Washington, D.C. – Today, Friday, April 16th, 2021, U.S. Representative Mark Green (R-TN), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, Civilian Security, Migration, and International Economic Policy, Rep. Albio Sires (D-NJ), Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, Civilian Security, Migration, and International Economic Policy, and Reps. Juan Vargas (D-CA), Maria E. Salazar (R-FL), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), and Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) released the following statement before the third anniversary of protests in Nicaragua against the Ortega regime:
“April 18th will mark the three-year anniversary of the start of massive protests against the Ortega regime in Nicaragua. In 2018, peaceful protesters were met with unspeakable acts of state-sanctioned violence carried out by Ortega’s security forces.
Unfortunately, the depravity and impunity exhibited by the Ortega regime have since proved to be part of a larger trend. We stand in solidarity with the people of Nicaragua and our hearts go out to the many thousands who have suffered crimes against humanity at the hands of this brutal dictatorship.
As elections approach in November, Ortega has deepened the state’s repression of citizens’ basic rights and freedoms. Instead of fulfilling a commitment to implement democratic reforms, Ortega has pushed through new laws that expand his control. The most egregious of these, which was passed in late 2020, empowers him to arbitrarily ban opposition candidates from running in the upcoming elections.
The “reforms” proposed by his rubber-stamp legislature earlier this week show contempt for the modest requests made by the international community. They are yet another smokescreen that will do little to mask Ortega’s plans for November. The international community must be unified in asserting that the disqualification of any opposition candidate by Ortega and his accomplices, restrictions on the participation of any opposition parties, or the failure to grant full access to international observers for the entirety of the electoral process would be crossing a red line.
The Nicaraguan people have endured preventable suffering over these three years at the hands of a regime that refused to impose public health measures to slow the spread of the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic and did little to support communities on the Caribbean coast that were devasted by two hurricanes. We are under no illusions that Daniel Ortega will change his ways.
The United States must therefore do all it can to ensure free and fair, multi-party, internationally observed elections in Nicaragua. As members of the United States Congress, we will work to ensure every tool of the United States Government is used to advance that effort.”