On July 25, the United States House of Representatives voted and unanimously approved bipartisan resolution H.Res.981, condemning the violence and repression committed by the Nicaraguan Government of Daniel Ortega, which in the last three months has resulted in the deaths of 295 people, according to the latest update from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). The resolution was introduced by Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL-27) and co-sponsored by Rep. Ed Royce,(R-CA-39), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Rep. Albio Sires (D-NJ-8), Ranking Member of the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee, among others.
In a press release published after the passing of the resolution, Rep. Ros-Lehtinen condemned, on behalf of the co-sponsors of the resolution, the violence, persecution, intimidation and murders by the Government of Nicaragua against its citizens and pointed out that the number of deaths continues to rise each day under a “shoot to kill” policy. She also stressed that adding to the number of deaths are countless wounded, arbitrary arrests and enforced disappearances – tactics which, according to the Representative, are repressive acts indicative of a regime which will do whatever is necessary to remain in power. Rep. Ros-Lehtinen alluded to the importance of putting pressure on Daniel Ortega and his government, urging the US Government to do more, given that time is of the essence. “My resolution urges the Administration to do more, to target more Ortega goons for sanctions, and I urge this body to do more – time is of the essence.”
The resolution, among other actions, “rightfully identifies Ortega as the orchestrator of the violence and urges the Administration to take more action against the regime.” In addition, it “demonstrates our unwavering support to the people of Nicaragua in the pursuit of democracy, including calling for early, free and fair elections overseen by credible domestic and international observers.” It also urges the international community “to stand in solidarity with the people of Nicaragua.”
The message sent by the US Congress to the government of Nicaragua is also a plea of many other countries, civil society organizations, and society as a whole to put an end to the violence. It is alarming that, despite the cries for peace, the repression continues as demonstrated by gross violations of the right to due process – a situation currently affecting rural leaders Medardo Mairena and Pedro Mena, who were arraigned on charges of terrorism, organized crime, murder, kidnapping, aggravated theft, obstruction of public services, and damages against 23 alleged victims – including the Nicaraguan State – without the presence of an attorney of their choice, or of their families. In recent days, the local media has stated that the two leaders were being tortured by the National Police. The Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights (Race and Equality) strongly denounces the situation, and request intervention from the international community to protect the rights of these rural leaders, who are facing a flawed judicial system, organized by Daniel Ortega.
The resolution asks the US administration to continue condemning the atrocities in Nicaragua, to demand the release of unjustly detained citizens, and to identify individuals who are participating in the violence so that they may be sanctioned under the Global Magnitsky Act, which levies sanctions against suspected human rights violators and freezes their US assets. The resolution sees early, free and fair elections as the solution to the human rights crisis, which has engulfed Nicaragua since April of the current year.
Race and Equality considers that initiatives such as the resolution by the US House of Representatives, and others adopted by the international community, are expressions of solidarity towards the Nicaraguan people and, as such, will contribute to the resolution of the conflict without further bloodshed in a country that is ready to reclaim its liberty.