No to US sanctions against Nicaragua
News from Nicaragua | Monday, 17 December 2018 |
US threats and sanctions will not only deepen the poverty of those already impoverished but will also exacerbate the polarisation within Nicaragua, making it even more difficult to reach a political settlement to the crisis.
The Nicaragua Investment Conditionality Act (NICA Act) was first introduced into Congress in 2015 but never signed off. In September 2018 it resurfaced in more draconian form as the Nicaragua Human Rights and Anti-Corruption Act of 2018 (S. 3233). Having now been approved by the US Congress, it is awaiting Donald Trump’s signature prior to coming into force.
This approval comes in the wake of a speech by Trump administration national security advisor John Bolton on 1 November when he denounced Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua as ‘the troika of tyranny’ responsible for ‘fostering communism in the region‘ and threatened that the Trump administration would take direct action against all three countries.
The Act had bipartisan support, but the campaign behind it was largely led by neo-conservative Florida Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, with help from Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz. These right wing Latin America exile politicians have dedicated their political lives to eradicating any vestige of socialism in the Americas.
The Act will direct US representatives to use their influence to block loans to Nicaragua through the World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Running at US$200 million annually, these loans are being invested by the Nicaraguan government in education, social programmes, electrification, roads and other infrastructure initiatives, particularly in the most impoverished areas of the Caribbean Coast.
In addition to influencing multilateral loans to Nicaragua the Act includes provisions for the following:
Sanctions against individuals under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act – which allows the US to seize assets of individuals from other countries it deems responsible for human rights abuse or political corruption, and also employ other sanctions;
Restrictions on visas for travel to the US to individuals in the Nicaraguan government and their associates;
Annual reporting on the state of Nicaraguan democracy;
Directs agencies to create a “civil society” engagement strategy – which in the current context largely means expanding support for groups in opposition to the government;
The provisions would be valid until 2023, although these could be waived if Nicaragua adopts reforms that satisfy US policy-makers.
Forcing regime change through strangling the economy was a key strategy of the Reagan administration during the 1980s contra war; thirty-three years on the Trump administration is pursuing the same strategy.
On 1 May, 1985 Ronald Regan stated: ‘I, Ronald Reagan, President of the United States of America, find that the policies and actions of the Government of Nicaragua constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States and hereby declare a national emergency to deal with that threat.’
On 27 November, 2018 Donald Trump stated: ‘I, Donald Trump, find that the situation in Nicaragua...........constitutes an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States, and I hereby declare a national emergency to deal with that threat.’
The NICA Act has little to do with US concern for human rights, democracy and the rule of law in Nicaragua and everything to do with escalating the Trump administration regime change agenda and the desire of the US to assert its dominance over the whole Central America region.