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EXCLUSIVE - Sen. Marco Rubio: It's time to take action against Ortega regime with new U.S. law

Signed into law last week, the RENACER Act empowers the U.S. to take action against Ortega regime officials. Now that President Biden has the tools, it is time for action.

Sen. Marco Rubio on Nicaragua's illegitimate elections
Sen. Marco Rubio on Nicaragua's illegitimate elections | Ilustración: Armando Tejuca

November 15, 2021 12:17pm

Updated: November 15, 2021 12:17pm

After the illegitimate elections this past weekend in Nicaragua, there can be no doubt that Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo’s authoritarian dynasty seeks to fraudulently retain power while undermining the Nicaraguan people’s freedom of expression.

Let’s be clear: it was no secret that November 7th’s sham elections would proclaim the members of the Sandinista National Liberation Front as the 'winners.' For months, the Ortega and Murillo regime sought to silence the voices of various opposition candidates by unjustly detaining them. Leaders such as Félix Maradiaga, Juan Sebastián Chamorro, Arturo Cruz, and Cristina Chamorro are just a few of the long list of political prisoners who to this day remain arbitrarily detained by orders of the regime. 

After such a difficult weekend for the Nicaraguan people, I once again join the Nicaraguan-American community in repudiating the Ortega and Murillo regime while redoubling our efforts for free and fair elections. A critically important step was taken this week when President Biden signed my bipartisan Reinforcing Nicaragua’s Adherence to Conditions for Electoral Reform (RENACER) Act into law. This legislation requires the U.S. President to prioritize the implementation of the sanctions established under Article 5 of the Nicaraguan Investment Conditionality Act of 2018 (NICA Act).

The RENACER Act seeks to impose a cost on the individuals who directly or indirectly obstructed the conditions necessary for free, fair and transparent elections to be held in Nicaraguaincluding the regime officials who were complicit in this scheme. 

The RENACER Act also requires a report detailing acts of corruption by members of the Nicaraguan armed forces, as well as a compilation of all human rights abuses, torture, and sexual violence directed against Nicaraguans and indigenous communities. Likewise, the bill would implement efforts to strengthen Nicaragua’s free press and freedom of expression in the nation at a time when the regime openly represses and censors voices of dissent. Since Nicaragua no longer has a democratic government, the RENACER Act urges the president of the United States to review the Central American nation’s participation in the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States (CAFTA-DR) free trade agreement.

The authoritarian dynasty of Ortega and Murilloas well as their thugsmust know that their role in directing the sham elections in Nicaragua will come at a high price. The response must come from not just the U.S. government, but also from our allies and partners in the European Union and in the Western Hemisphere. Other foreign nations’ indifference to the harsh reality faced by the Nicaraguan people makes them complicit with the actions of a bloodthirsty regime whose sole objective is to repress its people at any cost.  

We cannot lose sight of those who benefit the most from the fact that Ortega and Murillo remain in power illegitimately. The tyrants of Havana and Caracas and the dictators of China and Russia are all celebrating the 'victory' of an authoritarian and anti-American dynasty. The United States must be aware that any concessions made to Cuba and Venezuela will further empower the regime in Nicaragua. President Biden now has new tools to push back on the regime. It is time for action!