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Foreign Assistance to Nicaragua Needs to Be Reviewed and Likely Curtailed

It appears as if elements of the leftist Sandinista Party of Nicaragua are back to their old, Cold War ways. Sandinista supporters donning masks and wielding weapons attacked the opposition leader yesterday while he was on his way to greet opposition supporters.  

The violence stems from alleged wide-spread electoral fraud during last week’s election that gave the leftists key victories in municipal elections including races for key posts such as the Managua mayorship.  Since the more conservative Constitutional Liberal Party have called for rule of law and transparency in the electoral processes, and refuses to give any ground to the Sandinistas, the Sandinista leaders have called on supporters to take to the streets and, if necessary, intimidate opposition supporters until they give up. 

Daniel Ortega’s Nicaragua has been lurching left ever since Ortega was elected President with about 38% of the vote in 2006.  For Ortega, the Sandinistas return to power has always been about continuing the Sandinista Revolution he was forced to give up during the Cold War.  

With regards to the Western Hemisphere, Ortega works against the United States at every turn.  He has allied Nicaragua with Communist Cuba, Socialist Venezuela, and their supporters throughout the Americas and the world.  Ortega rolled out the red carpet for Iran, a state sponsor of terrorism.  He supports regional terrorist groups such as Colombia’s FARC.  Earlier this year he severed diplomatic relations with Colombia because he was upset that Colombia won a decisive victory against FARC terrorists.  He has also sided with Russia and China on various key issues.  

In Nicaragua, the Ortega wing of the Sandinista Party is eroding Nicaraguan democracy, rule of law, and free market enterprise.  The recent electoral violence is par for the course: what you cannot take by law, you take by force.  It has become harder to conduct business in Nicaragua ever since the Sandinista barely won in 2006.  Private property is start to come under attack, again.  

Individuals and groups whose human rights were violated by the Sandinistas during the Cold War have been blocked from Nicaraguan courts.  Just ask the Miskito Indians who, to this day, still seek justice for crimes committed against them. What crimes?  Supporting the opposition against the Sandinistas during the Cold War. 

These and many other examples of Sandinista leadership make a clear case for starting to curtail U.S. assistance to Nicaragua.  U.S. taxpayers are generous, but not dumb.  If you want to take money from the U.S., you will need to be held accountable for your actions.

U.S. law states that “[t]he successful transition of a developing country is dependent upon the quality of its economic and governance institutions. Rule of law, mechanisms of accountability and transparency, security of person, property, and investments, are but a few of the critical governance and economic reforms that underpin the sustainability of broad-based economic growth.” 22 USC 2151-1(b)(17)  

If you dug deeper and reviewed all of our foreign assistance laws, you would find U.S. taxpayer investments in the form of foreign assistance giving to Nicaragua have been inconsitent with our laws.  Last week, I wrote a summary of the Millennium Challenge Account and how Nicaragua had violated the terms of the agreement that conditioned the assistance.  It is just one example of many.  

Given recent events in Nicaragua, the Congress and the Administration should order a complete review of U.S. foreign assistance to Nicaragua.  As practicable, such a review should also take into account monies contributed by our allies in the region as well as in Europe.  Monies and loans by international institutions should also come under scrutiny.  Once a review is completed, a calibrated response can be crafted. 

The Ortega wing of the Sandinista Party needs to account for its misdeeds.   Through its actions it has demonstrated that it is not ready for duties of operating in a democratic and free state.  U.S. taxpayers should not be forced to underwrite what appears to be a devolution of Nicaraguan democracy, rule of law, and free enterprise.

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