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Daniel Ortega, current president of Nicaragua. Photo: Wiki Commons
Daniel Ortega, current president of Nicaragua. Photo: Wiki Commons

U.S. Congress passes RENACER Act, leveling more pressure on Nicaragua's Ortega regime

The new law seeks to end intimidation by the Nicaraguan government and its malpractices ahead of the upcoming election.

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On Wednesday, Nov. 3, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez met with Republican Marco Rubio, House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee Chairman Albio Sires, Representative Maria Elvira Salazar and seven others to celebrate the passage of the Reinforcing Nicaragua’s Adherence to Conditions for Electoral Reform (RENACER) Act. 
 
The RENACER Act was designed to dramatically increase the U.S. response to the continued use of repressive tactics by Daniel Ortega and his government to intimidate, inhibit, or arrest all opposition challengers ahead of Nicaragua's scheduled elections this November 7th.
"It's not very often that Republicans and Democrats come together these days to find common ground and address a serious challenge; this bill is a rare exception. We are witnessing the worst authoritarian assault on democracy in Latin America in decades," Menendez said, referring to the coming together of Republicans and Democrats to pass the bill.
 
"Ahead of Sunday's sham presidential election in Nicaragua, the U.S. Congress is sending a strong message against the corrupt and authoritarian Ortega-Murillo regime and its attempt to subvert the will of the Nicaraguan people," said Senator Rubio. "The Biden Administration should quickly sign this bill and work with international allies to coordinate sanctions against this regime."  
 
The legislation proposes new initiatives to monitor, report on, and address corruption by the government and family of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, as well as human rights abuses perpetrated by Nicaraguan security forces. 
 
The RENACER Act also seeks increased sanctions by the U.S. government against key actors in the Ortega regime who are impeding democratic elections in Nicaragua and calls for opening a formal review to determine whether Nicaragua should be allowed to continue to participate in the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). 
What does the RENACER law seek to achieve?
The new law, which is awaiting approval by President Joe Biden, seeks to: 
 
- Align U.S. diplomacy and targeted sanctions to promote democratic elections in Nicaragua, including a review of Nicaraguan principals who have dismantled the prospects for free, fair and transparent elections.
 
- Call on the executive branch to review Nicaragua's continued participation in the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA).
 
- Expand oversight of international financial institutions lending to Nicaragua and reaffirm the existing legal exemption for humanitarian projects.
 
- Add Nicaragua to the list of Central American countries subject to corruption-related visa restrictions.
 
- Demand classified reporting on corruption perpetrated by the government and President Ortega's family, as well as on the activities of the Russian government in Nicaragua.
 
- Demand reporting on Russian military sales to Nicaragua and reviewing the possibility of sanctions under the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).
 
- Demand to report on human rights abuses committed by Nicaraguan security forces in rural and indigenous communities.
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