House OK’s bill to impose sanctions against Nicaraguan officials who violate human rights

WASHINGTON – The House has sent President Donald Trump a bill that would approve new sanctions against the government of Nicaragua in response to a reported crackdown on demonstrators during an uprising in the Central American country this past spring.

The legislation, approved by the House late Tuesday after Senate approval in late November, would impose stiff sanctions on the assets of any Nicaraguan official involved in state-sponsored repression or human rights violations. It also directs the Treasury Department to prevent future international lending to Nicaragua by the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the Inter-American Development Bank.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said he expects Trump to sign the bill into law. The White House had no immediate comment Wednesday on whether Trump would sign the bill.

“We are one step closer to expanding sanctions and other pressures against the oppressive Ortega regime and sending a clear message that the United States will not tolerate the ongoing human rights violations,” Rubio said in a statement.

In April, protests broke out in Nicaragua in opposition to proposed cuts to social security spending. Even though the cuts were canceled, the protests increased, including violent clashes between state security forces and demonstrators.

Over 300 people have died in the protests and several thousand have been injured. Human rights organizations have accused the Nicaraguan government of torturing and executing protestors, claims the government denies.

Fulton Armstrong, a fellow at American University and former National Intelligence Officer for Latin America, said the sanctions would do little to improve the crisis in Nicaragua and compared them to the U.S. embargo against Cuba.

“We often do these things without understanding the impact on the societies that are affected by our sanctions,” Armstrong said. “… Executive grand sanctions, Senate legislation, make us feel good morally. … No one has made the case that suspending all this stuff and isolating a government that has turned inward works.”

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