According to a story in McClatchy News, Trump administration officials recently met with Venezuelan opposition members “to urge the White House to sanction Nicaragua and a company whose joint venture they say is helping to prop up the government in Caracas, according to multiple sources familiar with the conversations.” Read more here.
If Venezuelan opposition leaders are pressing Trump administration officials to sanction Nicaragua, it marks the first time that Daniel Ortega has come under recent public scrutiny for meddling in politics outside of Nicaragua. Recent reports in Nicaraguan newspapers quote opposition leaders and local experts alleging that Nicaragua has been hiding money for the state-owned Venezuelan energy company PDVSA.
The issues in Nicaragua appear to stem from transactions involving Nicaraguan company partially owned by the Venezuelan government called ALBANISA S.A. According to one expert, close to $4.0 billion may have been held or laundered through that Venezuelan-owned company. Was the company set up, or used, to evade U.S. economic sanctions? Is there a Cuba or Russia connection?
The U.S. government has many tools at its disposal to address public corruption in countries such as Nicaragua, including economic sanctions, the Global Magnitsky Act, and other laws. The Congress is also considering the Nicaraguan Investment Conditionality Act (NICA) of 2017. Among other things, the NICA directs the President to instruct the U.S. Executive Director at international financial institution (IFIs) to use U.S. influence to oppose any loan for the government of Nicaragua’s benefit if various conditions are not met to help advance rule of law and curb human rights abuses, among other conditions.
To learn more about the Fund’s work in Nicaragua, follow this link to read about a political persecution case by the Sandinistas of an American businessman, Mr. Roberto Bendaña McEwan. Roberto was falsely accused by Nicaragua’s Sandinista government of various crimes because he dared to call for free and transparent elections in Nicaragua including a clean up of the voter rolls in that country.
On or about January 2, 2014, Nicaragua abused the INTERPOL processes by requesting a Red Notice based on false charges. An INTERPOL Red Notice is a device that alerts law enforcement agencies around the world of an outstanding arrest warrant. You can read more about Roberto case by following this link.