The following story was published in La Prensa on September 26, 2018. The original publication can be found here.
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.
Roberto Bendaña, U.S. citizen and civil society advocate, responds to the current situation in Nicaragua and discusses The NICA Act.
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One of the oldest newspaper in Nicaragua, La Prensa, highlighted the efforts by The Global Rule of Law & Liberty Legal Defense Fund in an editorial on entrepreneur and civil society advocate Roberto Bendaña McEwan.
The article discusses the human rights violations, institutional backsliding in Nicaragua, and the unlawful use of the judicial system and international bodies such as INTERPOL to repress critics of the dictatorial regime.
On March 9, Florida Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen released the following statement on the 10 year anniversary of Robert Levinson’s disappearance in Iran. Rep. Ros-Lehtinen’s statement points out Iran’s “disturbing pattern” of taking American and dual citizens hostage, including Internet freedom advocate Nizar Zakka.
The press release, found below, can also be found here.
Roberto Bendaña McEwan, a U.S. citizen, is a successful businessman who was born and raised in Nicaragua. He has led and been involved in numerous civil society groups promoting active participation in national politics.
In September 2013, Bendaña was wrongfully charged by the Nicaraguan government and denied a fair trial. Nicaragua later requested an INTERPOL Red Notice for his arrest.
This is his story.
On September 21, the House of Representatives approved passage H.R. 5708, the Nicaraguan Investment Conditionality Act (NICA) of 2017 that, if it becomes law, will prohibit loans to the government of Nicaragua by international financial institutions unless Nicaragua takes steps to ensure free, fair, and transparent elections as well as the rule of law.
In an interview with Nicaragua’s leading newspaper, La Prensa, PobleteTamargo attorney Jason Poblete said that the NICA law could also lead to economic sanctions being imposed on Nicaraguan officials who violate human rights or ignore the rule of law.
The Congress is requesting that executive branch agencies “investigate what is happening in Nicaragua [and] if there are violations of human rights, exclude all those involved in corruption (in Nicaragua) of privileges granted by the United States,” such as visas or, eventually, access to the U.S. financial system Poblete said.
A companion measure was introduced in the Senate earlier this month, S.3284.
The entire article is available at the La Prensa website.
On Thursday, September 22, Congressman Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.), a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, offered an amendment during the Floor debate of on H.R. 5931 – Prohibiting Future Ransom Payments to Iran Act. The measure, which passed in the House, included an amendment by Rep. Pompeo that prohibit ransom payments to any nation and sanctions Iranians responsible for holding U.S. nationals, including citizens as well as U.S. Legal Permanent Residents.