Florida Delegation Backs Sanctions on the Ortega Regime in Nicaragua

By: KEVIN DERBY Sunshine State News 

Last week, members of the Florida delegation on Capitol Hill called for tougher sanctions against the Ortega regime in Nicaragua and were happy when the White House complied.

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., brought out a resolution “condemning the intimidation, violence, persecution, and murders committed against the people of Nicaragua by the Ortega regime” which has the support of three other members of the Florida delegation.

Ros-Lehtinen, the first woman to ever lead the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee and currently the chairwoman of the U.S. House Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee, introduced the resolution on Tuesday with U.S. Rep. Albio Sires, D-NJ, as the main cosponsor.

There are seven other cosponsors including Florida Republican U.S. Reps. Carlos Curbelo and Mario Diaz-Balart and Florida U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, the top Democrat on the Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee.

On Thursday, Ros-Lehtinen and Sires weighed in on why they had introduced the resolution.

“As so many Nicaraguans exercise their rights to free speech and assembly, the violence in Nicaragua continues unabated with almost 300 people killed at the hands of the Ortega regime,” Ros-Lehtinen said. “This bipartisan resolution further demonstrates that the U.S. is paying close attention to the abuses of Ortega and his henchmen, and that we stand in solidarity with the Nicaraguan people in exercising their God-given rights, and calling for the reestablishment of democratic order. Though the State Department has rightfully imposed visa restrictions to some of Ortega’s puppets, this resolution empowers the administration to go further to identify and sanction those who have engaged in acts of oppression in accordance with our laws.”

“The Ortegas have consolidated power in the hands of their family and close confidants at the expense of Nicaraguan citizens,” Sires said This latest campaign of targeted attacks on peaceful protestors and media outlets is just a further progression of Ortega’s dissent into authoritarianism. The United States will not stand idly by while Ortega’s henchmen continue to kill unarmed protestors, restrict the free press, and line their pockets through corruption schemes. I support the Nicaraguan people who are working diligently to break free from Ortega’s autocratic grip. This resolution reaffirms that Congress hears the voices of the Nicaraguan people and stands with them in solidarity as they continue to fight for their human rights.”

The resolution was sent to the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

At the start of last month, Ros-Lehtinen wrote a letter to the Trump administration urging sanctions on members of the Ortega regime including  Francisco Lopez, head of ALBANISA, and Francisco Diaz, deputy commissioner of the National Police. Florida’s two U.S. senators–Democrat Bill Nelson and Republican Marco Rubio–signed the letter. So did Curbelo, Diaz-Balart, Sires, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Tex., and U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla.

On Thursday,  the Trump administration announced sanctioning three members of the Ortega regime including Lopez and Diaz.

Rubio weighed in on Thursday, praising the decision. He had introduced a Senate resolution at the end of last month urging the administration to sanction members of the Ortega regime.

“I commend the Trump administration for listening to our bipartisan calls to sanction individuals responsible for human rights abuses and corruption in Nicaragua,” Rubio said. “Amid the country’s growing crisis, time is running out for Daniel Ortega to hold early, free and fair elections.”