(Washington, DC) – U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa and Rep. Albio Sires (D-NJ), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, made the following statement after H.R. 5708 – the Nicaraguan Investment Conditionality Act (NICA) of 2016 – was approved by unanimous consent in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Statement by Ros-Lehtinen: “Daniel Ortega continues to consolidate power and trample on the rule of law and democratic foundations of Nicaragua which has led to economic and political instability in the country. This bill is aimed at holding Ortega and his regime accountable for violating human rights and manipulating the electoral process for his own political gain. In addition, the NICA Act directs the Department of State to issue a report on how Nicaraguan regime officials in the Supreme Electoral Council, the National Assembly, or the judicial systems are directly involved in acts of public corruption and human rights violations.  By passing this bill, the House has taken action to prevent Ortega from accessing international funds until reforms are implemented that promote democracy, strengthen the rule of law, respect human rights, and until Nicaragua holds free, fair and transparent elections overseen by electoral observers. We will continue to support the people of Nicaragua and assist civil society in democracy and governance programs but we must not allow Ortega to continue down this dangerous path without any serious repercussions.”

Statement by Sires: “I am proud to have worked with my good friend from Florida, Rep. Ros-Lehtinen to pass this urgent piece of legislation. The U.S. should stand strong in the face of Ortega’s continued efforts to stifle democratic processes and attempt to create an Ortega dynasty by naming his wife as his running mate. Ortega and his cronies mistakenly think that the U.S. will turn a blind eye to his autocratic actions and corrupt policies that have made him one of the richest men in the country while Nicaraguan people work hard to make ends meet.  I will continue to stand with the Nicaraguan people until their voices are heard. I thank my colleagues for their bipartisan and unanimous support of the NICA Act which urges the U.S. to curb Ortega’s access to international financing institutions until he tackles corruption and holds free, fair, and transparent elections.”