In recent months, the brutal and longtime Nicaraguan dictator-president Daniel Ortega and his wife and vice-president Rosario Murillo have plunged the Central American nation into an unprecedented political and human rights crisis, just hours away. south of the US border. So far, the response from the Biden administration has been weak.
Elected with only 38% of the vote in 2006, Ortega and his wife systematically deconstructed democracy in Nicaragua with the financial help of Venezuelan strongmen Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro. They took control of all branches of government, established a police state, conducted bogus re-elections and ultimately amended the Constitution of Nicaragua to allow Ortega to remain in power for life.
Simply put, in their quest for absolute and endless power, the “Or-Mu” regime is waging war on the Nicaraguan people.
In the run-up to another mock re-election in November, the regime has arrested 36 opposition and civil society leaders on trumped-up charges since May of this year.
Those imprisoned include five of the seven main opposition presidential candidates (the other two are under house arrest), as well as other detained students, journalists, business leaders, religious leaders and activists.
In a recent discussion at a Heritage Foundation public event, the wives of two of the jailed candidates said their husbands had been subjected to psychological and physical torture as a result of deprivation and inhuman treatment. (The Daily Signal is The Heritage Foundation’s news and commentary platform.)
Since 2018, the regime has illegally detained more than 150 political prisoners.
Appallingly, among the political prisoners was US citizen and Navy veteran Eddy Montes, who was murdered in a Managua prison in 2019.
And what was the response of the Biden administration? He reprimanded the regime through certain press releases and tweets.
In a more proactive move, the Treasury and state departments have taken steps to add individual names to the sanctions list maintained by the Office of Foreign Assets Control and to block the visas of more than 100 regime officials. and members of their families following the arrests of opposition candidates. in June.
The Biden administration has sent mixed messages, however, as can be seen in an optimistic Commerce Department announcement to promote an event in January 2022 on U.S. trade and investment opportunities in Nicaragua.
More importantly, as the Wall Street Journal noted, the Biden administration quietly allowed what will amount to a multi-million dollar cash bonus for the criminal regime in Managua.
Following a change in US global policy that could not have come at a more opportune time, the Or-Mu regime will soon have access to hundreds of millions of dollars in Special Drawing Rights from the International Monetary Fund in part of a large US program to support the expansion of unconditional (and non-repayable) loans to fund members.
Special Drawing Rights are reserve assets allocated by the International Monetary Fund to its member countries, on the basis of quotas, and can be converted into hard currencies. As The Heritage Foundation has reported, the overwhelming majority of these Special Drawing Rights will be converted to dollars and ultimately impose a cost on U.S. taxpayers.
In August, the International Monetary Fund approved the allocation of $ 456 billion in Special Drawing Rights to be distributed among its 190 member countries, which is equivalent to about $ 650 billion at the current exchange rate of the International Monetary Fund.
When asked about this issue, the Biden administration said it was opposed to further loans to the Or-Mu regime. However, the new allocation of Special Drawing Rights to members of the International Monetary Fund, including Nicaragua, was only achieved with the support of US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. This move overturned the last administration’s opposition to a huge expansion of Special Drawing Rights since, as is now evident, they would be made available to malicious foreign adversaries like China and Iran (and Nicaragua).
Nicaragua’s award is $ 249 million in Special Drawing Rights, which the Wall Street Journal says equates to $ 354 million. The International Monetary Fund does not recognize Maduro’s socialist regime and, therefore, Venezuela is barred from receiving the new Special Drawing Rights. Nicaragua is still recognized as a member of the International Monetary Fund, so the Ortega-Murillo regime retains full access to new funds.
Overall, in the years since Ortega’s return to power in 2007, Nicaragua has experienced a steady decline in economic freedom, according to the Heritage Foundation’s Economic Freedom Index. In particular, the Nicaraguan economy has contracted every year since 2017.
In addition, the undeserved funding from the International Monetary Fund will be given despite reports that the Or-Mu regime has distorted the COVID-19 infection figures recorded in Nicaragua and has harassed Nicaraguan doctors with accusations of “terrorism. health ”for warning that the actual figures are much worse than those reported in official statistics.
Ahead of the Nicaraguan Independence Day celebration on September 15, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken issued a statement condemning the crackdown on political freedom and civil society in Nicaragua and reaffirming that “the United States is in solidarity with all those who speak the truth in power, defend human rights and strengthen democratic institutions.
But if the Biden administration is serious about its words, its policies should focus on formulating tough measures that will cost the Ortega-Murillo regime dearly.
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