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U.S. Senate Passes Bill to Promote Free Elections in Nicaragua

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The Senate approved the “RENACER” bill, supported by Democrats and Republicans, to promote “free and fair” elections in Nicaragua, in the face of the measures adopted by dictator Daniel Ortega.

This was reported on Friday by one of the promoters of this proposal, the Democratic senator and chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee of the Upper House, Bob Menendez, on his Twitter account.

In a statement, the legislative committee explained that the bill serves to dramatically increase U.S. diplomatic engagement in the face of Ortega’s “repressive tactics” to intimidate and arrest opposition candidates for the November 7 elections.

The so-called bill for Reinforcing Nicaragua’s Adherence to Conditions for Electoral Reform (RENACER) expands oversight of international financial institutions’ lending to Nicaragua.

It also calls for the imposition of targeted sanctions on Nicaraguan officials and for these to be coordinated with the Government of Canada and the European Union, as well as calling for a review of Nicaragua’s continued participation in the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA).

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The initiative also serves to add Nicaragua to the list of Central American countries subject to corruption-related U.S. visa restrictions and demands access to classified reports on alleged corrupt activities perpetrated by the Ortega administration and his family.

Other points of the proposal are focused on the ties between Russia and Nicaragua, requesting documents on Russian military sales to Nicaragua and a review of possible actions that could be sanctionable.

RENACER was introduced last March by Bob Menendez of the Democratic Party and Republican Senator Marco Rubio.

In the current electoral process, Nicaraguan authorities have arrested more than thirty opposition leaders, including seven presidential candidates.

The Supreme Electoral Council, controlled by Ortega’s supporters, has also cancelled the legal personality of two political parties, and the Parliament, where the ruling party has an absolute majority, reformed the Electoral Law, which established greater control in the structure of the elections in favor of the Sandinistas.

Ortega, a septuagenarian ex-guerrilla, is seeking his fifth five-year term, fourth consecutive and second with his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, in the November 7 general elections.