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Nicaragua - US Relations

Cuba must be regarded as something of a spent force when it comes to revolutionary incitement, and Venezuela was increasingly too bedeviled by internal instablity to offer the sort of inspiration provided in the early years of Chavez. But in recent years the Sandinistas have regrouped, and are poised to annoy neighoring states in Central America. The vision of Nicaraguan tanks wading the Rio Grande River in division strength bewitched the Reagan Adminstration. But today, even modest michief-making in frail neighoring states could become a significant distraction for American decision-makers, taking attention away from Mosow's mischief-making in the Easter Hemisphere. It is a mistake to think the U.S. elites and their proxy government have not been paying attention to events in Nicaragua since President Daniel Ortega took office in January 2007.

American domestic politics are already exacerbated by refugee and migrant questions, and it would not be difficult for Nicaraguan adventures in Central American to incite a flood of refugees such the tide of Syrian refugees that has bedeviled the European Union. Need it be said that Russia has a hand on the coflict in Syria that provokes this flood of refugees, and that Moscow has taken great delight in the resulting confusion of European politics.

When President Reagan took office in January 1981, he and his senior national security officials were already extremely concerned about what they saw as growing Soviet and Cuban influence in Latin America, especially in Central America and the Caribbean. They were particularly worried, in view of Fidel Castros strong support to the Sandinistas, that Nicaragua could become another Cuba. When William Casey became the director of central intelligence (DCI) a week after Reagans inauguration, he made it clear that he wanted a strong, new intelligence focus on Cuba and Central America. A national intelligence estimate (NIE) titled "Insurgency and Instability in Central America" was produced in September 1981. Its key judgments included the following assertion: "The principal objectives of Cuba and the USSR in Central America are to consolidate the Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua, and to use Nicaragua as a base for spreading leftist insurgency elsewhere in the region. Indeed, by virtue of its location, cooperation with Communist and other radical advisers, and support for Central American insurgencies, Nicaragua has become the hub of the revolutionary wheel in Central America." By 2016 the United States exported about $200 million in oil products to Nicaragua, five times the amount exported in 2014. The US Government clearly stated that the November 2011 elections marked a setback to democracy in Nicaragua and undermined the ability of Nicaraguans to hold their government accountable. The United States has promoted national reconciliation, encouraging Nicaraguans to resolve their problems through dialogue and compromise. It recognizes as legitimate all political forces that abide by the democratic process and eschew violence.

US assistance was focused on strengthening democratic institutions; stimulating sustainable economic growth; supporting the health and basic education sectors; and increasing the effectiveness of Nicaragua's efforts to combat transnational crimes, including narcotics trafficking, money laundering, illegal alien smuggling, international terrorist and criminal organizations, and trafficking in persons. Key U.S. policy goals for Nicaragua also included improving respect for human rights and resolving outstanding high-profile human rights cases; and developing a free market economy with respect for property and intellectual property rights.

Section 527 of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Years 1994 and 1995, prohibited U.S. assistance and support to any country in which U.S. citizens have not received adequate and effective compensation for outstanding claims against the government for confiscated property, as is the case in Nicaragua. The law provides authority to the President, which is delegated to the Secretary of State, to waive the prohibition when it is in the national interest. In 2011, the Secretary issued the 18th waiver of the Section 527 prohibition based upon Nicaragua's progress in resolving U.S. citizen claims.

In August 2015, the Government of Nicaragua resolved the last of the property claims disputes covered under Section 527 of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, ending a twenty-year period of waiver reviews and potential aid restrictions. Although the waiver cases have been resolved, the Embassy continues to hear accounts from U.S. citizens seeking redress for property rights violations that were not covered by this legislation and has raised concerns to the Nicaraguan government about the infringement of private property rights affecting U.S. citizens.

Since 1990, the United States has provided over $2 billion in assistance to Nicaragua. About $489 million of that was for debt relief, and another $488 million was for balance-of-payments support. The United States also provided $94 million in 1999, 2000, and 2001 as part of its overall response to Hurricane Mitch. In response to Hurricane Felix, the United States provided over $15 million in direct aid to Nicaragua to support humanitarian relief and recovery operations from the damage inflicted in September 2007. Aside from funding for Hurricanes Mitch and Felix, the levels of assistance have fallen incrementally to reflect the improvements in Nicaragua. Assistance has been focused on promoting more citizen political participation, compromise, and government transparency; stimulating sustainable growth and income; and fostering better-educated and healthier families.

The Millennium Challenge Corporation's (MCC) 5-year, $175 million compact with the Republic of Nicaragua entered into force in May 2006 and was completed in May 2011. The Millennium Challenge compact sought to reduce poverty and spur economic growth by funding projects in the regions of Leon and Chinandega aimed at reducing transportation costs and improving access to markets for rural communities; increasing wages and profits from farming and related enterprises in the region; and attracting investment by strengthening property rights. In June 2009, the MCC Board terminated portions of the compact when the Government of Nicaragua refused to address credible accusations of fraud related to the November 2008 municipal elections.

On 21 September 2016 the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill called the Nicaraguan Investment Conditionality Act. The legislation was sponsored by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the right wing U.S.-Cuban Republican party lawmaker, patron of terrorist Luis Posada Carriles and mass-murderer Orlando Bosch. Her proposed law threatened to apply a U.S. government veto to loans from international financial institutions unless Nicaragua complied with U.S. demands in relation to the rule of law and an independent judiciary and electoral council in Nicaragua; independent pro-democracy organizations in Nicaragua; free, fair, and transparent elections under international and domestic observers in Nicaragua in 2016 and 2017. The legislation mandates use of the U.S. veto in international financial institutions like the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank, potentially affecting over US$200 million in development loans for Nicaragua. Nicaraguas tiny right wing opposition actively requested right wing US legislators to approve the NICA law and much was made of this by inaccurate media in Latin America.

Since the lackluster performance of the Nicaraguan right wing in the 2011 national elections, the U.S. authorities had, at least for the moment, given up on their habitual cynical exploitation of the ambitions of Nicaraguas anti-patriotic right wing. With the NICA legislation they were turning to a policy of overt intervention via economic and other sanctions of the kind they tried unsuccessfully after the 2008 municipal elections when the Nicaraguan right wing, led by corruption tainted banker Eduardo Montealegre, convinced the U.S. and European Union authorities to cut around US$100 million in development cooperation funding to the Sandinista government based on false accusations of electoral fraud.

Nicaragua has been facing street protests and violence, with the Central American country's crisis starting April 2018, after protesters took to the streets to protest unpopular social security reforms. President Ortega ended up cancelling the reform plans, but protests have persisted and grown.

The United States accused the Ortega government of multiple human rights violations, as well as censorship of anti-government media. In December 2018, President Trump imposed crushing sanctions against Nicaragua, known as the NICA Act, which limited the country's ability to obtain financing from international organisations. Russia has accused the US and its allies of "stoking" social unrest in Nicaragua "with a single aim to change the government."

John Bolton coined the term "troika of tyranny" to refer to Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua. Bolton promised that unlike previous administrations, the Trump White House would "no longer appease dictators and despots near our shores in this hemisphere."

On 19 February 2019, In another tweet, Bolton attacked Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, "The Ortega regime has sentenced three farm leaders to 550 years in prison for their roles in protests in 2018, where Ortegas police forces reportedly killed 300 activists. As President Trump said Monday, Ortegas days are numbered and the Nicaraguan people will soon be free."

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