[News] US House Rams Through Nicaragua Regime-Change Bill With Zero Opposition

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Fri Mar 13 14:12:08 EDT 2020


https://orinocotribune.com/us-house-rams-through-nicaragua-regime-change-bill-with-zero-opposition/ 



  US House Rams Through Nicaragua Regime-Change Bill With Zero Opposition

Ben Norton March 13, 2020
------------------------------------------------------------------------

*Not one member of the House of Representatives spoke up against a 
bipartisan bill sponsored by hardliners that ramps up US economic 
warfare and regime-change measures against Nicaragua’s elected government.*

By Ben Norton

As the Donald Trump administration’s year-long coup attempt against 
Venezuela spirals out in failure, the US government has taken aim at 
Nicaragua with increasing ferocity, in a bid to topple its 
democratically elected, leftist Sandinista government.

Washington’s pressure escalated further on March 9 when the US House of 
Representatives passed a bipartisan resolution in a voice vote without 
any opposition that demanded more sanctions and aggressive actions 
against the Nicaraguan government of President Daniel Ortega.

This bill — which received no coverage in the English-language corporate 
media — refers to Nicaragua’s elected government as the “Ortega regime,” 
echoing the bellicose rhetoric of the right-wing opposition.

Video of the congressional session, which is embedded at the end of this 
article, shows that the resolution was pushed through on a voice vote in 
just around eight minutes. There was no debate of the resolution, and a 
grand total of zero members of Congress spoke in opposition to it.

The regime-change action in the House followed numerous rounds of 
suffocating US sanctions on Nicaragua, a small Central American country 
of just around 6 million people.

In fact, the behavior of US legislators in the latest vote mirrored one 
in December 2018, when not one member of Congress spoke up against the 
passage of the Nicaraguan Investment and Conditionality Act (NICA). That 
bill hit Nicaragua with crippling economic restrictions, preventing 
international financial institutions from providing loans or assistance 
to the country’s government.

US sanctions have already caused the deaths of tens of thousands of 
civilians in Venezuela and Iran. Now that Nicaragua is in the 
crosshairs, the damage of Washington’s economic warfare has only just begun.

*Calling for US and international economic war on Nicaragua*
The latest regime-change bill passed against Nicaragua, H.Res.754, was 
introduced in December 2019 by Representative Albio Sires, a 
Cuban-American Democrat from New Jersey.

His resolution was co-sponsored by 28 members of Congress, 19 Democrats 
and nine Republicans. These included Florida Democratic Representatives 
Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Donna Shalala and California Democrats Jim 
Costa and Tony Cardenas.

The bill “urges the United States Government to continue to apply 
pressure on the Ortega government and consider additional sanctions 
against those Nicaraguan officials” accused by Washington of human 
rights abuses or corruption.

The resolution goes on to “urge the international community to hold the 
Ortega government accountable” and “restrict its access to foreign 
financing.”

Included in the bill is language demanding the Nicaraguan government 
“immediately release all political prisoners without conditions.”

However, the Sandinista government has already released hundreds of 
people on its so-called “political prisoner” list, acceding to pressure 
from the Nicaraguan opposition and its sponsors in the US and OAS. As 
The Grayzone reported, this list contained the names of numerous violent 
criminals who had previously carried out murders and rapes, and resulted 
in the release of an opposition hooligan who went on to stab his own 
pregnant girlfriend to death.

The US congressional resolution also expressed support for right-wing 
Nicaraguan opposition organizations, media outlets, and civil society 
groups, many of which are funded by the US government.

The House’s unanimous approval of this regime-change legislation arrived 
just four days after the Trump administration imposed another round of 
sanctions targeting Nicaraguan state institutions.

On March 5, the US embassy ramped up the pressure with a security alert 
in Nicaragua, imposing travel restrictions on embassy personnel and 
advising them to stay away from demonstrations and “large groups or 
barricades.”

The alert was both a tacit admission that the barricades the opposition 
had erected around the country posed a threat to the safety of all 
people, including US citizens, as well as a portent of the chaos and 
violence that Washington apparently aimed to resuscitate in its bid to 
topple Nicaragua’s government.

    Today’s sanctions on the Nicaraguan National Police and three
    commissioners take aim at one of the main tools the Ortega regime
    uses to violently repress the people of #Nicaragua
    <https://twitter.com/hashtag/Nicaragua?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw>.
    We will continue to promote accountability of the regime for
    #HumanRights
    <https://twitter.com/hashtag/HumanRights?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw>
    abuses.

    — Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) March 5, 2020
    <https://twitter.com/SecPompeo/status/1235680605385486345?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw>


      Regime-change bill sponsored by neoconservative Cuban-American
      Republican-turned-Democrat

The main sponsor of the new sanctions bill against Nicaragua, Albio 
Sires, is a former Republican who previously ran for Congress as a 
member of the GOP. He changed his party affiliation and went on to fill 
the former seat of Democratic Cuban-American hardliner Bob Menendez when 
he entered the Senate.

Like many elite Cuban-Americans, Sires’ family fled to the US after the 
Cuban revolution, which removed Cuba’s right-wing, US-backed dictator 
Fulgencio Batista from power.

In Congress, Sires has been a stalwart opponent of Latin America’s 
leftist governments, teaming up with Republican hawks from Marco Rubio 
<https://www.rubio.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/2019/10/rubio-sires-colleagues-urge-e-u-high-representative-for-continued-support-in-addressing-venezuela-s-migrant-crisis-ahead-of-conference> to 
Ted Cruz to Ileana Ros-Lehtinen 
<https://sires.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/bi-partisan-group-of-lawmakers-commend-final-passage-of-nica-act-sending> to 
destabilize them.

Sires has relentlessly clamored for regime change in Cuba 
<https://sires.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/congressman-albio-sires-statement-about-cuba-referendum>. 
He staunchly opposed the Barack Obama administration’s partial 
normalization of relations with Cuba 
<https://sires.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/congressman-sires-statement-on-the-change-of-cuba-policy>, 
describing his “plans for a loosening of sanctions” as “naïve and 
disrespectful to the millions of Cubans that have lived under the 
Castro’s repressive regime.”

Early on in the Trump administration’s coup attempt against the leftist 
Chavista government in Caracas, Sires recognized 
<https://sires.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/congressman-albio-sires-recognizes-juan-guaid-as-interim-president-of> unelected 
coup leader Juan Guaidó 
<https://thegrayzone.com/2019/01/29/the-making-of-juan-guaido-how-the-us-regime-change-laboratory-created-venezuelas-coup-leader/> as 
“the constitutionally legitimate Interim President of Venezuela.” Soon 
after, Sires met with Guaidó’s wife 
<https://sires.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/congressman-albio-sires-statement-about-meeting-with-venezuelan-first>, 
describing her as “Venezuelan First Lady Fabiana Rosales.” Meanwhile, he 
proclaims on official social media accounts, “Maduro and his thugs must 
go <https://www.facebook.com/RepAlbioSires/posts/10156723503508751>.”

Since the failure of a violent US-backed coup attempt in Nicaragua 
<https://thegrayzone.com/2018/08/15/a-response-to-misinformation-on-nicaragua-it-was-a-coup-not-a-massacre/> in 
2018, Sires has been one of the main figures in Congress pushing for 
aggressive measures to topple the Sandinista government. He was a 
co-sponsor of the Nica Act, and took the lead in the latest 
regime-change resolution.

    H.Res.754 condemns Daniel Ortega’s system of repression and
    expresses solidarity with those who have been persecuted by his regime.

    — Albio Sires (@RepSires) March 10, 2020
    <https://twitter.com/RepSires/status/1237368060299882496?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw>


      Zero opposition to the Nicaragua regime-change resolution

After Albio Sires introduced the bill, it was referred to the House 
Committee on Foreign Affairs, where it was very slightly amended and 
then discussed on the House floor on March 9.

On the floor, Sires moved to suspend the rules 
<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suspension_of_the_rules_in_the_United_States_Congress>. 
The speaker pro tempore, filling in for incumbent House Speaker Nancy 
Pelosi, agreed to suspend the rules, opening up a period of 40 minutes 
of debate.

But no debate ensued. The only other member of Congress who spoke during 
the allotted period was right-wing Florida Republican Ted Yoho, who 
expressed his staunch support for the resolution.

After tirades against the Nicaraguan “regime” by Sires and Yoho, the 
House speaker pro tempore quickly moved on to a voice vote. A small 
handful of Congressmembers declared “Aye” in support. Not one 
representative said no. It was all over in eight minutes.

In a triumphant statement from his office, Sires declared that the 
resolution “sent a strong, bipartisan message 
<https://sires.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/congressman-sires-bipartisan-nicaragua-resolution-passes-the-house-of>.”

Once again, potentially lethal sanctions on an impoverished nation 
fighting to develop itself and provide for its people were passed in 
broad daylight, on a Monday afternoon, and not one member of Congress 
spoke up against it.

/You can watch video of the Congressional proceedings here:/

Source URL: The Grayzone 
<https://thegrayzone.com/2020/03/12/us-house-sanctions-nicaragua/>



Ben Norton is a journalist and writer. He is a reporter for The 
Grayzone, and the producer of the Moderate Rebels podcast, which he 
co-hosts with Max Blumenthal. His website is BenNorton.com, and he 
tweets at @BenjaminNorton.

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