Washington, D.C.—Over the last two and a half years, a bipartisan consensus has emerged in both Houses of the U.S. Congress that the United States must press the Nicaraguan government to end political repression and human rights abuses; negotiate reforms that will make genuinely free and fair elections possible; and, working with allies in the hemisphere, use both diplomacy and targeted sanctions to support those goals.
That view was endorsed by the Congressional Progressive Caucus in September 2018, a group of the most liberal members of the House of Representatives.
It was embodied in a resolution introduced by both Republican and Democratic Senators in March 2020 and passed unanimously on June 16, 2020, and in a similar bipartisan resolution passed by the House on March 19, 2020.
A new statement released on December 3 by Democratic leaders who played crucial roles in opposing Contra aid in the 1980s takes the same position. The statement, signed by former Representative Mike Barnes, then chair of the House Western Hemisphere subcommittee, and former Representative David Bonior, then-House majority whip, said:
We are confident that the Biden administration will press for internationally monitored, free and fair elections in Nicaragua and respect for human rights.
The statement makes clear that a new administration will have strong backing to continue a policy that combines pressure and diplomacy, and presses for electoral reform and respect for human rights.
The full statement is below:
In the 1980s, Democratic members of the U.S. Congress supported a democratic path to peace in Nicaragua: a negotiated end to the conflict, free and fair elections, respect for human rights, freedom of the press, and non-military solutions. We led these efforts in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Today, Nicaragua is once again at a crossroads. The Ortega government continues to refuse to undertake any steps towards free and fair elections in November 2021. Systematic human rights violations by the regime have been amply documented by respected international organizations, and thousands of Nicaraguans have fled as refugees or gone into exile. On October 21 the OAS General Assembly adopted a resolution calling for free and fair elections in Nicaragua.
We endorse the bipartisan resolutions approved by the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives in support of democracy in Nicaragua. We are confident that the Biden administration will press for internationally monitored, free and fair elections in Nicaragua and respect for human rights.
David E. Bonior
Former Democratic Majority Whip
House of Representatives
Michael D. Barnes
House Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere Affairs