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The NICA Act:US threats against Nicaragua escalate

News from Nicaragua | Friday, 29 September 2017 | Click here for original article

The US has renewed and escalated the threat of sanctions against Nicaragua. According to information received by the US based Nicaragua Network, the NICA Act could be scheduled for a vote in the US House of Representatives at any time.

The NICA Act would mean the reversal of the Nicaraguan government’s highly successful poverty reduction programmes; those who are most impoverished will suffer the most serious consequences.

The NICA Act represents an economic war that would severely undermine the stability not just of Nicaragua but the whole region.

The proposed Nicaraguan Investment Conditionality Act (NICA) of 2017 states that its purpose is ‘to oppose loans at international financial institutions for the Government of Nicaragua unless the Government of Nicaragua is taking effective steps to hold free, fair, and transparent elections, and for other purposes.’

This legislation would mean that the US, who effectively have veto powers on the boards of the international lending institutions, could block all loans to Nicaragua from the World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank and other institutions. Running at US$250 million annually, these loans are being invested in education, social programmes, electrification, roads and other infrastructure initiatives.

This proposed legislation has met with unanimous condemnation in Nicaragua by the government, the National Assembly, trade unions, the private sector, some opposition parties, and religious leaders.

A National Assembly statement pointed out that the Act would only serve to destabilise the country and the private sector represented in the Nicaraguan Chamber of Commerce and the Supreme Council of Private Enterprise has condemned it as counterproductive.

As part of an agreement between the Organisation of American States (OAS) and the Government of Nicaragua, an OAS delegation will accompany and observe the municipal elections due to take place on 5 November to guarantee free, fair and transparent elections. The NICA Act flies in the face of this OAS - of which the US is a member - initiative.

The OAS and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have called on US legislators to reconsider, expressing concern that the NICA Act would be counterproductive and undermine Nicaragua’s economic growth.

On 22 September, Roberto Arguello and Arturo Estopiñan, representing the Nicaraguan business sector, sent a letter to US Speaker of the House Paul Ryan denouncing the NICA Act on the grounds that it would have a devastating impact on the economy and would do nothing to promote democracy.