Statement by USAID Administrator Mark Green on the Signing of H.R. 1918, the Nica Act, and of the Repression of Civil Society & Human Rights Defenders in Nicaragua

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For Immediate Release

Friday, December 21, 2018
Office of Press Relations
Telephone: +1.202.712.4320 | Email:

I commend President Trump for signing into law H.R. 1918, the Nicaraguan Human Rights and Anticorruption Act of 2018, also known as the Nica Act, sponsored by Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Congressman Albio Sires (D-NJ). I would also like to commend the leadership of Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Bill Nelson (D-FL).

This bill, which received broad bipartisan support in the Congress, seeks to hold violators of human rights and corrupt actors in Nicaragua accountable at a time when the Ortega regime is undermining democracy at every turn. The recent cancellation of legal status for nine human- rights and civil-society organizations in Nicaragua is just the latest example of the Ortega regime's wanton disregard for freedom, democratic ideals, and human dignity. These courageous local organizations are the voice of the Nicaraguan people, brutally repressed by the Ortega dynasty for years.

The organizations document and report abuses of human rights, detail the depth of the regime's corruption, and serve as watchdogs for Nicaraguan citizens. Daniel Ortega, Rosario Murillo, and their cronies are trying to silence those who shine a light on the brutal regime's horrific repression.

All Nicaraguans deserve to live in peace, with a government that is responsive to their needs. I call on the Ortega regime to restore the legal status of civil-society and human-rights organizations, release all political prisoners immediately, and to hold free and fair elections as soon as possible. The Nica Act is a positive step forward to sanction individuals and entities involved in corruption and human-rights abuses, as well as to deny the Ortega regime financial injections that could allow it to continue its oppression against the people of Nicaragua.

USAID is grateful for the tireless efforts of Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen; Congressman Sires; Senators Menendez, Cruz, Leahy, Rubio, and Nelson; and countless other advocates for human rights and democracy. We will continue to stand by the people of Nicaragua, and provide a critical lifeline to independent media, civil-society, and human-rights defenders as they seek a return to freedom and democracy.