NicaNotes: Send messages to your Senators! Oppose new & old sanctions on Nicaragua!

By Katherine Hoyt and Richard Kohn

[Katherine Hoyt is a retired National Co-Coordinator of the Nicaragua Network/Alliance for Global Justice. In retirement she has published “Unequal Encounters: A Reader in Early Latin American Political Thought” from Lexington Books. Rick Kohn is a professor at the University of Maryland and member of Friends of Latin America. Every fall he offers a seminar course titled “Sustainable Agriculture and Environment in Nicaragua” which also includes a travel-study experience in Nicaragua.]

On June 8, 2023, U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Tim Kaine (D-VA) introduced legislation (S 1881) which would extend the U.S. government’s authority to impose sanctions on Nicaragua through December 31, 2028!  The bill is now in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, with no vote taken yet – so there is time for us to take action together!

The Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI) has financed small businesses, water projects, housing, sustainable energy, reforestation, roads and bridges in Nicaragua. The proposed new sanctions would attempt to cut off these loans. (Photo: CABEI)

The new sanctions seek to restrict loans for economic development from the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI) which funds roads, water and energy projects, reforestation, and housing in the country. The old sanctions stopped most loans from the IMF, World Bank, and the IDB. Now the US wants to stop the CABEI loans also! All these restrictions should be lifted!

Nicaragua has achieved progress for its people in healthcare, education, poverty reduction, and gender equity! The government has brought electricity and potable water to people throughout the country and Nicaragua now has the best roads in Central America!  But sanctions adversely affect the economy, increase unemployment, and encourage migration to our borders – and they cause the most harm for the most vulnerable people in the country.

Click here to send messages to your Senators!

Members of anti-imperialist organizations from around the U.S. visited Nicaragua and demanded an end to sanctions. Photo: Workers World

The sanctions would infringe upon the property rights of US citizens and residents investing in Nicaragua by mandating no new investment, which might include home improvement! This means lost business and income.

Under the new proposed sanctions, people in the US would be deprived of some of the best-tasting coffee in the world, and a top source for fair-trade coffee! US Americans would also not be able to eat sustainably-produced grass-fed Nicaraguan beef.  These product restrictions are in addition to those against sugar and gold exports to the US, already banned from Nicaragua.

These proposed US sanctions mandate a search for violations or some other way to suspend Nicaragua from DR-CAFTA, a trade agreement which has benefited both the US and Nicaragua. But such a suspension could only occur by mutual agreement among all the countries that signed it, which is unlikely unless extreme pressure is placed on these countries, thereby disrupting harmony in the entire region.

These measures are cruel and do not reflect the high values to which we should aspire. Sanctions are harming the relationship between the US and Nicaragua. Rather than “promoting democracy,” history shows that such coercive measures can destabilize a country.  They send a message to the Nicaraguan people that the US is not being a “good neighbor” and does not have their best interests at heart.

The US should respect the sovereignty of all its global neighbors, including Nicaragua.  Instead of the US imposing coercive measures, the two countries should engage in constructive dialogue.

Besides sending your letters to YOUR Senators, you should also call members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee where this bill has been sent! Here is a list of Committee members: Enough opposition at the committee level can stop the bill from going to the Senate floor. The Capitol switchboard number is: (202) 224-3121.

Read the letter, personalize it with your own experiences in Nicaragua, and click to send it to your Senators!
The letter will appear when you click and you will be able to personalize it.

The letter–

Subject: Urgent Appeal to Oppose US Sanctions on Nicaragua

Dear Senator,

I am writing to urge you to oppose the sanctions proposed against Nicaragua by Senators Marco Rubio and Tim Kaine (S 1881). These sanctions, if implemented, would have devastating consequences for the people of Nicaragua and would further deteriorate the already strained relationship between our two nations. I believe it is crucial to lift the existing sanctions and refrain from imposing any new measures on Nicaragua.

The current sanctions imposed on Nicaragua are reminiscent of the aggression witnessed in the 1980s when the Reagan Administration was involved in illicit activities, including the sale of cocaine and weapons to fund terrorists in Nicaragua. These actions resulted in the suffering of thousands of Nicaraguans and left the country impoverished and unstable. It is disheartening to see history repeating itself with the resumption of interventionist policies under the Trump and Biden administrations.

Contrary to the negative portrayal often presented, Nicaragua has made significant strides in improving the lives of its citizens. The Sandinista-led government has restored free healthcare, constructed hospitals and clinics, and revitalized the education system by providing free education from preschool through trade school, college, and professional school. These social programs have alleviated poverty, reduced hunger, and fostered economic growth in Nicaragua. It is important to recognize and support these achievements rather than undermine them with sanctions.

The proposed sanctions, if enacted, would severely impact US-Nicaragua trade relations. Attempts to suspend Nicaragua’s participation in the Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA) would be detrimental to both economies and, if successful, jeopardize the progress made in building Nicaragua’s infrastructure and economy. Additionally, blocking imports of sugar, gold and now coffee and beef from Nicaragua would not only harm US consumers but also undermine the sustainable agricultural practices and climate-friendly production methods employed by Nicaraguan farmers.

Furthermore, the new sanctions seek to restrict loans for economic development and infringe upon the property rights of US citizens and residents investing in Nicaragua. These measures would hinder the growth of the Nicaraguan economy, deprive individuals of their investments, and undermine the potential for mutually beneficial relationships between our two countries.

The accusations against Nicaragua lack substantial evidence and fail to consider the will of the Nicaraguan people. Claims of electoral misconduct and violations of religious freedom are unfounded, as the elections in Nicaragua have been observed to be free and fair, and the government has taken appropriate measures to maintain law and order. It is crucial to respect the sovereignty and democratic choices of the Nicaraguan people, rather than imposing external demands for regime change.

The sanctions on Nicaragua serve no meaningful purpose and only perpetuate hardship and suffering among the population. Rather than isolating Nicaragua, we should engage in constructive dialogue, promote diplomacy, and support the Nicaraguan government’s substantial efforts to improve human rights (e.g., healthcare, education, environment), and economic development in the country.

I implore you, as a representative of the people, to oppose the new and existing sanctions on Nicaragua. Let us foster a relationship of mutual respect and cooperation, ensuring the well-being of both Nicaraguans and US Americans. It is time to reconsider the misguided approach towards Nicaragua and embrace policies that promote peace, prosperity, and solidarity among nations.

Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter.

[Your Name

By Nan McCurdy

Trade Schools Have Graduated 13,000
Nicaragua’s municipal trade schools have graduated 13,265 students nationwide as of September 12, of which 74% are women and 26% are men, reported the government. So far this year, 28,523 students have enrolled in the schools. This program is promoted by the government through INATEC and the Mayors’ Offices to strengthen the knowledge, skills and talents of young people and adults. At a national level, more than 500 courses are being developed, among them: Motorcycle Repair, Barbering, Cooking, Pastry Making, Creative Sewing, and Handicrafts, among others. (Radio La Primerisima, 13 Sept. 2023)

Five Feline Species Inhabit Indio Maíz Reserve
Five feline species have been observed in the Indio Maíz Biological Reserve by means of camera traps installed by the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources. MARENA’s biodiversity specialist, Maynor Fernández, told La Primerísima that these species are the jaguar, puma, jaguarundi (Puma yagouaroundi), ocelot and margay (Leopardus wiedii). He noted that, in Cerro Saslaya National Park, located in the Bosawás Biosphere Reserve, camera traps have also been installed with which only the puma has been detected. The Bosawas cameras have also captured white-tailed deer and great curassow. MARENA recently installed cameras in the natural reserves of Alamikamba and Limbaika in the North Caribbean, areas where jaguar and tapir tracks were found. Two species of felines have been seen in Masaya Volcano National Park: the ocelot was seen for the first time in June of this year and last week the jaguarundi was seen. Fernández said that these two species are very rarely seen, and that while area rangers had already reported their sightings, there was no physical evidence of them until they were captured by the National Park’s camera traps. The discovery of these two species adds to the tourist value of the Masaya Volcano National Park. (Radio La Primerisima, 13 Sept. 2023)

Nicaragua First Country to Join World Coffee Agreement
Nicaragua has now formally adhered to the new agreement adopted in 2022 by the International Coffee Organization (ICO). In October 2022, the Minister of Development, Industry and Trade, Jesús Bermúdez Carvajal, signed the agreement on behalf of Nicaragua during the 134th session of the International Coffee Council, the highest authority of the ICO, held in Bogota. The Agreement, successor to the 2007 Coffee Agreement, was subsequently approved by the National Assembly and signed by President Daniel Ortega. The Agreement constitutes an innovative instrument that will allow, among other things, the creation of more effective strategies to achieve a prosperous, sustainable and inclusive coffee sector; and to be able to address problems, opportunities and challenges presented by the actors involved in the coffee chain. The Nicaraguan Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Giselle Morales Echaverry, delivered the legal instrument signed by President Ortega, which ratifies Nicaragua’s adherence to the new Agreement, to Executive Director of the ICO Vanusia Nogueira. (Radio La Primerisima, 13 Sept. 2023)

Deputies Pay Tribute to San Jacinto Heroes
National Assembly deputies, headed by Assembly President Dr. Gustavo Porras and others, paid homage to the Heroes of the Battle of San Jacinto, 167 years after the historic deed. The deputies from the different political parties of the country laid wreaths at the monuments located at the San Jacinto Hacienda to honor the heroes. Dr. Gustavo Porras recalled that the first defeat of the Yankee empire was that of our heroes who fought against the US intervention in that historic battle, and through the centuries the feeling of dignity and national sovereignty was forged. “A historic battle, the defeat of William Walker and his filibusters is a feat not only for Nicaragua but for America; they were our patriots who fought against the intervention, that is why we come to remember our national heroes Andrés Castro, General José Dolores Estrada, and our Native American Heroes, the “Flecheros.” (Radio La Primerisima, 12 Sept. 2023)

President Ortega Participates in the G77+China Summit
President Daniel Ortega traveled to Havana to participate in the summit of the Group of 77 plus China from Sept. 15 to Sept. 17. Some 100 heads of state and government participated in the G77 and China summit. Cuba assumed the pro tempore presidency of the Group in January. This meeting of the Group was held with the theme “Current challenges of development. The role of science, technology and innovation.” The summit was intended to contribute to efforts to move towards a unified approach by the countries of the South to the major challenges they face internationally. It was a key forum for consultation in the run-up to the Sustainable Development Goals Summit held on the 18th and 19th in New York, and the Summit of the Future, to be held in 2024. The summit, held at the Convention Palace of the Cuban capital, allowed the more than 100 high-level delegations to express a vision on current problems.

The Summit adopted a declaration that defends the claims of developing countries. The G77+China is the most diverse grouping in the multilateral sphere, with 134 member states representing two-thirds of the membership of the United Nations and 80% of the world’s population. At the closing of the event, the host, Cuban Prime Minister Manuel Marrero, emphasized that for a few days Havana became the capital of the world and a center of hope. The Group’s final declaration highlights the importance of research, development and technology transfer in the field of human health, taking into account the increase in emerging and re-emerging communicable and non-communicable diseases. In addition, it reiterates the need for an effective response to the urgent threat of climate change, especially through increased financing, technology transfer and capacity building based on the priorities of developing countries. (Radio La Primerisima, 15 and 16 Sept. 2023)

Russia Invites Nicaragua to Meeting to Counter Coups
The Secretary of the Security Council of the Russian Federation, Nikolai Patrushev, officially invited the Special Representative of the President of Nicaragua for Russian Affairs, Laureano Ortega Murillo, to visit the Russian Federation leading an Intergovernmental Delegation to a new meeting of the Working Group on Countering Color Revolutions in November 2023. The Security Council of the Russian Federation is a constitutional body of the Presidency of Russia that elaborates presidential decisions on national security and other issues of strategic interest. (Radio La Primerisima, 14 Sept. 2023)

National Surfing Championship
With the participation of the best national and foreign surfers, the National Surfing Circuit 2023 began on Sept. 16 in Playa El Remanso, which is in the municipality of San Juan del Sur, Department of Rivas. Between 80 and 100 surfers in the categories Open, Junior, Longboard and under 16, both male and female, will participate. These events are crucial for the sport and the national team, and for promoting tourism. See photos:  (Radio La Primerisima, 15 Sept. 2023)