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Washington, D.C. – Today, the House of Representatives passed the Nicaraguan Investment Conditionality Act (H.R. 1918). The legislation opposes loans at international financial institutions for the Government of Nicaragua unless the Government of Nicaragua takes effective steps to hold free, fair, and transparent elections.

On the House floor prior to the vote, Chairman Royce delivered the following remarks (as prepared for delivery):

“The world has watched in horror as Venezuela suffers economic ruin amid a political crisis that has eroded democracy and threatens to destabilize the region. Meanwhile, less noticed, Nicaragua continues to violate the region’s democratic values by failing to conduct fair and transparent elections, and by denying Nicaraguans freedom of expression and association.

I am grateful for the leadership of the Chairman Emeritus of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee, Mr. Duncan and Mr. Sires, in bringing this measure to the floor.

This legislation will require U.S. representatives at international financial institutions to use the vote and influence of the United States to oppose any loans to Nicaragua unless that country has shown a willingness to respect the human and democratic rights of its citizens.

Nicaragua’s authoritarian president, Daniel Ortega – yes that Daniel Ortega who lost the presidency in 1990! – has tightened his grip on power by weakening government institutions and the opposition, and ensuring power for himself and his family by excluding international election observers. By requiring that the Secretary of State to certify that Nicaragua has taken steps to provide election transparency and combat corruption before the United States votes to provide the Government of Nicaragua with loans, we help ensure that taxpayer money is not used to line the pockets of corrupt authoritarians, or to derail the legitimate democratic rights of Nicaraguan citizens.

We need only to look to Venezuela to see that the consolidation of state power and organized crime and corruption go hand in hand. As a region, we must stand in strong opposition to authoritarianism and corruption in Nicaragua, while not punishing the people of Nicaragua. Because of this, the authors of this bill have ensured a carve-out that exempts loans that are for humanitarian purposes. This bill stands squarely with the people of Nicaragua and their hopes for freedom and democracy and the rule of law. Its passage is just one way that we can demonstrate this support.

I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting this measure, and I reserve the balance of my time.”