LatinNews Daily - 20 March 2023

In brief: Pressure to stop BCIE lending to Nicaragua

*US Representative Michael McCaul (R-TX), the chairman of the House of Representatives foreign affairs committee, and his counterpart in the upper house, Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), have sent a series of bipartisan letters to the presidents of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras – Rodrigo Chaves, Nayib Bukele, Alejandro Giammattei, and Xiomara Castro respectively – urging them to leverage their position in the Central American development bank (BCIE) to stop its development funding from “propping up the Nicaraguan regime of Daniel Ortega and [First Lady] Rosario Murillo.” The joint letter cites the recent report by United Nations (UN) experts accusing Ortega of crimes against humanity and remarks by Pope Francis which “likened the brutality of the Ortega-Murillo regime to that of Hitler’s dictatorship”, underlining these “shocking characterisations of the situation in Nicaragua underscore the urgency of ending a ‘business as usual’ approach” with the Ortega government. A multilateral development bank that seeks to promote regional economic integration, BCIE has approved nearly US$3.5bn in funding for initiatives to be implemented under the Ortega government, according to the letter which notes that in recent years the US has taken steps to “increase the scrutiny of and curtail funding from multilateral institutions that would directly benefit” the Ortega government. It highlights the Renacer Act (approved by the US legislature in November 2021) under which the US government has taken steps to ensure that any such multilateral funding only passes through entities with “full technical, administrative, and financial independence” from the Ortega government.

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