The eventual approval of the Nica Act, which could block all loans and international aid received by the second smallest economy in Latin America, re-establishes the US’ historical intervention in a country solely seeking peaceful growth.
Marcos Ortiz F.
“I think that for the US, the Sandinistas are unfinished business leftover from the Cold War.” Over several minutes of explaining the long history of conflict between the United States of America and Nicaragua, Helen Yuill from Nicaragua solidarity campaign, summarises in just one phrase the relationship that binds – or more likely separates- both countries.
On April 27, Ted Cruz presented the US Senate with the Nicaraguan Investment Conditionality Act, more commonly known as the Nica Act – the bill that seeks to block any type of financial aid or loans to Nicaragua, the second smallest economy on the continent.
“Nicaragua and all the people that love freedom in Central America depend on the leadership of the United States of America,” argued the Republican Senator. The excuse of a vigilant and authoritarian father used in the past, for example, to help overthrow in 1973 the democratic government of Chile’s Salvador Allende.
“Given Nicaragua’s dependency on international loans and investment, it could have very serious consequences for its society, economy and the entire region,” explains Helen Yuill.
With growth rates sustained between 4 and 5%, since 2010, the Nicaraguan economy reached a growth of 63.5% in the decade. And yet, it continues being a victim of the past.
“It’s fairly stable at the moment but that stability is very fragile and vulnerable to pressures and foreign influence,” adds Yuill.
Recently, the Nicaraguan government has sought to reduce poverty levels, which has decreased from 42.5% to 29.6% between 2009 and 2014. Despite that, the World Bank insists, “Nicaragua is still one of the least developed countries in Latin America and access to basic services is a daily challenge.”
The threat of the Nica Act
But the hard work undertaken to attract foreign investment and aid remains overshadowed by the Nica Act. “In any economic downturn, it will always be the people in the margins of society, the most vulnerable, that suffer its impact more dramatically,” indicates Helen Yuill.
“There are different ways to intervene, not just with troops. Today, coup d’etats are carried out through National Assemblies and Congresses,” explains Jose Antonio Zepeda, the leader of the Nicaraguan teachers, to The Prisma.
A large portion of the approximately 250 million dollars received in 2016 through the World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank was directed to infrastructure, electricity, highway construction, renewable energy and education programmes.
“The business sector would also be affected with the eventual suspension of loans,” assures Helen Yuill. But there’s more, “Not only would it affect Nicaragua. Obviously unemployment would increase dramatically and people would seek other ways to live that could mean emigrating, which would have an impact throughout the region but also on the US.”
This is how the Nicaraguans could eventually add themselves in great numbers to the almost half million Salvadorians, Hondurans, and Guatemalans that every year cross Mexico on their way to the US. “It’s a contradiction. Donald Trump is trying to close the border and leave people out but the Nica Act could have the opposite effect by causing major instability in the region,” explains Yuill.
From the US, it is argued that there were human rights violations and a lack of transparency in the November 2016 presidential elections, which Daniel Ortega won with 72% of the vote.
It was because of these same reasons that the General Secretary of the Organisation of American States, Luis Almagro, visited Nicaragua, where he signed along with the government, a memorandum of understanding that among other things granted the creation of an observer mission to supervise the parliamentary elections later this year.
“The introduction of something like the Nica Act by US Representatives and Senators is a complete contradiction to what the OAS is trying to do,” argues Yuill.
In fact, in April this year, the OAS expressed concern over the resurgence of the Nica Act, a project that worries organisations like Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign in the United Kingdom and Nicaragua Network in the United States of America, who consider that this is about intervention in a county where the left governs as in Venezuela, Cuba, Ecuador and Bolivia.
The majority that the Republicans have in both houses of Congress could mean that if there is no strong opposition the bill will be approved unanimously, which could alarmingly speed up its process.
Photo credit: Pixabay – (Translated by Inez Cifuentes)