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Ambassador Daremblum? We will then hear from our witnesses, and without objection, the witnesses' prepared statements will be made a part of the record, and members may have 5 days to insert statements and questions for the record, subject to length limitations in the rules. Ortega and his dictatorial actions.
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Ortega will be able to change the Constitution at will and expand his absolute control over the legislative, judicial, and electoral branches of government. And at least in saying that it is not of direct strategic concern to the United States, other than human rights get violated, obviously, in our backyard, and the promotion of democracy is retarded and we certainly do not want the virus of autocracy to spread any further in the region, but the threat perceived in the eighties is not what we are talking about today.
It has been used for familial purposes. It is a way to move to try to make sure that we assure ourselves of democracy. Only 60 percent.
Is it still that way down there now? So I do think that the best approach is to continue to put pressure on him, work with the opposition, but to stay engaged. McCoy, you talked about no verifiable evidence and I think the ranking member talked about this too. I was wondering whether any of that has any effect to it.
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I thank the chairman. Yes, they are still there. The economy is growing modestly, 3 or 4 percent a year, but it is growing. The question is, you know, what should we do? His ability to distribute benefits financed by the Venezuelan aid helps.
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Even before these elections were held, the Nicaraguan political opposition was forced to decide if they should participate at all. And in this cuat I think the United States should follow a line of clearer and more resounding criticism of what is going on in Nicaragua. So withdrawing from Nicaragua and other perceived adversaries in Latin America I think will simply isolate the United States and leave a vacuum for others. What is the implication of that? By rigging the elections, trampling the Constitution, persecuting his political opponents, bullying journalists, he has laid the foundation for another Sandinista dictatorship.
The published show that Nicaraguans cast overmore votes for Assembly candidates than for President, although all candidates appeared on the same ballot. Nicaraguans now know that they have nowhere to turn for a redress of grievances, for the protection and preservation of their individual rights. He said, yes. Are you--I don't remember whether your tenure passed through those two points, but can you tell us what the administration's calculation was in sort of changing its approach toward Nicaragua between the first term and the second term?
What is it that they really want to accomplish in Nicaragua? But probably, yes, all the indications are that he had enough support to have won. Under the government of Ortega's predecessor, Enrique Bolaos, a decent, honest, and able man, Nicaragua slowly began to develop those independent and robust institutions that ensure true democracy and provide a check and balance on government excess, but Ortega has reversed these modest gains.
Let me first ask, Ambassador Daremblum, picking up on your answer to my colleague Mr. They were denied access. I don't think they are motivated by ideology.
And I am part of a government of what is still the wealthiest government in the world. Very well- known. We don't know about how many people are going through the Maras, Salvatruchas, from the south to the United States. In fact, in talking to one of our closest allies just recently in Colombia, what he is trying to do is engage and to make a difference and to benefit all of the people.
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The Iranians would come and say they are going to build a deepwater port on the Caribbean, a multibillion-dollar project, but nothing ever comes of it. Third, harming an economy that hicaragua just getting back on its feet is more likely to hasten a return to authoritarianism than to strengthen democracy.
This year The Carter Center declined to send a mission because of restrictions in the regulations on international and national observation. And it brings to mind what, again, many of these Nicaraguan Americans have told me that they see from this administration as a lack of support for those--for the forces of democracy in the region and silence toward the forces of dictatorship in the region, such as Mr. Burton [presiding].
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Ortega is also benefiting from international loans and high commodity prices. The real question is how can we engage Latin America to support democracy?
The waters that the United States has navigated for datinh in Nicaragua are about to get more turbulent, all the more important for the U. Speaking of benefits, of course Ortega himself is one of the chah wealthy individuals in Central America. It is to engage in pragmatic talks, to address the transnational issues of national interest to us all and that none of us can solve alone, and it is to recognize and appreciate the benefits of living in a relatively stable, democratic, and friendly neighborhood.
Sandinista attacks on democracy at home have been complemented by aggressive behavior abroad. Next, the question of institutionality.
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I spent a lot of time in Latin America. That ought to help the economy a little bit as well.
So tell me how do we then work more in a multilateral situation, using the guidelines that you laid out saying that we can't withdraw now, but let's put nicarauga pressure on so that the people of Nicaragua does have a democracy and we do have better elections going forth and build upon what the OAS has done or stated, and even the EU and what I think I hear The Carter Center talking about. We must certainly do whatever we can to promote democracy in some of these countries.
Threatening the freedom of the press is just another tactic by Ortega to prevent the Nicaraguan people and the whole outside world from learning the realities of his dictatorship, but Nicaraguans will not be deterred.
I thank you. I rather doubt that anything will come of it.
The United States should be exerting leadership with the Latin American countries. Nicraagua should be standing with Colombia and Panama, we should be standing with other countries that want to see freedom and democracy in Latin America.
And you are correct, the Ortega family has benefited tremendously over the last few years datinb from the kind of aid that is coming in. For now, for the reasons you outlined, we should probably nominate and send an Ambassador and continue to staff our Embassy and do the things to connect with the Nicaraguan people.