The United States is considering stopping imports of Nicaraguan products as a measure of pressure on the government of Daniel Ortega, several government sources with knowledge of the plans indicated to the press. voice of america.
According to internal conversations, the US government would seek to block some of the most important items that Nicaragua exports to the United States through the CAFTA-DR Free Trade Agreement, in force since 2006.
The movement would be the “way out” that the White House would have found to limit Nicaragua’s participation in CAFTA-DR, after having concluded that it does not have legal authority to remove a member country from the treaty, officials told VOA.
Instead, they will argue their “authority to make these decisions for reasons of national security.”
The possibility of excluding Nicaragua from CAFTA was exposed by Biden administration officials themselves and endorsed bipartisanly by members of Congress, based on the provisions of the Law Reborn.
In July the Biden administration excluded Nicaragua from the list of sugar exporters as a measure of pressure.
In 2021, Nicaragua exported more than 4.6 billion dollars in products to the United States, about 1 million dollars more than in 2020, according to data from the US government.
The administration of President Joe Biden is torn between applying a policy of more pressure on Nicaragua or keeping the path open to bilateral dialogue with the Ortega government, which has been rejected by Managua on several occasions this year.
Last week, President Biden’s spokeswoman announced that the United States will continue to take action together with the international community due to the “drastic deterioration of respect for democratic principles and human rights” in Nicaragua.
The tension between the US and Nicaragua rose in level in August when Managua withdrew its approval of President Biden’s nominee for ambassador to that country.
According to the Sandinista government, the diplomat represents the “interfering policy” of Washington.
A White House National Security Council spokesman responded to a VOA request for comment that was not immediately available.
“no action to announce”.
Relations between Nicaragua and the United States have been strained since 2018, when violent protests broke out against President Daniel Ortega, leaving some 320 dead, according to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).
Washington, which is Managua’s main trading partner, has since imposed a series of individual sanctions on officials close to Ortega, as well as the president’s relatives.
The United States has approved several laws, among them the Nicaraguan Investment Conditionality Act (Nica Act) against the loans that the Nicaraguan government seeks from multilateral financial entities, and more recently the Law to Strengthen the Adherence of Nicaragua (Ley Renacer) , signed by President Joe Biden in November 2021 and which restricts loans from multilateral banks to the Ortega administration.
The Renacer Law asks the US president to review Nicaragua’s participation in the CAFTA-DR trade agreement.
Ortega has referred to the sanctions as “violations of international law” and has sought new allies, including China, with whom he reestablished relations in December 2021, after ending diplomatic ties with Taiwan.
It has also strengthened its relations with Russia, which it supported by reinforcing the narrative that it sought to “pacify” Ukraine during the invasion.
Journalist Houston Castillo contributed from San José, Costa Rica.