WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), and Ben Cardin (D-Md.), all members of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on Wednesday announced that Nicaragua released 91 political prisoners following their public pressure on the Ortega government. In December, Murphy along with Cruz and Cardin, led seven senators in demanding more information on the United States’ Nicaragua policy from U.S. Department of State Secretary Mike Pompeo, U.S. Treasury Department Secretary Steve Mnuchin, and USAID Administrator Mark Green. The members requested a briefing on what the administration is doing to hold the Ortega government accountable for human rights violations, as well as an update on the negotiated settlement to the crisis and what the administration is doing to address the humanitarian situation among Nicaraguan refugees in Costa Rica.
“I’m relieved that the Ortega government, following pressure from me, Senator Cruz, and Senator Cardin, released these 91 political prisoners. This proves that it does matter when the United States stands up for human rights. The Trump administration has failed time and time again to raise human rights concerns with foreign leaders, and in this vacuum, it’s been up to those of us in Congress to hold up this key pillar of American foreign policy,” said Murphy.
The current political crisis in Nicaragua began in April 2018 with a student-led demonstration against announced social security reforms. After a brutal police crackdown, the protestors shifted their focus on opposing Daniel Ortega’s authoritarianism and violence against protestors worsened. In response to the human rights abuses, Congressed passed the Nicaragua Human Rights and Anticorruption Act which became law exactly one year ago on December 20, 2018.
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