WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), and Ted Cruz (R-Texas), 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.
“America’s strength is in our values, including defending human and civil rights around the world,” said Cardin. “The release of 91 political prisoners in Nicaragua is a positive step in the right direction. It demonstrates the power of the U.S. Congress taking a bipartisan stand in support of human rights. We must continue to hold the Ortega government accountable for its abuses and continue to support the Nicaraguan people in their fight for democracy and a better life.”
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.