Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State
Today, we mark precisely two years to the day since the Nicaraguan people rose up peacefully to call for freedom and democracy, demanding change from the corrupt and repressive rule of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo. Unfortunately, the people’s calls for freedom and democracy were met with bullets. At least 325 innocent people have been killed, many by Ortega/Murillo regime snipers.
Last July, Ortega abandoned the national dialogue with the political opposition and to date has not complied with the terms to which his representatives agreed back in March 2019, including restoring civil liberties, freeing political prisoners, and instituting meaningful electoral reform.
Still, more than 70 political prisoners remain incarcerated. The Nicaraguan National Police and masked parapolice continue to spread fear through intimidation and violence against activists and critics. Attacks on the press continue unabated. Individual reporters are abused, and there are ongoing efforts to quell free speech and independent media.
The COVID-19 pandemic illustrates Ortega and Murillo’s misrule once again. This public health crisis raises the stakes even higher for the entire nation. President Ortega continues to fail to provide leadership to the Nicaraguan people, and their regime demonstrates its ongoing, blatant disregard for the well-being of their people by eschewing the public measures necessary to contain COVID-19. While the rest of the world cancels large gatherings and events, suspends non-essential economic activity, and adopts social distancing measures to slow the spread of coronavirus, Ortega and Murillo’s regime refuses to even acknowledge the danger of this deadly pandemic. The Nicaraguan people deserve responsible COVID-19 containment measures be instituted without delay.
We call on President Ortega and Vice President Murillo to initiate immediately a democratic transition – including the restoration of human rights guarantees and free and fair elections – to provide for a healthy, prosperous, and free Nicaragua.