United States congressman Albio Sires sent a letter to the director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Kristalina Georgieva, asking her not to continue providing loans to the Ortega regime in Nicaragua, after the international financial organization disbursed 353.5 million dollars last August.
The funds, as argued by the IMF at that time, were to face the economic impact generated by the pandemic in Nicaragua. The disbursement was made directly to the Central Bank of Nicaragua (BCN), through the Special Drawing Rights (SDR) mechanism, used by the IMF to cover the special reserve needs of countries throughout the world and to face the Covid-19 pandemic.
In the letter sent on September 24, Sires and the also congressman Mark Green, allege that the Ortega regime does not use the resources to combat the pandemic that they denied for several months, but rather that these funds served to “self-enrich” Ortega’s inner circle, him and Rosario Murillo, his wife and Vice President.
“Unfortunately, the evidence suggests that the Ortega regime will not use those funds for that purpose (to combat covid-19). When the pandemic began, Ortega disappeared from public view for more than a month. His government never closed businesses or issued measures to stay in the homes, instead, they promoted large mass concentrations,” says part of the letter.
In addition, they point out that the regime has underreported the cases of Covid-19 that have occurred in the country since March 2020, when the Ministry of Health reported the first case of the disease, and that it also ordered that night burials be carried out.
Since the first wave of the pandemic affected Nicaragua, citizens recorded “express burials,” which took place when MINSA ordered to bury a person at night to prevent people from realizing that they died from Covid-19.
The latest MINSA report, which covers September 14 to 21, indicates that there were 705 new cases of coronavirus in the country, the highest number recorded since the first case was detected in 2020. However, they only report that one person died of the disease, to total 203 in almost a year and a half.
Independent doctors have reported higher numbers. The Covid-19 Citizen Observatory, for example, which collects data from doctors who are treating the disease, reported in its latest report that from September 9 to 15, there were at least 276 deaths, which would amount to a total of 4,809 deaths attributable to the disease.
“We demand that the IMF board of directors use more focused mechanisms, such as special allocations, to increase the liquidity of democratically elected governments and that they can be held accountable if they misuse these funds,” the congressmen added.
Until free elections are guaranteed
They also requested the IMF to adopt new policies that avoid continuing to provide loans to the Ortega regime: “We demand that they adopt formal measures that prohibit Nicaragua from receiving IMF funds until free and fair elections are held, and that independent organizations document an improvement in human rights”.
They end the letter by recalling that the Nica Act Law was approved in 2018, which limited the access of the Ortega regime to international funds. In that year, massive protests took place in Nicaragua to demand the resignation of power by Ortega and Murillo.
These were suffocated with bullets that left at least 328 people dead and, since then, human rights have deteriorated to such an extent that since May 2021, the regime began a new hunt for opponents targeting leaders and presidential candidates, 37 of them have since then been arrested.
Now the regime intends to hold the elections in November only with the participation of small allied parties, after eliminating all competition that would threaten its power.
This article was originally published in Spanish in Confidencial and translated by Havana Times