Above photo: A man waits for a public transportation bus next to a stand that sells T-shirts, flags and hats, with a Sandinista theme, at a bus stop in Managua, Nicaragua, Wednesday, November 3, 2021.
Washington has ratcheted up the pressure just days before Nicaragua’s presidential and parliamentary elections, approving legislation calling for more sanctions and other punitive measures.
The bipartisan Renacer Act was passed by 387 votes to 35 on Wednesday evening and will be sent to President Joe Biden to pass into law.
It is expected to be introduced ahead of Sunday’s poll to pile additional pressure on President Daniel Ortega and his Sandinista government.
The Senate foreign relations committee welcomed the passing of the draconian and reactionary Bill.
Senator Bob Menendez said that he was proud to see unity between Republicans and Democrats with “the dictator’s coronation around the corner.
“We cannot turn away from the people of Nicaragua as they cry out in desperation,” he said.
But the US-based anti-war group Code Pink described it as “a blueprint for regime change in Nicaragua by making the economy scream.”
It said that the act would “give future administrations the legal framework for imposing broad sectoral sanctions and the justification for more coup attempts.”
The legislation targets government officials, relatives of Mr Ortega, members of the National Police, the National Army, the Supreme Election Council as well as “party members and elected officials of the Sandinista Liberation Front and their families.”
It also recommends the US administration review Nicaragua’s continued participation in the Central American Free Trade Agreement, which would cost the country around $1.5 billion (£1.1bn) in exports from the textile sector alone.
Nicaraguans are expected to vote overwhelmingly for Mr Ortega and the Sandinistas in Sunday’s elections.
The final pre-election survey by M&R Consulting showed that 75.4 per cent are set to vote for the Sandinista National Liberation Front.
The United States has long sought to overthrow Mr Ortega. In the 1980s it waged a brutal war against the democratically elected government, funding death squads and bombing campaigns while mining the Central American country’s ports.
Despite being found guilty of violating international law by the International Court of Justice in a 1986 case which ordered the US to pay reparations, the US has refused to stump up.
More latterly it backed a failed coup attempt in 2018 and has pumped millions of dollars into opposition news organisations, NGOs and political figures.
Mr Ortega accuses Washington of terrorism and attempting to undermine the elections.