Letter to Secretary of State on Global Magnitsky Act

Jun 5, 2018
 
                                                           Congress of the United States
                                                                  Washington, DC 20515
 
                                                          June 5,2018
The President
The White House
Washington, DC
 
Dear Mr. President:
 
We appreciate your commitment to implementing the Global Magnitsicy Human Rights Accountability Act (“the
Global Magnitsky Act”) in order to hold accountable those responsible for human rights abuses, corruption, and
illicit activities. As the political situation in Nicaragua worsens, we ask you to determine whether Nicaraguan
nationals Francisco Lopez and Francisco Diaz meet the criteria to be held accountable under the Global
Magnitsicy Act.
 
Last year, many of the undersigned Members of Congress sent you a letter urging you to take immediate action
to determine whether Nicaraguan nationals Roberto Jose Rivas Reyes and Francisco Lopez met the criteria to be
sanctioned in accordance with the law. We wish to express our appreciation for your Administration’s
designation of Mr. Rivas on December 21, 2017, but more can and should be done.
 
As we wrote last year, we firmly believe that ALBANISA, the subsidiary of Petráleos de Venezuela (PDVSA)
in Nicaragua should receive scrutiny from our law enforcement and Treasury Department officials. In early
2017, U.S. embassy officials arranged a meeting for the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to brief the
Nicaraguan business community about risks associated with continuing business deals with ALBANISA,
PDVSA’s subsidiary in Nicaragua.
 
In our letter, we also asked for you to consider Francisco Lopez, Vice-President of ALBANISA, for
designation under the Global Magnitsky Act. Francisco Lopez is accused of signing and profiting from loans as
head of that organization. We provided the following media excerpts that focus on Mr. Lopez’s problematic
stewardship in this position:
 
• According to a Confidencial article published on January 1, 2013, Mr. Lopez used his power to grant an
almost $1 million contract to his own family-owned TecnologIa y Sistemas S.A. (Tecnosa, by its
designation in Spanish). The check was given as a “deposit” for a social program, Calles para el Pueblo.
However, after investigating the project, there was little information found. In fact, no municipalities
were listed and none of the municipalities had even heard of Tecnosa.
 
• Conjidencial also states that the check signed by Mr. Lopez cited in the article is half of the almost $1
million contract that comes from the “Venezuelan state cooperation that has been privatized.”
 
• Plaza Publica published information similar to that contained in the Confidencial report on January 28,
2013, but added that Tecnosa benefited under the Ortega government by receiving tax exemptions and
loans from another Nicaraguan agency under scrutiny, Instituto de Seguridad Socia4 for the same
project named above.
 
• Mr. Lopez was also listed as board member of BANCORP, bank of ALBANISA, until his name
disappeared from the website on January 12, 2018.
 
 
As you are aware, last month, Daniel Ortega sought to unilaterally impose reforms to the Instituto de Seguridad
Social (1NSS), which due to corruption and mismanagement has been running on a deficit. Under these reforms,
employers would have to contribute a higher portion of their salary towards social security. This attempt was
met with strong opposition and triggered widespread protests. In response, Ortega unleashed the government’s
National Police on these protesters. According to recent reports, as of May 28, at least 81 people have been
killed, over 868 people have been injured, and more than 438 have people been detained.
On April 22, your Administration stated that “[w]e condenm the violence and the excessive force used by police
and other against civilians who are exercising their constitutional right to freedom of expression and assembly.”
Then, on May 31, your Administration also stated that “those individuals responsible for human rights
violations will be held accountable by the international community in international fora.”
 
Therefore, we now urge you to investigate Francisco Diaz, Deputy Commissioner of the National Police and de
facto Director, to determine whether he is eligible to be sanctioned under the Global Magnitsky Act for abusing
the fundamental human rights of the Nicaraguan people and for his role in the killings of dozens of peaceful
protesters.
 
On May 9, 2018, a group of police officers attacked the habitants of a small community in Managua, according
to reports. Journalists who were covering the incident were threatened by 30 armed National Police officers.
Francisco Diaz made a statement saying the police were only monitoring traffic and that four members of the
patrol were hurt by bullets. Eyewitnesses denied his version of the story.
 
Elsewhere at least three students were allegedly killed for taking part in protests around the Polytechnic
University and National University. The Associated Press confirmed the mobilization of police against the
protestors. Francisco Diaz denied any policy presence in the area, according to the Washington Post.
 
These are not isolated incidents. 20 young Nicaraguans were beaten and stripped of their belongings in front of
the Supreme Electoral Council in 2012, after the students had spent 29 days asking for the expulsion of the de
facto magistrates on the council, according to reports. When asked about the incident, Mr. Diaz minimized the
situation and said that the National Police was determined to “consolidate and strengthen citizen security” and
“prevent drug trafficking.”
 
The people of Nicaragua have taken to the streets en masse to protest Daniel Ortega’s relentless and brutal
oppression for over a month now, and they are calling for help. We must not allow human rights abusers and
corrupt officials to continue violating their rights without consequence. Instead, we must make it clear to the
Ortega regime that the era of impunity for abuses is over, and that the United States stands with the Nicaraguan
people in their fight for the rule of law and for basic freedoms.
 
Therefore, we call on the Department of State and the Department of Treasury, working with other relevant
Executive Branch agencies, to promptly investigate Francisco Lopez and Francisco Diaz and, if merited, to
impose sanctions against them as authorized under the Global Magnitsky Act. We look forward to your
response and a continued dialogue with you to support the robust implementation of the Global Magnitsky Act.