This alert is issued by Nicaragua Network/Alliance for Global Justice and ALBA USA, a community based, educational non-profit organization in Los Angeles, CA.
ACTION:Call John Ballard at the Nicaragua Desk at the State Department (202-647-1510) and tell him (or leave a message) that you support extending both of two waivers to Nicaragua this year. Tell him that you believe Nicaragua has more than proven its willingness to resolve property disputes and that if the IMF has praised Nicaragua’s fight against poverty, the US has no right to undermine that effort. If you don’t want to call, you can send an e-mail to an assistant at email@example.com asking for it to be sent on to Mr. Ballard at the Nicaragua Desk. Also contact your Senators and US Representative with the same message. You can find their phone numbers and e-mails at www.senate.gov and www.house.gov. If you live in Massachusetts (or even if you don’t) a key senator to contact is Sen. John Kerry, Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION: The Helms-Gonzalez Amendment of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act of FY 1994-95 requires the U.S. government to refuse aid to countries that expropriated U.S. citizen lands, unless the President (or those acting on his behalf) provides such countries with a waiver.
If such a waiver is not granted, the U.S. government not only withholds aid, but votes against loans for these countries within all major global financial institutions, such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
There is also a second waiver, regarding what is called “budgetary transparency” where, applying U.S. administrative standards, a foreign country must make public its annual government budget and follow strict US standards of democracy and governability. While money from the Bolivarian Alliance of the Peoples of Our Americas (ALBA) – which funds important anti-poverty programs – is not included in the government budget as demanded by the US, Yale-educated economist Nestor Avendaño notes that it is included in Nicaragua’s balance of payment statement. That has satisfied the IMF and World Bank, as officially reported by the Nicaraguan Central Bank.
In either case (the property waiver or the transparency waiver), Nicaragua has substantially complied with U.S. demands. As well, most of the lands that were confiscated in the 1980s once belonged to former Nicaraguan Somocistas (close military and government associates of the Somoza dictatorship—some of them war criminals) who had obtained political asylum in the U.S. and were later granted citizenship. Others had mortgaged their properties, spent the money, became US citizens, and then demanded return of the properties!
Due to political pressure from extreme right-wing Cuban-American Miami politicians in Congress, there is a high probability that the Obama State Department may this year for the first time deny the waivers, which are critical to the economic and financial stability of the Nicaraguan people. US Ambassador to Nicaragua Phyllis Powers said recently that it would be “very difficult” for the waivers to be extended this year. However, Nicaraguan government economic policies are supported by the business community and Nicaraguan business representatives are travelling to Washington, DC, the second week in June to lobby for the waivers.
ALBA-USA and other local sister organizations in Los Angeles, and the Nicaragua Network/Alliance for Global Justice nationally, are launching a lobbying effort and P.R. campaign to raise the awareness of members of Congress and the Administration, that both waivers must be granted. Nicaragua is not only considered “the best disciple of the recipes of the IMF”, it has made the most substantial progress in combating drug trafficking and in poverty reduction in Central America. We ask you to join us in our effort to obtain these waivers on behalf of Nicaragua and its poor.
For more information, contact the Nicaragua Network (a project of the Alliance for Global Justice) at nicanet@AFGJ.org, or call 202-544-9355.