The Obama administration is consulting with Western Hemisphere nations to coordinate a reaction to allegations of fraud in Nicaragua’s presidential election last month, a top White House advisor said Thursday.
The voting had “significant deficiencies” but Washington wants “to maintain our robust relationship with the Nicaraguan people,” said Dan Restrepo, Western Hemisphere Affairs Director at the National Security Council.
Restrepo said he was optimistic that some agreement would be reached on a multilateral policy toward Nicaragua, but declined to go into details during a brief visit to The Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald.
His comments came on a day that two South Florida Republicans in the U.S. Congress urged President Barack Obama to take a strong stand against Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega’s “unconstitutional” re-election.
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who heads the House foreign affairs committee, told a committee hearing on Nicaragua that the Obama administration “appeared to do nothing” as Ortega maneuvered around a constitution that forbids re-election.
“The U.S. must not recognize Daniel Ortega as Nicaragua’s leader and should call for new free, fair, and transparent elections that are in keeping with Nicaragua’s constitution and reflect the will of the Nicaraguan people,” Ros-Lehtinen added.
Rep. David Rivera said many of his Nicaraguan-American constituents have told him that “they see from this administration a lack of support for the forces of democracy in the region, and silence toward the forces of dictatorship in the region, such as Mr. Ortega and his dictatorial actions.”
Cuban-American Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ) at the same time introduced a bipartisan resolution supporting the democratic aspirations of the Nicaraguan people and condemning the continuing deterioration of constitutional order in the Central American nation.
Ros-Lehtinen also criticized the Organization of American States for its allegedly weak defense of democracy in Nicaragua and other parts of the Western Hemisphere. She has proposed cutting U.S. funding to the OAS.
Restrepo said that while the OAS clearly needs reforms, the Obama administration favors engagement with the hemispheric organization and supports “its continued existence.”
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