U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urging the Administration to stand up to Daniel Ortega's attempt to remain in power, in violation of the Nicaraguan Constitution. Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:
"In an attempt to extend his tenure in office, Daniel Ortega is violating the Nicaraguan Constitution, which states that the President may not serve consecutive terms. Ortega's ongoing violation of the Constitution is undermining democracy in Nicaragua.
"The people of Nicaragua deserve what their Constitution requires: free, fair, and transparent elections without the incumbent leader on the ballot.
"This type of anti-democratic behavior is par for the course for Ortega. Last year, I sent a letter to Secretary Clinton urging the Department of State not to recognize Ortega's appointee as the Nicaraguan Ambassador to the United States. The appointment was not in accordance with Nicaraguan law.
"Ortega's blatant disregard for the rule of law is in lock step with his despotic cohorts like Chavez and the Castro brothers. He is playing by his own rules and rejecting the rule of law, and thus far the only response from the United States has been silence.
"Ortega's reelection bid is simply illegal. The Administration is, once again, sleeping behind the wheel by remaining silent rather than condemning Ortega's attacks against democracy and the rule of law."
October 19, 2011
The Honorable Hillary R. Clinton
U.S. Department of State
Washington, DC 20521
Dear Secretary Clinton:
I am gravely concerned over the upcoming November elections in Nicaragua. Daniel Ortega has repeatedly violated the Nicaraguan constitution to consolidate power in order to run for president.
Article 191 of the Nicaraguan Constitution states that the Supreme Court does not have the power to change the Constitution. Only the National Assembly is empowered to partially amend the Constitution. Yet, in 2009, Ortega sympathizers at the Nicaraguan Supreme Court ruled in his favor to allow him to run for re-election.
Further, Article 147 of the Nicaraguan Constitution clearly states that a candidate cannot serve as President consecutively and that a President cannot serve more than two terms. Yet, Daniel Ortega has blatantly ignored the law by having registered to run for President for the third time and seeking to serve two consecutive terms in clear violation of the Nicaraguan Constitution.
I urge the Department of State to condemn the recent actions by Daniel Ortega to manipulate the democratic institutions in Nicaragua to serve his own authoritative aspirations and to interfere in the upcoming electoral process in Nicaragua. The United States must make it clear that we support the people of Nicaragua in their pursuit to uphold the rule of law and protect democratic principles.
With this I mind, I would ask that you please respond to the following questions:
* What actions is the Department of State undertaking to ensure that democracy and the rule of law is upheld in Nicaragua?
* Will the Department of State recognize the legality of the elections in November if Ortega is allowed to participate, in clear violation of the Nicaraguan Constitution?
Thank you very much for your attention to this matter.