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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Members of South Florida’s Congressional delegation and the Nicaraguan community met to discuss the unrest in the Central American country that has claimed hundreds of lives.
“The United States will not remind silent and we will do everything we can so that cancer is wiped out from the Western Hemisphere,” said Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart.
“What the Nicaraguan community wants is, free, fair, transparent and just elections. They want to get rid of Daniel Ortega. They want to do it through the ballot box,” said Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.
Massive, anti-government protests are a near daily occurrence in Nicaragua as tens of thousands have turned out demanding President Daniel Ortega resign.
The deadly clashes between protesters and police began more than three months ago and an estimated nearly 450 people have been killed. Hundreds more have been jailed or tortured.
“What we’re seeing now for the first time in 30 years since the last war are people are being disappeared. People are being disappeared off the face of their earth. For the first time people are scared to leave their house after 6 p.m.,” said activist Federico Cuadra.
Representatives Ros-Lehtinen and Diaz-Balart say with the unrest, they want the Trump administration to reconsider its decision to terminate TPS, temporary protected status, in January for Nicaraguans living legally in the U.S.
“You cannot eliminate TPS for those individuals while we see what is going on in Nicaragua. We cannot send people to Nicaragua when we see people are being murdered in the streets. It is not acceptable,” said Rep. Diaz-Balart.
Lawmakers are also trying to get the U.S. to impose sanctions on regime officials.
“We passed the Nica Act in the House of Representatives not once but twice. This is going to deny international funds to Daniel Ortega, funds that he uses not to help the people but to maintain himself in power,” said Ros-Lehtinen.
According to some of the statistics shared during the meeting, nearly 2,900 people have been injured since the political unrest began and more than 700 have gone missing.