Invoking the Monroe Doctrine

The Nicaraguan nationals living in the United States could care less about the Nicaraguan Investment Conditionality Act (NICA), as a matter of fact, one only needs to walk the streets of Miami, San Francisco or New York and ask any Nicaraguan what they know about it, we would not like the answer. Only a handful of “old-timers” like the Cuban’s old-timers would say they are aware of it because they are probably the ones who encouraged the legislation.

If Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega has managed to govern that country off and on since 1979, what makes us think anything would change with this legislation? The Nicaraguan living in the United States travels to that country regularly for vacations; investing and retiring to Nicaragua by large numbers. Yes, Nicaragua is a socialist country, but the kind of communist who likes the green, like China or Russia. Now, for the past 15 years or so, the United States government gave a blind eye to what was going on down there, especially during the Iraq War.

While Bush 43 and the GOP in Congress concentrated all their foreign efforts towards Iraq and Afghanistan, Daniel Ortega ensured that a new generation of Nicaraguans elected him to power; he ensured his name became a household name. If a minority here in the United States with the support of the Republican Party were able to elect Donald Trump as President, why then won’t we recognize Ortega was able to do just the same?

It’s has been too long for any change in Nicaragua. If legislation like NICA could not work for nations like Cuba which as an island is isolated from the remaining of the continent, what makes us think it will work with Nicaragua when that country is on the mainland? Instead, the United States should support investments of former Nicaraguan nationals who are now naturalized American citizens as most of them are contemplating returning to that country as retirees. During the “blind-eye” period I referred above, Nicaragua reached out to other partners, like Russia and China, for investments just as the United States continues to trade with those countries, yes they are our enemies, but we trade with them nonetheless.

Our country was absent and neglected Nicaragua these last 15–20 years, yet today we see in Nicaragua progress as none before. It is quite unfortunate we, the United States, are not in the forefront of the new Nicaragua. While its system of government remains socialist, its progress as nation serves as an example that should any democratic country hesitates to invest in Nicaragua it misses out on an opportunity to be part of the change, to help Nicaraguans prosper, democratize while investing in a society with trade and stipulations of high return. A perfect example is found in renewable energy: there is no secret Nicaragua is leading in this sector in Latin America, and other countries in the hemisphere are looking up to it for leadership in this fairly new industry.

The United States always has intervened in the affairs of Latin American nations. But it only does it after a period where its absenteeism and neglected foreign policy fails and gives away to other countries to partner with the likes of Nicaragua which is forced to seek partnerships somewhere else. So who’s to blame?

The Monroe Doctrine may have worked in the 19th or even 20th centuries when we were the power house on earth, and when most countries relied on us to progress. President Donald Trump says “America First” and this type of legislation is written to ensure the Monroe Doctrine is invoked to go hand in hand with Mr. Trump idea of the new the United States or is it the old?

The Nicaraguan Investment Conditionality Act (NICA) of 2017 (H.R.1918 and S.972) is a perfect example of a 21st Century Monroe Doctrine but won’t work; it is doomed to fail.

Instead of isolation policies, we must find ways to partner with Nicaragua as we found ways to partner with giants communist China and Russia. If we can work with them, why can we not with Nicaragua? Let’s keep in mind, Nicaragua is in our backyard so let’s play the game; we just need a better strategy on how to win.

About: Al Moncada was a lifelong Republican. He is the former Chairman of Republican National Hispanic Assembly in Los Angeles and a former CA Republican Delegate. He has served as Hispanic Advisor for several campaigns in recent years including CA Lungren for Governor, Bush/Cheney 2000, and Jeb Bush 2016. He has written many articles on immigration reform, and he has called for the Republican Party to be inclusive, not divisive.