Declaring Nicaragua's violent crackdown on protestors a local issue for South Florida, three Miami Congressional representatives called on the U.S. Senate to pass a bill that would impose sanctions on a country the trio said has become a dictatorship.
Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Carlos Curbelo and Mario Diaz-Balart were joined by City of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez Monday in calling for action at an impromptu press conference at the eMerge Americas technology conference. Curbelo, who was attending the conference, contacted the others and invited them to join him.
"[The violence] affects our friends, our neighbors, our families," Diaz-Balart said. According to the U.S. Census, the county is home to more than 120,000 immigrants from Nicaragua.
Rights groups have reported that dozens died in weekend protests and looting in Managua, a response to changes Nicaragua ruler Daniel Ortega announced to the country's social security system. On Sunday, Ortega withdrew the changes.
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The sanctions bill sponsored by Ros-Lehtinen passed the House last year. It would limit U.S. loans to the country until it passes democratic reforms.