Taiwan loans Nicaragua US$100 million despite deteriorating human rights

The loan was accepted by the Nicaraguan congress Tuesday

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Protesters flood the streets of Managua, Nicaragua, July 2018

Protesters flood the streets of Managua, Nicaragua, July 2018 (By Associated Press)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan has supplied the Nicaraguan government with a US$100 million dollar loan, a move that experts say could prop up President Daniel Ortega’s crumbling regime.

The loan was accepted by Nicaragua’s congress on Tuesday, Reuters reports, offering the authoritarian government a lifeline as it faces increased isolation from both the public it serves and the international diplomatic community.

The 20-year loan demonstrates that Taiwan, unlike many of its democratic contemporaries, is still willing to support Ortega and his administration, despite its brutal crackdown that has led to the death of over 320 people.

The funds, approved by Nicaragua’s ruling Sandinista party, will be used to address the state’s 2019 budget priorities, reports Reuters. The organization contacted the Taiwan embassy in Nicaragua for comment but authorities refused to issue an immediate response.

Protests erupted in Nicaragua in April 2018 due to public dissatisfaction with social security reforms. Demonstrations over the past few years have always been met with violence from the state, but last year, the government deployed police officers to kill unarmed protestors in what has been described as the greatest streak of violence the country has witnessed since the Nicaraguan Revolution.

Both states and intergovernmental bodies have expressed concern over the situation.

The U.S. has enacted its Magnitsky Act to place sanctions on a number of high-profile Nicaraguan politicians close to President Ortega. The Netherlands and Luxembourg suspended aid funding as a result of the state’s oppressive actions.

The European Parliament issued a strongly-worded warning to the Nicaraguan government suggesting severe sanctions are to follow if its 500 political prisoners are not released. The United Nations also raised the alarm on the state effectively expelling all functioning, independent human rights bodies from the country.

Taiwan’s support for Nicaragua, one of its remaining 16 diplomatic allies, has continued despite deteriorating democratic conditions. The government supplied the National Nicaraguan Police with an aid package of US$3 million dollars in December.

Furthermore, no leading politician in Taiwan has yet criticized Ortega’s crackdown. The country, on the contrary, has only been lauded for supporting Taiwan’s participation in international politics and had its envoys warmly greeted during official diplomatic visits.

Nicaragua still remains a valuable asset to Taiwan, as one of few countries that have not heeded to Chinese bribery and switched diplomatic recognition to China.