A bipartisan group of 10 U.S. senators introduced a bill Wednesday threatening sanctions against officials responsible for the violence in Nicaragua.
The bill targets those behind the deaths of anti-government protesters, human rights violations and corruption. It also calls for early elections and a negotiated settlement.
"What started as legitimate peaceful protests has turned into a months-long massacre as Nicaragua's citizens face state-sponsored violence from police and paramilitaries," New Jersey Democrat Bob Menendez of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said Wednesday.
"We can't stay silent as [President] Daniel Ortega and [Vice President and first lady] Rosario Murillo target their own people, as evidenced by the images of students being shot while seeking refuge inside of a church."
Nine other senators, Democrats and Republicans, echoed Menendez's statement.
Meanwhile, the Organization of American States adopted a resolution Wednesday condemning the human rights abuses carried out by the Ortega government.
The resolution passed 21-3 with seven abstentions. It also calls for dialogue and early elections.
Nicaraguan Foreign Minister Denis Moncada called the motion "illegal, illegitimate and unfair."
"We have working institutions ... a constitution. That's why it is not right that this permanent council become a sort of court that no one has authorized ... to pass judgment on Nicaragua," he said.
Moncada, like Ortega, calls the protesters terrorists and coup plotters.
Anti-government protests in Nicaragua erupted in April when Ortega announced changes to the pension system. He soon gave up those plans, but police and pro-government paramilitaries have continued a violent crackdown on demonstrators.
The government says more than 200 people have been killed. Human rights groups say the death toll is much higher.