EU, US slap sanctions on Nicaragua as Ortega begins term

Nicaragua's Supreme Electoral Council for its handling of last year's elections, its chief, its deputy head and a senior official who was acting chief in 2018.

Sanctions were imposed on several regime officials, including officials of the telecommunications regulator, which allegedly ran a social media troll farm to help Daniel Ortega win last year’s elections.
The United States and European Union have broadened pressure on Nicaragua with economic sanctions and travel bans as strongman Daniel Ortega begins his fourth term as president.

Seven regime officials were targeted with sanctions for “undermining democracy” and human rights abuses, a European Council statement said on Monday.

Ortega’s daughter and a son — both working as presidential advisors — were among the individuals on the EU’s list.

“Those targeted are responsible for serious human rights violations, including repression of civil society, supporting the fraudulent presidential and parliamentary elections and undermining democracy and the rule of law,” the statement said.

Others sanctioned “in view of the worsening situation in Nicaragua” were senior officials with the country’s police force and electoral body, it added.

In Washington, the US Treasury placed sanctions on six regime officials, including two generals, the defence minister and officials of the telecommunications regulator which allegedly ran a social media troll farm to help Ortega.

The sanctions came on the inauguration day of Ortega and his wife, vice president Rosario Murillo, after they were declared winners of the November 7 election that was internationally dismissed as rigged and illegitimate.
‘Pantomime’ election

The US State Department also placed travel restrictions on 116 individuals tied to the Ortega regime, including mayors, prosecutors, security and university officials.

The 116 were “complicit in undermining democracy in Nicaragua,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.

Following the election travel restrictions, the US placed visa restrictions on Ortega and Murillo while the European Union did the same for Murillo and one of Ortega’s sons.

President Joe Biden slammed the Nicaraguan presidential election in November as a “sham,” calling it a “pantomime election that was neither free nor fair, and most certainly not democratic.”

Before the November election, Nicaraguan authorities detained nearly 40 opposition figures, including seven would-be presidential challengers, assuring victory for long-time ruler Ortega and his wife.

The State Department said the regime continues to hold 170 political prisoners.

“We are undertaking these economic sanctions and visa restrictions to promote accountability for the Ortega-Murillo regime’s escalating authoritarianism and abuses,” Blinken said in a statement.

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