The United States on Monday slapped sanctions on nine Nicaraguan officials and the Public Ministry of Nicaragua, citing “sham national elections orchestrated by President Daniel Ortega” and his Vice President Rosario Murillo.
“The Ortega regime is using laws and institutions to detain members of the political opposition and deprive Nicaraguans from the right to vote,” said Office of Foreign Assets Control Director Andrea M Gacki in a statement posted on the US Department of the Treasury website. “The United States is sending an unequivocal message to President Ortega, Vice President Murillo, and their inner circle that we stand with the Nicaraguan people in their calls for reform and a return to democracy.”
The Treasury said nearly 40 opposition figures including seven potential presidential candidates were arrested and jailed in the run-up to the November 7 election, which saw Ortega re-elected for a fourth consecutive term.
The Public Ministry of Nicaragua is the federal public prosecutor’s office. The Biden administration accused it of being “responsible for or complicit in” the arrests of opposition politicians who wanted to run for president.
Among the nine officials blacklisted by the US on Monday were Nicaragua’s Vice Minister of Finance and Public Credit, Jose Adrian Chavarria Montenegro; Minister of Energy and Mines Salvador Mansell Castrillo; and Mohamed Farrara Lashtar, Nicaragua’s ambassador to Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
On Friday, the General Assembly of the Organization of American States voted in favour of a resolution declaring that “the elections on November 7 in Nicaragua were not free, fair or transparent and have no democratic legitimacy”. Some 25 members voted in favour of the resolution, with seven states abstaining, one counting as absent, and only one – Nicaragua itself – voting against the resolution.
Also on Friday, US President Joe Biden signed into law a bill calling for more sanctions on Ortega’s government.
Monday’s actions freeze all US assets of those who were blacklisted and prevent Americans from doing business with them.