The move comes after President Daniel Ortega won a dubious consecutive fourth term in November.
The United States on Monday imposed a new round of sanctions on Nicaraguan officials, including the Secretary of Defense, on the day President Daniel Ortega was consequently sworn in highly dubious elections.
Monday’s action, the latest sanctions against Nicaragua that the U.S. has coordinated with allies, aims to increase pressure on Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo.
The U.S. Treasury Department said in a statement that it had imposed sanctions on six Nicaraguan officials over allegations of acts of violence, disinformation and targeting of independent media.
“In cooperation with democracies in the international community, the United States will continue to proclaim the ongoing abuses of the Ortega-Murillo regime and will deploy diplomatic and economic instruments to support the restoration of democracy and respect for human rights in Nicaragua,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.
New sanctions and visa restrictions target those who are complicit in the Ortega-Murillo regime’s repression, including politically motivated arrests and attempts to stifle independent media. We stand with the Nicaraguan people.
– Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) 10 January 2022
The action comes after Nicaragua’s presidential election on November 7 provoked international condemnation. In the months leading up to the vote, Ortega, a former Marxist guerrilla, detained opponents and challengers and criminalized discord – for a fourth consecutive term in the office.
Election observers from the European Union and the Organization of American States were not allowed to investigate the process, and journalists were banned from entering Nicaragua.
The US Treasury action targeted the Secretary of Defense as well as military officials, the telecommunications and postal services company and the state-owned Nicaraguan Mining Company.
The US State Department also said it was taking steps to impose visa restrictions on 116 people accused of undermining democracy in Nicaragua, and some mayors, prosecutors and police, prison and military officials, among others others, prohibited from entering the United States.
The EU also issued a travel ban on Monday, imposing asset freezes on family members of Ortega and Murillo, including a daughter and son, as well as the police, the Supreme Electoral Council and the telecommunications and postal services company.
“Those targeted are responsible for serious human rights violations, including the suppression of civil society, the support of fraudulent presidential and parliamentary elections, and the undermining of democracy and the rule of law,” the EU said in a statement.
On Sunday, members of the country’s new congress took office. Of 90 legislators sworn in, 75 belong to Ortega’s Sandinista party and the other 15 are from small parties that are expected to cooperate with the regime.
The legislators elected Gustavo Porras, a longtime Sandinista and congressman, as leader of the one-chamber legislature. The members of Congress were also elected in the November 7 election.