US, EU issue Nicaragua sanctions

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  • Daniel Ortega
    Daniel Ortega
    President of Nicaragua
  • Rosario Murillo
    Nicaraguan poet, revolutionary and Col San Luis Gonzaga's teacher

The United States has imposed sanctions on Nicaraguan officials, including the defence minister, in coordination with the European Union following an election that Brussels and Washington have denounced as rigged in favour of President Daniel Ortega.

Monday's action, the latest sanctions targeting Nicaragua that Washington has coordinated with allies, aims to increase pressure on Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, and marks the inauguration day.

US President Joe Biden in November ripped into Ortega, calling Nicaragua's presidential election a "pantomime" as the former Marxist guerrilla and Cold War adversary of the United States won election for a fourth consecutive term.

In the months leading up to the election, Western and many Latin American nations had expressed deep concern about the fairness of the vote as Ortega detained opponents and business leaders and criminalised dissent.

Election observers from the European Union and the Organization of American States were not allowed to scrutinise the process and journalists were barred from entering Nicaragua.

"In concert with democracies in the international community, the United States will continue to call out the Ortega-Murillo regime's ongoing abuses and will deploy diplomatic and economic tools to support the restoration of democracy and respect for human rights in Nicaragua," US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.

The US Treasury Department said in a separate statement it imposed sanctions on six Nicaraguan officials over accusations of state acts of violence, disinformation and targeting of independent media.

The Treasury action targeted the minister of defence as well as officials of the military, the company overseeing telecommunications and postal services and the state-owned Nicaraguan Mining Company.

The US State Department is also taking steps to impose visa restrictions on 116 people it accused of undermining democracy in Nicaragua, Blinken said, barring some mayors, prosecutors and police, prison and military officials, among others, from entering the United States.

The EU said new travel bans and asset freezes were imposed on family members of Ortega and Murillo, including a daughter and son, as well as police, the Supreme Electoral Council and the company overseeing telecommunications and postal services.

"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 EU said in a statement.

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