US Treasury sanctions public ministry of Nicaragua and nine government officials over ‘Sham November elections’

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Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega speaks to supporters (L) and Vice President of Nicaragua, Rosario Murillo

NICARAGUA / USA — US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated the public ministry of Nicaragua (Ministerio Publico de Nicaragua) as well as nine officials of the government of Nicaragua in response to the sham national elections orchestrated by president Daniel Ortega (Ortega) and vice president Rosario Murillo (Murillo).

This action targets those who are repressing Nicaraguans for exercising their human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Between October 2020 and June 2021, the Nicaraguan National Assembly, controlled by Ortega and Murillo, approved six laws that facilitated the government’s repression against the opposition and eliminated its chances in the November 2021 elections. Several officials designated in today’s action were appointed to their government positions by Ortega and are key supporters of the regime and its anti-democratic policies; the officials designated today also include multiple persons implicated in violence against peaceful protestors during Nicaragua’s 2018 demonstrations.

As president Joe Biden stated, president Daniel Ortega and vice president Murillo orchestrated a pantomime election that was neither free nor fair, and most certainly not democratic. The unjust imprisonment of nearly 40 opposition figures since May, including seven potential presidential candidates, and the blocking of political parties from participation rigged the outcome well before election day.

“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.  “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.”

Today’s action, taken pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13851, “Blocking Property of Certain Persons Contributing to the Situation in Nicaragua,” and the Nicaragua Human Rights and Anticorruption Act of 2018 (NHRAA), now known as the Nicaragua Investment Conditionality Act of 2018 (NICA), is intended to highlight the anti-democratic actions that the Ortega regime has undertaken to alter and corrupt the election process in Nicaragua and solidify the power of Ortega, Murillo and their inner circle.

Sanctions implications

As a result of today’s action, all property and interests in property of these persons that are in the United States or in the possession or control of US persons are blocked and must be reported to OFAC. In addition, any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more in the aggregate by one or more of such persons are also blocked.  OFAC’s regulations generally prohibit all dealings by US persons or within (or transiting) the United States that involve any property or interests in property of blocked or designated persons.

The sanctions imposed today are not intended to be permanent but are issued to encourage a positive change of behavior by the identified persons and the authoritarian regime they support. The United States makes clear that the removal of sanctions may be available for individuals and entities designated pursuant to E.O. 13851 and the NHRAA who take concrete and meaningful actions to promote democracy and the rule of law in Nicaragua.

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