US announces sanctions on Nicaraguan officials

The United States government announced on Monday that it will sanction the Nicaraguan Public Ministry and nine officials from that country for “the farce” that the recent presidential elections entailed.

The Treasury Department indicated in a statement that the November 7 elections were a “pantomime” that resulted in unfair elections, without freedom and without democracy.

Nicaragua held presidential elections in which President Daniel Ortega was reelected for the third consecutive time. The elections were criticized internationally for the lack of real opposition and the imprisonment of seven presidential hopefuls.

The Office of Foreign Assets Control of the US Department of the Treasury, better known as OFAC, said in the statement that the Public Ministry arrested presidential candidates “unfairly” and prevented them from standing in the elections, “thus undermining democracy in Nicaragua. ”.

The sanctioned officials are Luis Ángel Montenegro Espinoza, José Adrián Chavarría Montenegro, Rodolfo Francisco López Gutiérrez, José Antonio Castaneda Méndez, Mohamed Farrara Lashtar, Salvador Mansell Castrillo, Sadrach Zeledón Rocha, Leonidas Centeno Rivera and Francisco Ramón Valenzuela Blandón.

The sanctions imposed mean that any property or property interests of those sanctioned that are in the United States or in the possession or control of Americans will be blocked and must be reported to the Office of Foreign Assets Control. Any entity that those sanctioned owns, directly or indirectly, will also be blocked, the statement said.

The Canadian government, through Foreign Minister Melanie Joly, also announced sanctions against 11 senior Nicaraguan officials, including Ortega’s economic advisor, former Sandinista commander Bayardo Arce; the president of the Judiciary, Alba Luz Ramos, and Montenegro, who serves as comptroller (accountant).

“The Ortega regime leads Nicaragua down the path of authoritarianism. In response, Canada is imposing additional sanctions. We are using all our diplomatic tools to support the Nicaraguan people and hold this oppressive regime accountable, ”Joly wrote on his Twitter account.

As in the case of the United States, the sanctions include Sandinista mayors Zeledón, Centeno and Valenzuela, accused of committing acts of repression against the civilian population.

The affected persons will not be able to enter Canada and neither will they participate in financial activities or transactions with Canadian persons or entities, as indicated.

The United Kingdom also imposed sanctions against eight other Nicaraguan senior officials, including the vice president of the republic, Rosario Murillo; as well as Luz Ramos, president of the Supreme Court of Justice, and the chief of police, Juan Valle Valle.

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The British Foreign Ministry announced in a statement that its sanctions impose travel bans and freezing of assets for those “responsible for undermining Nicaraguan democratic principles and institutions, committing severe human rights violations and promoting repression against civil society.”

Those sanctioned by the United Kingdom also include Ana Julia Guido Ochoa, Nicaragua’s attorney general, who is the top official of the Public Ministry.

The United States has already sanctioned other Nicaraguan officials earlier this year. The US government declared last week that Nicaragua is no longer a democracy and is now a dictatorship, in the strongest assertion that the government of President Joe Biden has made to date to refer to the Ortega administration.

The General Assembly of the Organization of American States approved a resolution on Friday that declared that the presidential elections in Nicaragua “were not free, fair or transparent and lack democratic legitimacy.”

The resolution asks to instruct the OAS Permanent Council to analyze the situation in the Central American country, make a report before November 30, and then take “appropriate actions.”

In Managua, the reactions did not take long. The president of the National Assembly and Sandinista deputy, Gustavo Porras, called a special legislative session for this Tuesday to discuss what he called “the blatant interference (interference)” of the OAS in Nicaragua.

Porras, sanctioned in 2019 by the United States and now by the United Kingdom, rejected “strongly and emphatically” the resolution approved by the OAS, which he described as “disrespect for the sovereignty of our country.”

“We cannot continue to accept foreign interference on decisions that only correspond to Nicaraguans,” Porras said at a press conference with official media. “The OAS is nothing more than a vile instrument of domination of the Yankee empire” and is “discredited and discredited,” he protested.

The president of the National Assembly also said that he will recommend to President Ortega “that he denounce (declare invalid) the Inter-American Charter of the OAS.”

In his usual midday remarks, Murillo did not refer to the sanctions announced Monday, although he said that the Supreme Electoral Council confirmed the results of the vote that gave them victory and will allow them to start a new government in January.

“We feel blessed, prospered, full of the triumph of peace and good … and defending our sovereignty. We are worthy, sovereign, brave and noble ”, he affirmed.

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