In a coordinated action, the United States and the United Kingdom imposed sanctions Monday on several high-ranking Nicaraguan officials in response to that nation’s November 7 presidential election, widely regarded as a sham election.
The U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) issued an announcement that it was imposing sanctions on the Public Ministry of Nicaragua, their public prosecutor’s office, as well as on nine officials it claims were involved in the repression of human rights and fundamental freedoms. The Public Ministry is accused of directly or indirectly engaging in policies that undermined democratic processes and institutions in Nicaragua. The individuals targeted by the sanctions are all long-time supporters of President Daniel Ortega’s regime, some of whom are also accused of ordering violent actions to quell protestors.
At the same time, the U.K. announced sanctions against eight other Nicaraguan officials, including against vice-president and first lady Rosario Murillo. Murillo is accused of being involved in the repression of demonstrations, the discrediting of independent journalists, and the exclusion of opposition candidates from the recent election. As well as freezing the assets of these individuals, the sanctions include a ban on travel to the U.K.
The joint sanctions follow President Biden signing the RENACER Act last week, which calls for increased sanctions against Ortega, as well as Friday’s statement from the Organization of American States condemning Ortega’s presidential victory. The OAS resolution could lead to further sanctions against the Ortega regime.
OFAC director Andrea Gacki accused the Nicaraguan government of using its laws and institutions to detain members of the political opposition and deny the people their right to vote. The United States, she said, “stand[s] with the Nicaraguan people in their calls for reform and a return to democracy.” Wendy Morton, the U.K.’s Minister for Europe and the Americas, called the recent election “rigged” and said that “these sanctions will ensure those responsible for attacks on democracy in Nicaragua face a real cost for their actions.”