US, Britain and Canada impose sanctions on Nicaraguan officials as part of coordinated action

WASHINGTON, Nov.15 (Reuters) – The United States, Britain and Canada on Monday imposed sanctions on Nicaraguan officials in a concerted response to an election many countries have denounced as rigged in favor of President Daniel Ortega .

The Biden administration imposed punitive measures on nine Nicaraguans, while the UK targeted eight, including Vice President Rosario Murillo, Ortega’s wife, seen as a middleman who reigns alongside the former leader of the Marxist guerrilla.

Canada has imposed sanctions on 11 Nicaraguan officials.

U.S. sanctions, which included the Energy Minister, Deputy Finance Minister and an entire government ministry, followed Ortega’s re-election for a fourth consecutive term on November 7 after jailing political rivals and cracked down on critical media. Read more

President Joe Biden had accused Ortega of staging a “pantomime” election in the Central American nation, and US officials pledged to work with their allies to increase the pressure.

“The United States sends an unequivocal message to President Ortega, Vice President Murillo and their families: we support the Nicaraguan people in their calls for reforms and a return to democracy,” said Andrea Gacki, director from the Foreign Office of the US Treasury. Assets Control, said in a statement.

The Nicaraguan government did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Ortega ridiculed his American critics as “Yankee imperialists” and accused them of trying to undermine Nicaragua’s electoral process. Cuba, Venezuela and Russia have offered their support to Ortega.

A senior State Department official told Reuters last week that a sanctions announcement would be the first in a series of measures the US government “will step up over time.” Read more

Previous sanctions imposed by Biden and his predecessor, Donald Trump, have failed to deter Ortega, and many analysts wonder if new measures will have much of an impact.

The Organization of American States (OAS) on Friday passed a resolution saying the Nicaraguan elections lacked “democratic legitimacy.” Twenty-five nations voted in favor and seven abstained, including Mexico, Honduras and Bolivia.

The British Foreign Office said sanctions had been imposed on Murillo “for his involvement in the state-backed repression of protests, the discrediting of independent journalists and the exclusion of opposition candidates from the elections.”

Murillo was hit by US sanctions in 2018.


Among those targeted by the US sanctions were Salvador Mansell Castrillo, Minister of Energy and Mines; Jose Adrian Chavarria Montenegro, Deputy Minister of Finance; an ambassador and several mayors and energy officials.

Nicaragua’s public prosecutor’s office, the prosecutor’s office, has been named for “unjustly arresting and investigating presidential candidates and preventing them from standing for election,” the Treasury said.

Treasury sanctions call for a freeze on US assets and prohibit Americans from doing business with them.

British sanctions also covered Nicaragua’s attorney general and the president of the Supreme Court of Justice, as well as the president of the National Assembly, the foreign ministry said.

UK sanctions result in asset freezes and UK travel bans. The Canadian measures prohibit any transaction by Canadians with targeted individuals or activity “relating to any of those listed persons’ property or providing them with financial or related services.”

Reporting and writing by Matt Spetalnick; Additional reporting by Ismail Shakil in Bangalore; Editing by Rosalba O’Brien and Peter Cooney

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