The United States has imposed sanctions on four members of the Ortega-Murillo regime in Nicaragua, as a wave of repression and intimidation in the country reaches new heights. These four regime insiders include representatives from the national legislature, banking industry, military, and a daughter of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo.
Just months before the November 2021 presidential election, 27 high-profile opposition leaders, including six presidential candidates, have been arrested on apparently trumped-up corruption and national security charges. They include Cristiana Chamorro, Arturo Cruz, Felix Maradiaga, Juan Sebastian Chamorro, Miguel Mora, and Medardo Mairena as well as student leaders, private sector representatives, and other civil society activists. The regime continues to harass independent media and other civil society members who express dissent as well.
In a written statement, Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned the latest actions of the Ortega-Murillo regime and declared that the United States “holds President Ortega and those complicit in these actions responsible for their safety and well-being.”
The U.S. sanctions were imposed in response to the recent wave of repression, as well as to the failure of the regime to implement meaningful electoral reforms called for by the Organization of American States and backed by the UN Human Rights Council.
While this latest campaign of fear and repression is particularly egregious, the Ortega regime’s assault on human rights and democracy is not new. A violent government crackdown on prodemocracy protests in 2018 left at least 325 persons dead; more than 2,000 injured; and hundreds illegally detained, tortured and disappeared.
State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said that “under President Ortega, Nicaragua is becoming an international pariah moving farther away from democracy.” Mr. Price noted that the United States “has additional tools at our disposal to hold members of the regime and those who enable them to account, and we will not hesitate to do so.” On June 15, 26 member states of the Organization of American States supported a resolution calling for President Ortega to take urgent action to restore full respect for human rights and to create the conditions for free and fair elections.
On June 22, 59 governments signed a joint statement at the UN Human Rights Council calling for the immediate release of the prisoners. U.S. diplomatic efforts have included coordinating with the OAS, EU, and other international partners to pressure the Ortega-Murillo regime to relent on its repression against the Nicaraguan people who deserve more than a one-party state.