No matter what it takes, Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo are determined to secure Ortega’s reelection to a fourth consecutive term as President of Nicaragua. To that end, they are waging a broad campaign of intimidation, harassment and repression against civil society, journalists, critics, and political opponents.
They orchestrated the passage of draconian laws aimed at stifling independent media and on-line criticism; required businesses and organizations who receive funding from abroad to register as foreign agents, thus allowing the government to monitor their finances; and pushed through an amendment to Nicaragua’s constitution that allows life sentences for vaguely defined “crimes motivated by hate for the government.”
The Ortega-Murillo controlled Supreme Electoral Council disqualified the main opposition party from the upcoming election by suspending its legal status. Opposition candidates have been detained, harassed, disqualified from running, accused of crimes such as money laundering and “attacking Nicaraguan society and the rights of the people,” or just arrested without explanation.
Ortega and Murillo’s egregious attacks on what remains of Nicaragua’s democracy were made possible by enablers in the executive, legislative, judicial, and electoral functions of the government.
For their role in enabling Ortega’s attacks the U.S. Department of State has taken steps to impose visa restrictions on 19 Nicaraguan election officials and political party officials.
“For the past three months, President Daniel Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, have intimidated anyone opposed to their efforts to entrench their power in Nicaragua, including through the arrest of dozens of political candidates, journalists, student and business leaders, NGO workers, and human rights advocates, and through the disqualification of any candidate seeking to run against them in the November 7 elections,” said State Department Spokesperson Ned Price in a written statement.
This action follows an earlier action toward imposition of visa restrictions on 150 Nicaraguan judges, prosecutors, and family members of those officials. This visa restriction policy applies to Nicaraguans who, in one way or another, had a hand in undermining democracy or committing human rights abuses, such as suppression of peaceful protests. The policy also applies to the immediate family members of these officials.
“With today’s action,” Spokesperson Price said, “we underscore our commitment to promoting accountability for all those complicit in the Ortega-Murillo government’s assault on democracy. They are not welcome in the United States.”