The United States recently imposed visa restrictions that will be applied to Nicaraguan police and other officials linked to violence that has left more than 140 people dead.
The Nicaraguan government violently crushed peaceful Mother’s Day marches in Managua and other cities on May 30, including assaults on mothers mourning their children killed since protests began April 18.
In addition, journalists have been beaten and local TV and radio stations attacked. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Nicaraguan authorities have also detained some six human rights defenders. Moreover, there have been reports of death threats, acts of violence and intimidation against journalists, students, human rights activists, and members of the Catholic Church, among others.
State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert condemned the “political violence by police and pro-government thugs against the people of Nicaragua, particularly university students,” saying it “shows a blatant disregard for human rights and is unacceptable.”
As a consequence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo decided to impose U.S. visa restrictions on individuals responsible for human rights abuses or undermining democracy in Nicaragua. These restrictions will bar their entry into the United States.
Affected individuals include National Police officials, municipal government officials, and a Ministry of Health official. Visa restrictions are aimed specifically at those directing or overseeing violence against Nicaraguans exercising their rights of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression.
These officials, said Ms. Nauert, “have operated with impunity across the country, including in Managua, León, Estelí, and Matagalpa. In certain circumstances, family members of those individuals will also be subject to visa restrictions.”
The U.S. will not publicly identify these individuals due to U.S. visa confidentiality laws, but is nevertheless sending a clear message that human rights abusers and those who undermine democracy are not welcome in the United States.
Ms. Nauert stressed that these visa restrictions are specific to certain officials and not directed at the Nicaraguan people. “We will continue to monitor the situation and take additional steps as necessary,” she said. The United States continues to call for an end to violence and supports peaceful negotiations to end this crisis.