Corruption and repression are hallmarks of the regime of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega. Ortega and his circle continue to undermine efforts to return Nicaragua to democratic rule and have enabled the uncontrolled spread of COVID-19.
In recent remarks to the Organization of American States Permanent Council, U.S. Ambassador Carlos Trujillo said that “Nicaraguans are facing a new threat in the form of COVID-19 and the lack of a responsible government response which has almost certainly caused tragic and unnecessary loss of life. This is a government that cares nothing for its people, a government that cares only to remain in power indefinitely.”
At the same time, noted Ambassador Trujillo, the Ortega government continues to silence “independent journalism and civil society that seek to tell the truth” and “fire health care workers who advocate stronger measures to protect against the pandemic.”
In response to the corrupt dealings of the Ortega regime, the United States announced additional sanctions July 17 on Juan Carlos Ortega Murillo, Jose Jorge Mojica Mejia, Difuso Comunicaciones S.A., and Mundo Digital S.A.
These actions, pursuant to Executive Order 13851, freeze the U.S. assets of the two designees and two entities and prohibit U.S. persons from conducting transactions with them.
These individuals and entities have misappropriated public funds and expropriated private assets for personal gain or political purposes and engaged in corruption related to government contracts or bribery. Ortega Murillo, the son of President Daniel Ortega and Vice President and First Lady Rosario Murillo, manages media company Difuso Comunicaciones S.A., which he has used to stifle independent voices, spread regime propaganda, and defend the Ortegas’ violence and repression. Mojica and Mundo Digital S.A. have long benefitted from corrupt arrangements with the regime, both to enrich themselves and enable regime associates to avoid sanctions.
The United States, said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a written statement, “will continue to take the necessary steps to support the Nicaraguan people and pressure the Ortega regime to stop repressing the Nicaraguan people, guarantee basic civil liberties, and allow the conditions for free and fair elections to work toward the restoration of democracy in Nicaragua.”