By Matt Spetalnick WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States imposed sanctions on nine Nicaraguan officials while Britain targeted Vice President Rosario Murillo, President Daniel Ortega’s wife, in a coordinated response on Monday to an election that many countries have denounced as a sham. The U.S. sanctions, which included the energy minister, vice minister of finance […]
U.S. imposes sanctions on nine Nicaraguans; British measures hit Ortega’s wife
By Matt Spetalnick
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States imposed sanctions on nine Nicaraguan officials while Britain targeted Vice President Rosario Murillo, President Daniel Ortega’s wife, in a coordinated response on Monday to an election that many countries have denounced as a sham.
The U.S. sanctions, which included the energy minister, vice minister of finance and an entire government ministry, followed Ortega’s re-election to a fourth consecutive term on Nov. 7 after jailing political rivals and cracking down on critical media.
U.S. President Joe Biden had accused Ortega, a former Marxist guerrilla leader, of organizing a “pantomime” election in the Central American nation, and U.S. officials have pledged to work with allies to ratchet up the pressure.
“The United States is sending an unequivocal message to President Ortega, Vice President Murillo and their inner circle that we stand with the Nicaraguan people in their calls for reform and a return to democracy,” Andrea Gacki, director of the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, said in a statement.
A senior State Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said last week that a sanctions announcement would be the first in a series of steps the U.S. government will “ramp up over time.”
Previous sanctions imposed by Biden and his predecessor Donald Trump failed to deter Ortega, and many analysts are skeptical whether new measures will have much impact.
The Nicaraguan government did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday’s announcement.
Ortega has derided his U.S. critics as “Yankee imperialists” and accused them of trying to undermine Nicaragua’s electoral process. Cuba, Venezuela and Russia all have offered Ortega their backing.
The Washington-based Organization of American States (OAS) on Friday adopted a resolution saying Nicaragua’s election 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 her involvement in the state-backed repression of demonstrations, the discrediting of independent journalists and the exclusion of opposition candidates from elections.”
Murillo, considered a major powerbroker who rules alongside her husband, was hit by U.S. sanctions in 2018.
Among those sanctioned by the United States on Monday were Salvador Mansell Castrillo, minister of energy and mines; Jose Adrian Chavarria Montenegro, vice minister of finance and public credit; an ambassador, and several mayors and energy officials.
Nicaragua’s Public Ministry, the federal public prosecutor’s office, was designated for having “unjustly arrested and investigated presidential candidates and prevented them from running for office,” Treasury said.
Treasury sanctions call for a freeze on U.S. assets of individuals or entities and prohibit Americans from doing business with them.
The British sanctions also covered Nicaragua’s attorney general, the president of the Supreme Court of Justice, and the president of the National Assembly, the Foreign Office said.
(Reporting by Matt Spetalnick; Editing by Marguerita Choy and Rosalba O’Brien)