TODAY NICARAGUA – The United States imposed economic sanctions on four Nicaraguan officials close to President Daniel Ortega on Wednesday, June 9, 2021, including his daughter Camila Antonia Ortega Murillo, after a series of arrests of opponents denounced by Washington.
The people were sanctioned for their support for “the Ortega regime, a regime that has undermined democracy, abused the human rights of the civilian population, enacted repressive laws with serious economic consequences and tried to silence the independent media,” said the Treasury Department in a statement.
In addition to Ortega Murillo, daughter of the president and vice president Rosario Murillo and coordinator of the National Commission for Creative Economy, three other close associates of Ortega were sanctioned.
They are Leonardo Ovidio Reyes Ramírez, president of the Central Bank of Nicaragua; Edwin Ramón Castro Rivera, legislator of the National Assembly; and General Julio Modesto Rodríguez Balladares, executive director of the Instituto de Previsión Social Militar (IPSM), the Nicaraguan Army’s public investment fund
The four were blacklisted by the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), with which all property and assets under United States jurisdiction are blocked, and any transaction involving individuals and U.S. entities.
Four opposition leaders aspiring to the November presidential elections in Nicaragua, for which Ortega could run for a fourth term, were detained in recent days. They are: Cristiana Chamorro, Arturo Cruz, Félix Maradiaga and Sebastián Chamorro.
On Tuesday night, so were Violeta Granera, a member of the Blue and White National Unit, as well as José Adán Aguerri, a member of the Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy (ACJD) and former president of the Superior Council of Private Enterprise ( Cosep).
Former Nicaraguan Foreign Minister José Pallais became the seventh opponent to be arrested on Wednesday.
Washington said Tuesday that the arrests confirm that the president is a “dictator,” and called on the international community to “treat him as such.”
For his part, the UN Secretary, Antonio Guterres, demanded Wednesday the release of the opposition presidential candidates.
Guterres “is very concerned about the recent arrests, as well as the invalidation of the candidacies of opposition leaders in Nicaragua,” said his spokesman, Stéphane Dujarric, in his daily press conference.
“These developments can seriously undermine public confidence in the democratic process before the general elections in November,” he added.
Local laws prevent detainees from contesting elections.
In Nicaragua, “a broad consensus is needed (…) on measures to have credible, participatory and inclusive elections in November,” added Guterres’ spokesman.
In addition to the arrest of the candidates, the Nicaraguan electoral court eliminated the opposition Democratic Restoration Party (PRD) and the Conservative Party (PC), the oldest.
Ortega, a former leftist guerrilla who ruled Nicaragua from 1979 to 1990, returned to power in 2007 in democratic elections and then won two successive reelections.
However, he has been accused by the opposition and by non-governmental organizations of leading an authoritarian government and of the brutal repression of demonstrations against his government in 2018 that left more than 320 people dead.