Less than a week after the United States announced more pressure against the Daniel Ortega regime at the Summit of the Americas, the State Department canceled this Monday 93 visas for Sandinista officials “who have undermined democracy after the illegitimate re-election of Daniel Ortega in November 2021″. Among those affected are judges, prosecutors, members of the National Assembly and officials from the Ministry of the Interior, key instances in the repressive machinery in Nicaragua.
Eleven months ago, the United States had already applied a similar measure against another hundred officials. The Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, remarked that “the United States stands firm against the human rights abuses of the Ortega and Murillo regime and the repression and contempt for the Nicaraguan people.”
Along the same lines as the European Parliament, which four days ago proposed sanctioning Sandinista judges, the State Department insisted on the complicity of the judiciary in convicting opponents.
“Regime-aligned judges and prosecutors share complicity in the Ortega and Murillo regime’s efforts to undermine democracy through their participation in the trials and convictions of opposition leaders, human rights defenders, industry leaders private and student advocates,” says the statement issued by the State Department. “Members of the National Assembly and officials of the Ministry of the Interior allowed the Ortega and Murillo regime to tighten its authoritarian control over Nicaraguan citizens and institutions by using repressive laws to strip more than 400 NGOs and a dozen universities of their power. legal status”.
During the Summit of the Americas held last week in Los Angeles, and to which Ortega was not invited by Washington, the main person in charge of the State Department for Latin America, Brian Nichols, stated that they were preparing a new round of sanctions against the regime. “We expect profound changes in the way he acts and, if not, we are going to take measures to express our disagreement with the political pressure that exists in Nicaragua at this time,” Nichols said of Ortega.
The last round of US sanctions was on January 10, after Ortega and his wife, Rosario Murillo, proclaimed themselves for a new government term, after forging general elections without competition. On that occasion, the Treasury Department sanctioned six regime operators: Defense Minister Rosa Adelina Barahona de Rivas; the chief of the general staff of the Nicaraguan Army, Bayardo Ramón Rodríguez Ruíz; and Brigadier General and head of the Department of Personnel and Staff of the Nicaraguan Army and member of the Board of Directors of the Military Institute of Social Welfare (IPSM), Bayardo De Jesús Pulido Ortiz.
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In the statement announcing the cancellation of visas, the State Department points out that the regime “holds more than 180 political prisoners, and many of them suffer from a lack of adequate food, proper medical care, and even sunlight. A political prisoner has died, and others remain in solitary confinement.”
Hours after learning about the cancellation of visas, the political prisoners –through their relatives– announced that they will start a hunger strike “to demand better conditions and to allow the entry of visits by minors.” Most of the political prisoners served a year in prison this June, when Ortega launched a repressive escalation that annulled the electoral competition.
“Political prisoners held under house arrest are also abused and cannot choose their own health care providers or receive visitors. The regime’s corrupt judicial and security systems arrested and prosecuted these civic leaders and human rights defenders for telling the truth, practicing courageous journalism, defending their communities through the work of NGOs, and publicly advocating for alternatives to the regime. repressive, activities that should be allowed by the Nicaraguan Constitution itself or by any democratic political system,” the State Department claims.
Dialogue attempt fails
Last May, the newspaper New York Times revealed that one of the sons of the presidential couple, Laureano Ortega Murillo, tried to approach Washington to “relieve sanctions” against the family environment. However, by demanding the release of political prisoners, the Ortega government backed down on the rapprochement. The relationship broke down completely, according to sources cited by the New York newspaper.
In his last public appearance on May 27, at an Alba summit that tried to counterbalance the Summit of the Americas, Ortega attacked the United States and the European Union. The president made clear his rapprochement with Russia and China.
“We have been receiving messages in Washington through the ambassador to communicate that we do what they say or tougher sanctions will come for Nicaragua and that we tell them, we cannot talk in those conditions because we are not one of those who sell out or give up. ever,” Ortega said.
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