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US tightens sanctions against Nicaragua, imposes pressure on gold sector

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BOGOTA, COLOMBIA -U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken listens during a news conference with Colombian President Gustavo Petro (not seen) following talks on Blinken's first official visit to South America at Casa de Narino Palace in Bogota, Colombia on October 03, 2022. (Juancho Torres - Anadolu Agency)
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Oct 25, 2022 - 02:02 AM

BOGOTA, Colombia (AA) – The US announced Monday new economic sanctions on the Nicaraguan mining industry for “financing” the government of President Daniel Ortega.

The restrictive measures apply to a number of individuals that work “in the gold sector of the Nicaraguan economy,” US Treasury Department said in a statement.

The objective of the sanctions is to prevent the government of Ortega and his wife and vice-president Rosario Murillo from being able to “use the gold profits to oppress the Nicaraguan people.”

Also, the US State Department imposed travel restrictions against more than 500 individuals over the country’s poor human rights record.

“Today, we are announcing steps to impose visa restrictions on over 500 Nicaraguan individuals and their family members,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement. “These individuals include members of Nicaraguan security services, such as the Nicaraguan National Police, penitentiary officials, judges, prosecutors, higher education officials and non-government actors who enable regime repression and corruption as well as their family members.”

“No member of the Nicaraguan government nor anyone who facilitates the Ortega-Murillo regime’s abuses should believe they can travel freely to the United States,” the statement said and threatened to bar new US investments in the country.

Washington also targeted Reinaldo Gregorio Lenin Cerna, part of Ortega’s inner circle and former head of state security. The US accuses him of murder, violence and torture in the 1970s and 1980s.

The Biden administration has imposed a wave of sanctions against Nicaragua in recent months, including US visa restrictions on government officials.

The Central American nation has been undergoing a political and social crisis since April 2018 exacerbated by a presidential election that the international community has denounced as neither free nor fair.

Nearly 40 of Ortega’s opponents were arrested by government security forces months before the country’s presidential election that took place in 2021. The Catholic Church has also received more than 200 aggressions between April 2018 and May 2022 in Nicaragua, according to a report by the NGO Observatorio Pro Transparencia y Anticorrupcion.

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