Hours after the United States and European Union imposed sanctions on several officials in Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega was sworn in on January 10 for a fourth consecutive term, following fraudulent national elections orchestrated by his regime in November 2021. First lady Rosario Murillo was sworn in alongside him for a second term as vice president.
Ortega won the November 7 election after most of his political foes were jailed, prompting widespread condemnation. U.S. President Joe Biden called the election a “pantomime.” Election observers from the EU and the Organization of American States were not allowed to inspect the November election, and journalists were barred from entering Nicaragua.
The sanctions imposed by the U.S. and the EU include officials of the Nicaraguan military, the minister of defense, the Nicaraguan Institute of Telecommunications and Mail (TELCOR, in Spanish), and the state-owned Nicaraguan Mining Company (ENIMINAS, in Spanish). In a press release, the U.S. Treasury Department accused the six designated officials of state acts of violence, disinformation, and targeting of independent media.
“The Ortega-Murillo regime continues its subjugation of democracy through effectuating sham elections, silencing peaceful opposition, and holding hundreds of people as political prisoners,” said Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson. “The United States and our partners are sending a clear message […] that we continue to stand with the Nicaraguan people in their calls for the immediate release of these political prisoners and a return to democracy.”
In the press release, the Treasury Department stated that since April 2018, the Ortega-Murillo regime has cracked down on political opposition and public demonstrations, leading to more than 300 deaths, 2,000 injuries, and the imprisonment of hundreds of political and civil society actors. Additionally, more than 100,000 Nicaraguans have since fled the country.
The U.S. State Department is also taking steps to impose visa restrictions on 116 people it accused of undermining democracy in Nicaragua, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, barring some mayors, prosecutors, and police, prison, and military officials, among others, from entering the United States.