Trump sanctions top Nicaraguan officials

Trump sanctions top Nicaraguan officials
© Getty

The Trump administration on Wednesday announced new sanctions against the vice president of Nicaragua and a top national security adviser to President Daniel Ortega.

The sanctions were imposed through an executive order signed by President TrumpDonald John TrumpWashington Post calls on Trump, Dems to make a deal on immigration Protecting our judiciary must be a priority in the 116th Congress Giuliani: Trump Tower Moscow talks went 'as far as October, November' 2016 MORE Tuesday and follow similar escalations against officials from Cuba and Venezuela.

National security adviser John Bolton labeled the three Latin American countries the "troika of tyranny" in a speech earlier this month and warned of increasing sanctions against their government officials.

ADVERTISEMENT

A senior administration official called Vice President Rosario Maria Murillo de Ortega, who is also the first lady, "the de facto co-president of Nicaragua since 2007."

Nestor Moncada Lau, the other official targeted by sanctions, is known as Ortega's right-hand man. Administration officials said Moncada was directly involved in covering up sexual misconduct with a minor committed by the Nicaraguan president.

Both Murillo and Moncada have a long rap sheet of corruption and human rights violations, according to a statement by the Treasury Department, including acts of violent intimidation against political opponents.

Under the sanctions, all property owned by Murillo or Moncada under U.S. jurisdiction will be blocked and U.S. persons will be prohibited from conducting business with the two Nicaraguan officials.

“This Administration is committed to holding the Ortega regime accountable for the violent protests and widespread corruption that have led to the deaths of hundreds of innocent Nicaraguans and destroyed their economy,” said Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinOn The Money: Trump teases 'major announcement' Saturday on shutdown | Fight with Dems intensifies | Pelosi accuses Trump of leaking trip to Afghanistan | Mnuchin refuses to testify on shutdown impacts The case for Russia sanctions Treasury issues final rules on key part of Trump's tax law MORE in a statement. “Treasury is intent on ensuring that Ortega Regime insiders are not able to access the U.S. financial system to profit at the expense of the Nicaraguan people.”

Ortega's government has been accused of suppressing dissent with violence. More than 400 people have been killed for protesting the regime since April, according to the Nicaraguan Association for Human Rights.

A senior administration official said the sanctions are a "first step" and a message to Ortega and his allies to "find an exit strategy" and call for free and fair elections.

The impact will be felt by Murillo and Moncada, according to senior administration officials, particularly as Nicaragua's economy is dollarized.

Officials refused to comment on the dollar amount of assets that could immediately fall under the sanctions.