Treasury sanctions top Nicaraguan officials

Treasury sanctions top Nicaraguan officials
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The Department of the Treasury announced sanctions Friday on two top Nicaraguan officials: the head of the country's army and its finance minister.

The sanctions were ordered by the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) against Nicaraguan Army Commander-in-Chief Julio Cesar Avilés Castillo and Minister of Finance and Public Credit Iván Adolfo Acosta Montalván.

All U.S. assets owned by Avilés and Acosta will be blocked, as will any business dealings between the officials and U.S. entities, and U.S. people will be barred from doing business with the two Nicaraguans.

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The United States has previously sanctioned members of President Daniel Ortega's administration, which in 2018 ordered a bloody crackdown on dissenters.

Avilés was sanctioned directly for his role in that crackdown, as he refused to order paramilitary forces to disband when they attacked protesters.

In 2018, Nicaraguan forces were directly responsible for the deaths of 324 protesters, according to Human Rights Watch.

The dissent movement and the government's bloody reaction have continued to roil Nicaragua since.

According to OFAC, Acosta used his position as finance minister in March 2019 to personally threaten banks not to participate in protests demanding the liberation of political prisoners.

Acosta and Avilés join Vice President Rosario Murillo — also Ortega's wife — and Nestor Moncada Lau on the U.S. government's sanctions list.

Murillo and Moncada, known as Ortega's right-hand man, were sanctioned in 2018 for their role in human rights violations.