US slaps visa restrictions on Nicaraguan lawmakers, prosecutors, judges
The Biden administration on Monday announced visa restrictions on 100 members of Nicaragua’s political and judicial elite in a wide-ranging measure meant to crack down on government corruption and human rights abuses.
The visa restrictions target individuals in the Nicaraguan National Assembly and judicial system, such as prosecutors and judges, as well as some of their family members, according to the State Department. Any U.S. visas held by those individuals are now revoked.
The Biden administration did not name the individuals and their family members but said that they are believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, the arrests of 26 political opponents and pro-democracy actors, including six presidential contenders, student activists, private sector leaders and other political actors.
The move comes amid growing pressure for President Biden to confront Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega over the jailing of politicians, journalists and activists.
“These visa revocations demonstrate that the United States will promote accountability not only for regime leaders but also for officials who enable the regime’s assaults on democracy and human rights,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.
“The United States will continue to use the diplomatic and economic tools at our disposal to push for the release of political prisoners and to support Nicaraguans’ calls for greater freedom, accountability, and free and fair elections,” he said.
The administration also characterized the “Ortega-Murillo regime” — the joint ruling by Ortega and his wife, Rosario Murillo — as undermining democracy and violating human rights by seeking to “restrict and criminalize speech, dissent, and political participation.”
Biden has said his administration is focused on identifying and punishing government corruption around the world, through actions like visa restrictions that bar entry into the United States.
Last month, the administration imposed sanctions on Ortega’s family members and political allies, including his daughter Camila Ortega Murillo, who serves as an adviser; the president of the Central Bank of Nicaragua; a key military general; and top lawmakers.
State Department spokesperson Ned Price has called President Ortega’s actions “a campaign of terror” and said the Nicaraguan leader “is becoming an international pariah.”
The latest move by the administration follows calls from both Democratic and Republican lawmakers to get tough with Nicaragua, saying Biden should reconsider Nicaragua’s participation in the Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement and to investigate assets and holdings of the Nicaraguan armed forces in the United States.
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