Treasury sanctions Nicaraguan officials ahead of Ortega-Murillo inauguration

The Treasury Department on Monday announced sanctions for six officials in Nicaragua as the country prepares for the inauguration of President Daniel Ortega and Vice President Rosario Murillo.

The Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control along with the European Union sanctioned officials in the country's military as well as the Nicaraguan minister of defense, the Nicaraguan Institute of Telecommunications and Mail, and the state-owned Nicaraguan Mining Company, the department said in a press release.

“The Ortega-Murillo regime continues its subjugation of democracy through effectuating sham elections, silencing peaceful opposition, and holding hundreds of people as political prisoners,” Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian Nelson said in a statement.

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Nelson also said that the move was intended to send "a clear message to President Ortega, Vice President Murillo, and their inner circle 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."

Secretary of State Antony BlinkenAntony BlinkenRussia: Nothing less than NATO expansion ban is acceptable US providing Ukraine with additional 0M in military aid amid tensions with Russia Blinken: Russian attack on Ukraine could be launched with 'very short notice' MORE added that the U.S. would impose visa restrictions on 116 people undermining democracy in Nicaragua, "including mayors, prosecutors, university administrators, as well as police, prison, and military officials."

"In concert with democracies in the international community, the United States will continue to call out the Ortega-Murillo regime’s ongoing abuses and will deploy diplomatic and economic tools to support the restoration of democracy and respect for human rights in Nicaragua," Blinken's statement said. 

President BidenJoe BidenBiden says he didn't 'overpromise' Finland PM pledges 'extremely tough' sanctions should Russia invade Ukraine Russia: Nothing less than NATO expansion ban is acceptable MORE previously imposed travel restrictions on officials involved in the Ortega administration after the November election, which he also slammed as a "sham."

Specifically, Biden banned all "members" of the Ortega government and other elected officials from entering the U.S. after Ortega and his wife, Murillo, won their reelection effort after jailing leading opposition figures and restricting independent media.