Biden-Harris Administration Expands Efforts to Hold Nicaraguan Government Accountable
Today, President Biden is taking further action to demonstrate our commitment to the Nicaraguan people by expanding the tools to hold the Ortega-Murillo regime accountable for its escalating human rights violations, continued dismantling of democratic institutions, attacks on civil society, and increasing security cooperation with Russia. President Biden signed an Executive Order (E.O.) that amends E.O. 13851 (Blocking Property of Certain Persons Contributing to the Situation in Nicaragua) to expand the authorities available to increase targeted pressure on the Ortega-Murillo regime. This will give the Administration additional means to target the regime while allowing the flexibility necessary to continue to support the people of Nicaragua. In the lead up to Nicaragua’s November 2021 sham elections, the Ortega-Murillo regime arbitrarily detained dozens of political opponents and pro-democracy activists. Since then, the limited remaining democratic space in the country has shrunk even further as the Ortega-Murillo regime shuttered over 2,000 non-governmental organizations and subjected political prisoners to extremely harsh conditions. And, the Nicaraguan regime has increased its attacks on faith leaders and closed private universities, robbing Nicaragua’s youth of their future and politicizing education. While the United States and our allies continue to take steps to hold Russia accountable for its war of aggression in Ukraine, the Ortega-Murillo regime has increased its cooperation with Moscow by authorizing the continued presence of Russian military personnel and equipment in the country. The regime was one of only four countries — and the only country in Latin America — to vote with Russia against an October 2022 United Nations General Assembly resolution condemning its attempted illegal annexation of parts of Ukraine. The Biden-Harris Administration is today taking the following actions:
Today’s amended E.O. substantially expands our Nicaragua sanctions program with sectoral sanctions authorities, which expose individuals and entities operating in identified sectors to sanctions. Specifically, the amended E.O. identifies the gold sector of the Nicaraguan economy, which the Ortega-Murillo regime uses to fund its authoritarian and destabilizing activities. The E.O. also allows for the future identification of additional sectors that could become subject to sanctions, if warranted.
The amended E.O. adds new authorities to allow for the imposition of future restrictions on certain trade with Nicaragua to limit the outsized financial benefits of certain trade from flowing to the Ortega-Murillo regime, as warranted. This could potentially include restrictions on both imports into the United States from Nicaragua and exports from the United States to Nicaragua.
The amended E.O. also authorizes certain restrictions on new investment in sectors of the Nicaraguan economy to prevent the United States from contributing to the corrupt regime’s coffers.
Concurrent with this action, the Department of the Treasury is designating a key Nicaraguan entity that is central to the mining sector that directly benefits the Ortega-Murillo regime, as well as an individual linked to major human rights abuses in the country.
To continue supporting the Nicaraguan people and hold those who support the corrupt Nicaraguan Government accountable, the State Department is imposing visa restrictions on more than 500 Nicaraguan individuals, and their family members, who work for the Nicaraguan Government or formulate, implement, or benefit from policies or actions that undermine or injure democratic institutions or impede the return to democracy in the country.
Today’s actions build on recent efforts by the Biden-Harris Administration to support the Nicaraguan people and hold the Ortega-Murillo regime accountable. This includes the designation of Nicaragua’s state mining company, ENIMINAS in June 2022, and the reallocation of the country’s sugar quota by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative in July 2022.