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U.S. sanctions daughter of Nicaragua’s president after arrests of opposition members

A man, right, in a blue jacket and cap gestures as he holds a microphone, next to a woman who is seated
Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega speaks next to Rosario Murillo, the nation’s first lady and vice president, in March 2019.
(Alfredo Zuniga / Associated Press)

The U.S. Treasury Department slapped sanctions on the daughter of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and a top army official Wednesday, a day after the arrests of two more potential opposition candidates for the presidency.

The U.S. said the sanctions are intended to force the Ortega government to return to democratic procedures.

Ortega’s daughter, Camila Ortega Murillo, became the 31st official or relative in the Ortega administration to have their U.S. assets blocked since 2017. The sanctions also prohibit U.S. citizens from dealing with them.

Also sanctioned Wednesday were the leader of Ortega’s Sandinista party in Congress, the head of the country’s central bank and a high-ranking army general.

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Ortega on Tuesday arrested two more potential challengers in the Nov. 7 election, bringing to four the number of opposition pre-candidates detained in a week. Ortega is seeking his fourth consecutive term.

U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price on Wednesday called on Ortega to release the political prisoners swept up in “an increasing wave of repression.”

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega has carried out a war on the press, jailing journalists and closing news outlets. In a blow to the storied La Prensa newspaper, he barred delivery of newsprint and ink.

“The regime’s repessive actions, including a number of arrests even last night have sent independent journalists, activists and student leaders into hiding for fear of reprisals,” Price said.

Noting the new sanctions, he said, “There are costs for those who are complicit in the regime’s repression.”

First Lady Rosario Murillo who is also vice president, called the sanctions an attempt by the “imperialist and colonialist” government of the United States to interfere in Nicaragua’s internal affairs. She said the targets of the sanctions had only represented “the dignity and heroism of our people.”

United Nations spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Secretary-General António Guterres called for the release of the political leaders and the restoration of their political rights.

“The secretary-general is very concerned by the recent arrests and detentions, as well as the invalidation of candidacies of opposition leaders in Nicaragua,” Dujarric said. “These developments can seriously undermine the public’s confidence in the democratic process ahead of the November general elections.”


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