One Big Thing: Do you support increased sanctions on Nicaragua’s government?
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On July 12th, The United States imposed visa restrictions on 100 Nicaraguan officials who are accused of being involved in President Daniel Ortega’s crackdown on political opponents. In a statement, the State Department announced that the restrictions would affect members of Nicaragua’s judicial system and assembly members, as well as some of their family members. US visas held by the designated individuals have been revoked but the department did not specify which individuals were targeted.
According to the State Department, the US hopes that these visa restrictions will “promote accountability not only for regime leaders but also officials who enable the regime’s assaults on democracy and human rights”. The restrictions are a direct response to Ortega’s undemocratic crackdown on opposition leaders in the run-up to the November presidential elections. More than 24 student activists, opposition leaders, and presidential hopefuls have been arrested in the past month. Ortega justified the arrest by saying those who were arrested were plotting a coup against him. But many human rights groups have accused the 75-year-old president of increasing authoritarian behavior.
“The gravity and intensification of the Ortega government’s brutal crackdown on critics and members of the opposition in recent weeks requires a redoubling of international pressure,” said José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged the Nicaraguan authorities to uphold the country’s international human rights obligations and release the detained opposition leaders.
Before July 12th, the US had imposed sanctions on President Ortega’s daughter as well as a top army official. These sanctions were meant to force Nicaragua to turn in a democratic direction after the first few waves of arrests. Their effect has clearly been ineffective as the arrests continue to occur.
Recently, President Ortega has defended the recent arrests and criticized the US for interfering in the nation’s affairs. “The Yankee imperialists continue to conspire,” Ortega said. “They think with sanctions they are going to break Nicaragua. Nicaragua has been through a lot worse”.
The Nicaraguan President’s sheer defiance in the face of US pressure begs the question of whether it is time for the United States to look at other avenues for increasing pressure on Ortega's government.
Read more about Daniel Ortega’s rise to power HERE
Check out Nicaragua’s human rights record HERE
Authored by James Robson
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