Global News

This article first appeared on BBC News on November 17, 2021.

Neither the president of Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega, nor his wife -and vice-president-, Rosario Murillo, will be allowed to enter the United States.

This was established in a statement signed by Joe Biden, in which the U.S. president maintains that the actions of the couple, as well as those of other Nicaraguan officials, “undermine or injure democratic institutions or impede the return to democracy” in the Central American country.

“The repressive and abusive acts of the Ortega government and its supporters compel the United States to act,” the document states.

The measure also affects the spouses, sons, and daughters of the persons described.

The text further details that the measures are taken because of how important it is for the U.S. to “promote democratic processes and institutions in Nicaragua” and “given the suppression of human rights and democracy” in that nation.

The measures come in reaction to the November 7 elections, in which Ortega won a fourth consecutive term in a disputed voting day that included the detention, since May, of nearly 40 politicians, activists, businessmen, and journalists, as well as seven rival pre-candidates of the president.

According to the statement signed by Biden, all members of the Nicaraguan government, including elected officials, mayors, deputy mayors, and political secretaries (of the Sandinista party) who participated in “serious human rights abuses or violations” will not be allowed to enter the U.S. as immigrants or non-immigrants.

Likewise, the measure applies to officials of the security services, military, members of the National Police, and the penitentiary system.

High-level officials of the Judiciary, the Public Prosecutor’s Office, and the Ministry of the Interior, as well as members of ministries, regulatory agencies, and parastatal companies will not be able to enter the United States.

Blocking of resources

Under Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Brian Nichols told Congress on Tuesday that it is necessary to withdraw foreign funding to the Ortega government under the framework of the Renacer Act signed by Biden last week.

“As part of the Renacer Act, we should be looking for ways to prevent Nicaragua from obtaining resources from international financial institutions, funds that would inevitably go to its corrupt government,” Nichols said.

The Renacer Act facilitates the imposition of sanctions on the Ortega government to restrict bank lending and “attack the regime’s corruption.”

With it, the White House has a wide range of possible measures: from new financial sanctions on Nicaraguan officials to trade punishments that would further sink the Central American country’s economy.