EXCLUSIVE U.S. preparing new sanctions in response to Nicaragua's Nov. 7 election -officials


EXCLUSIVE U.S. preparing new sanctions in response to Nicaragua's Nov. 7 election -officials | Reuters

WASHINGTON, Oct 29 (Reuters) - The Biden administration is working with international partners to prepare new sanctions that could be levied in response to Nicaragua’s Nov. 7 election, which Washington has denounced as a sham organized by President Daniel Ortega, U.S. officials say.

The U.S. government has also begun a review of Nicaragua’s participation in a Central America free trade agreement and has already halted support for any “trade capacity building” activities seen as benefiting Ortega’s government, a senior State Department official told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

President Joe Biden’s administration, building on sanctions imposed by his predecessor Donald Trump, has imposed punitive financial measures and U.S. travel bans on dozens of Nicaraguan officials, including Ortega family members, amid a government crackdown ahead of the election.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement last week that Ortega, who is seeking a fourth term, and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, were “preparing a sham election devoid of credibility, by silencing and arresting opponents.”

One U.S. government source said further sanctions were in the works for after the election, and the State Department official also signaled such a move was likely.

The Nicaraguan government and its embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Ortega said in June that sanctions would not deter him and his government was following the law in prosecuting people conspiring against him. He accused Washington in July of trying to undermine the elections and seeking to "again sow terrorism" in Nicaragua, an apparent reference to U.S. financing of right-wing “Contra” fighters in the 1980s.

"We'll continue to use diplomatic and economic tools at our disposal to promote accountability for those who support the Ortega regime’s human rights abuses and attacks on Nicaraguan democracy," the State Department official said.

“We do have sanctions tools. We are working with international partners, as well to work in multilateral fora, in ways that uphold our values, and we'll continue to do so,” the official added.