The US has issued sanctions against the daughter of Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega after some of the Central American leader’s political opponents were arrested under a controversial new ‘treason’ law.
The US Treasury Department said in a statement on Wednesday it had blacklisted four people, including Camila Antonia Ortega Murillo, who heads Nicaragua’s Creative Economy Commission.
The president’s daughter is sanctioned for managing “family-run” TV station Canal 13, which “spreads state propaganda,” the Treasury said, accusing Ortega himself of using state funding and tax laws to “squeeze” independent, rival outlets.
The others blacklisted are the President of the Central Bank of Nicaragua Leonardo Ovidio Reyes Ramirez, lawmaker Edwin Ramon Castro Rivera, and army brigadier-general Julio Modesto Rodriguez Balladares, who also heads the country’s Military Social Welfare Institute.
“President Ortega’s actions are harming Nicaraguans and driving the country deeper into tyranny,” the Director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control Andrea Gacki said in a statement.
“It’s clear the Ortega regime intends to continue its suppression of the Nicaraguan people,” she added.
The sanctions freeze any US-held assets of those listed in the Treasury notice.
Three of Ortega’s potential opponents in the November 7 elections have been detained in the last week – although the Treasury did not refer to the arrests explicitly.
Felix Maradiaga’s campaign announced on Tuesday he had been arrested and that he had admitted during questioning he had called for sanctions against Nicaraguan government officials during a trip to the US.
His detention came after that of Cristiana Chamorro and Arturo Cruz Sequeira, the former ambassador to the US, who was held under the new law passed in December aimed at traitors to the state.
The legislation bans candidates standing for election for a range of infractions, including if they “finance a coup…encourage foreign interference…champion the imposition of sanctions against Nicaragua or its citizens.”
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