Today, President Biden is taking further action to demonstrate our commitment to the people of Nicaragua by expanding the tools to hold the Ortega-Murillo regime accountable for its escalating human rights abuses, continued dismantling of democratic institutions, attacks on civil society, and increased security cooperation with Russia.
President Biden signed an Executive Order (EO) amending EO 13851 (Freezing Assets of Certain Persons Contributing to the Situation in Nicaragua) to expand the powers available to increase targeted pressure on the Ortega-Murillo regime. This will give the administration additional resources to target the regime while allowing the flexibility necessary to continue to support the Nicaraguan people.
Ahead of Nicaragua’s sham elections in November 2021, the Ortega-Murillo regime has arbitrarily detained dozens of political opponents and pro-democracy activists. Since then, the limited remaining democratic space in the country has shrunk even further as the Ortega-Murilla regime has shut down over 2,000 non-governmental organizations and subjected political prisoners to extremely harsh conditions. And the Nicaraguan regime has stepped up its attacks on religious leaders and closed private universities, robbing Nicaragua’s youth of their future and politicizing education.
As the United States and our allies continue to take steps to hold Russia accountable for its war of aggression in Ukraine, the Ortega-Murilla regime has increased its cooperation with Moscow by authorizing the continued presence of Russian military personnel and equipment in the country. The regime was one of only four countries — and the only country in Latin America — to vote along with Russia against an October 2022 United Nations General Assembly resolution condemning its attempt to illegally annex parts of Ukraine.
The Biden-Harris administration is taking the following actions today:
- Today’s amended EO significantly expands our Nicaragua sanctions program with sectoral sanctions authorities, which sanction individuals and entities operating in identified sectors. Specifically, the amended EO identifies the gold sector of the Nicaraguan economy, which the Ortega-Murillo regime uses to finance its authoritarian and destabilizing activities. The EO also allows for the future identification of additional sectors that could become subject to sanctions, if warranted.
- The amended EO adds new authority to allow future restrictions to be imposed on certain trade with Nicaragua to limit the large financial benefits of certain trade from inflows to the Ortega-Murillo regime, as warranted. This could potentially include restrictions on both imports into the United States from Nicaragua and exports from the United States to Nicaragua.
- The amended EO also authorizes certain restrictions on new investment in sectors of the Nicaraguan economy to prevent the United States from contributing to the coffers of a corrupt regime.
- Along with this action, the Treasury Department is naming a key Nicaraguan entity central to the mining sector that directly benefits the Ortega-Murillo regime, as well as an individual linked to gross human rights abuses in the country.
- To continue to support the people of Nicaragua and to hold accountable those who support the corrupt Nicaraguan government, the State Department is imposing visa restrictions on more than 500 Nicaraguan individuals and their family members who work for the government of Nicaragua or formulate, implement, or benefit from policy or actions that undermine or injure democratic institutions or hinder the return to democracy in the country.
Today’s actions build on recent efforts by the Biden-Harris administration to support the people of Nicaragua and hold the Ortega-Murillo regime accountable. This includes the designation of Nicaragua’s state-owned mining company ENIMINAS in June 2022 and the reallocation of the country’s sugar quota by the Office of the US Trade Representative in July 2022.