November 16, 2021

US, UK, and Canada impose Nicaragua-related sanctions following rigged national election

On November 15, 2021, the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control designated the Public Ministry of Nicaragua (Ministerio Publico de Nicaragua), Nicaragua’s federal public prosecutor’s office, and nine officials in the Nicaraguan government following the country’s rigged national elections on November 7, 2021 that were orchestrated by President Daniel Ortega and Vice President Rosario Murillo. OFAC reports that six laws were passed by the Ortega/Murillo-controlled Nicaraguan National Assembly that enabled the Public Ministry of Nicaragua to unjustly arrest and investigate presidential candidates and prevent them from running for office.  According to OFAC, nearly 40 individuals including civilian and civil society leaders have been arrested and detained by the Public Ministry on groundless charges since May 2021, including seven potential presidential candidates.  The officials that were designated by OFAC were key supporters of the Ortega’s regime, several of which were appointed by Ortega to government positions, included three who were implicated in violence against peaceful protestors during Nicaragua’s 2018 demonstrations.

OFAC designated the Public Ministry of Nicaragua pursuant to Executive Order 13851 and the Nicaragua Human Rights and Anticorruption Act of 2018 (NHRRA), now known as the Nicaragua Investment Conditionality Act of 2018 (NICA), for being responsible for or complicit in actions or policies that undermined democratic processes in Nicaragua.  The nine officials were designated for being officials of the Government of Nicaragua or serving as an official at any time on or after January 10, 2007.

As a result of these designations, all property and interests in property of today’s designees within the United States or within the possession or control of a U.S. person are blocked, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions involving the designated persons.  In addition, transactions with entities that are owned 50 percent or more by one or more blocked persons are also blocked.

On the same day, parallel designations were imposed by the UK and Canada.  The UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office imposed sanctions that include travel bans and asset freezes against 8 senior Nicaraguan officials, including Nicaragua’s Vice President Murillo, pursuant to Nicaragua (Sanctions)(EU Exit) Regulations 2020 and the Global Anti-Corruption Sanctions Regulations 2021.  Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs also announced sanctions imposing asset freezes against 11 additional individuals under the Special Economic Measures (Nicaragua) Regulations in response to the ongoing human rights violations in Nicaragua.  

US Department of Treasury Press Release | UK Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office Press Release | UK Statement on Nicaragua’s Presidential Elections | Government of Canada News Release | Government of Canada – Additional Nicaraguan Sanctions