US Blacklists Four Nicaraguans, Including Ortega’s Daughter

June 9, 2021 Updated: June 9, 2021

WASHINGTON—The United States on Wednesday blacklisted four Nicaraguans, including a daughter of President Daniel Ortega, as Washington warned it would continue to use diplomatic and economic tools against members of the leftist government engaged in repression.

The U.S. State Department called on Ortega to release detained presidential candidates as well as other civil society and opposition leaders arrested over the past week in what Washington called “an increasing wave of repression.”

“There are costs for those who are complicit in the regime’s repression. The United States will continue to use diplomatic and economic tools against members of the regime engaged in this wave of repression,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters.

The U.S. Treasury Department on Wednesday slapped sanctions on Ortega’s daughter and Coordinator of the Creative Economy Commission, Camila Antonia Ortega Murillo, as well as three others it accused of supporting the government that Washington said has undermined democracy, abused human rights, and enacted repressive laws.

The Treasury accused her of managing television station Canal 13, a family-run media outlet the department said spreads propaganda, while the president “uses state spending and tax laws to promote family-run stations and squeeze independent rival outlets”.

Also hit with sanctions are: Leonardo Ovidio Reyes Ramirez, president of the Central Bank of Nicaragua; Edwin Ramon Castro Rivera, a deputy of the Nicaraguan National Assembly; and Julio Modesto Rodriguez Balladares, a Brigadier General of the Nicaraguan Army and executive director of the Military Social Welfare Institute.

The Nicaraguan government and army did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the sanctions.

Wednesday’s action freezes any U.S. assets of those blacklisted and generally bars Americans from dealing with them.

Nicaraguan police detained two pre-candidates for the presidency on Tuesday, raising the number of recent arrests of potential contenders to unseat longtime President Ortega to four.

International organizations, including the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, have accused Ortega’s government of fabricating false accusations against opponents.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is very concerned by the recent arrests and detentions in Nicaragua and invalidation of opposition leaders’ candidacies, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters on Wednesday.

“These developments can seriously undermine the public’s confidence in the democratic process ahead of the November general elections,” Dujarric said, adding that Guterres calls on the authorities to fully respect international human rights obligations and release the political leaders.

Reporting by Daphne Psaledakis, Simon Lewis, Humeyra Pamuk, and Tim Ahmann