US Sanctions Nicaragua Officials, Entities for Fueling Illegal Immigration

Senior administration officials also condemned the regime’s continued repression of Nicaraguans’ human rights and freedom of expression. 
US Sanctions Nicaragua Officials, Entities for Fueling Illegal Immigration
Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega (R) and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, during the commemoration of the 51st anniversary of the Pancasan guerrilla campaign, in Managua, Nicaragua, on Aug. 29, 2018. (Inti Ocon/AFP/Getty Images)
T.J. Muscaro

The Biden administration announced new actions against Nicaragua on May 15 to combat the authoritarian, left-wing Ortega–Murillo regime’s “exploitation” of migrants that they say is exacerbating the illegal immigration crisis in the region.

“The regime sells visas upon arrival at their airports for migrants that require them to leave the country in 96 hours,” a senior administration official said during a call with reporters.

“So they are profiting quite substantially off of facilitation of irregular migrants who ultimately in many cases make their way up toward our southwest border.”

Senior officials also condemned the regime’s continued repression of Nicaraguans’ human rights and freedom of expression.

“Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo and those under their command continue to unjustly detain their own countrymen for bravely advocating for free civil society, religious freedom, and freedom of expression,” another senior administration official said.

The Biden administration is “committed to promoting accountability” for those who act on behalf of the regime’s “assaults on democracy and human rights,” he said.

Actions taken by the Treasury Department and Department of Homeland Security include imposing visa restrictions on more than 250 members of the Nicaraguan government as well as “select non-governmental actors.”

Those affected in the government include judges, police and paramilitary personnel, penitentiary officials, prosecutors, and public higher education officials.

Sanctions also have been imposed on three Nicaragua-based entities. One is a training center in Managua for the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs, which a senior administration official said “enables anti-democratic behavior and repression.”

The other two are gold companies that generate revenue for the regime: Compania Minera Internacional, Sociedad Anonima (COMINTSA), and Capital Mining Investment Nicaragua, Sociedad Anonima.

The sanctions prohibit U.S. persons from engaging in transactions with these entities, and any assets that they have in the United States are blocked.

Along with the sanctions and restrictions, a joint policy alert is being released by the Departments of State, Homeland Security, and Treasury to airlines, air charter operators, travel agents, and service providers.

The alert warns about ways that smugglers facilitate illegal migration and trafficking networks to the United States and is a reminder of “the importance of preventing the exploitation of their legitimate transportation services,” a senior administration official said.

The alert also provides five suggestions for mitigating irregular migration, such as transmitting accurate advance passenger information 24 hours before a scheduled takeoff, as is required by government regulations.

However, White House officials clarified that they are not trying to stop tourists and legitimate travel to and from Nicaragua, despite concerns that it helps to enrich the current regime.

A senior official emphasized that the Biden administration is focused on the regime “profiting off the movement of migrants and facilitating the smuggling of migrants.”

“We think these are a set of strong measures that both convey the seriousness with which the Biden administration takes these issues, and also we expect and hope that they will have a concrete effect, and we will continue to evaluate and monitor and adjust as needed depending on what we see on the ground,” she said.

Born and raised in Tampa, Florida, T.J. Muscaro covers the Sunshine State, America's space industry, the theme park industry, and family-related issues.
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