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US imposes new sanctions on Nicaragua over internal repression

The United States this Wednesday (15) imposed visa restrictions on more than 250 members of the Nicaraguan government and applied sanctions to three Nicaraguan entities in retaliation for “repressive actions” and for failing to contain the flow of migrants through the central country. American.

Senior administration officials told reporters that employees subject to visa restrictions included police and paramilitary personnel, prosecutors, judges and public higher education employees.

At the same time, the Departments of State, Homeland Security, and Treasury issued a joint alert to notify airlines and travel agents about the ways in which smuggling and human trafficking networks are exploiting legitimate transportation services to facilitate illegal migration to the United States through Nicaragua.

“The actions of the Nicaraguan government are of great concern. President Daniel Ortega and Vice President Rosario Murillo have implemented permissive migration policies,” the Department of Homeland Security said in a statement.

The Nicaraguan government did not immediately respond to a request for a response.

Increasingly, migrants have been flying to Nicaragua and then north to the U.S.-Mexico border, while some smugglers promote the route through social media.

Many migrants in recent years have begun their journeys in Brazil or other South American countries, but flying to Nicaragua avoids the often dangerous journey through the jungle region known as the Darien Gap on the Colombia-Panama border.

The administration of President Joe Biden, a Democrat, has struggled with record numbers of migrant crossings at the U.S.-Mexico border, and as he runs for re-election in November, voters have increasingly said immigration is a top concern.

Senior Biden administration officials told reporters in a conference call on Wednesday that sanctions will be applied against a Russian training center operating in Managua since October 2017 that enabled undemocratic behavior and repression.

A Treasury Department press release said Nicaragua was one of Russia's “key partners” in Central America and the training center provided specialized courts to the Nicaraguan National Police (NNP), which the release called “a repressive apparatus of the State, carrying out extrajudicial executions, using live ammunition against peaceful protests and even participating in death squads.”

Additionally, the Treasury Department imposed sanctions on two gold companies it said were “government affiliates.”

Gold is Nicaragua’s main commodity export, the Treasury announcement said, and “this action seeks to degrade the Ortega-Murillo regime’s ability to manipulate the sector and profit.” Reuters could not immediately reach the companies for comment.

Border apprehensions of migrants fell by half from December to March, according to U.S. government data, in part due to increased enforcement by Mexican authorities, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said.

Source: CNN Brasil

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