WASHINGTON: The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated six officials of the Government of Nicaragua pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13851. President Daniel Ortega and Vice President Rosario Murillo are scheduled to be inaugurated today following fraudulent national elections orchestrated by their regime in November, further consolidating their control of power to the detriment of the Nicaraguan people.
This action targets officials of the Nicaraguan military, the Nicaraguan minister of defense, the Nicaraguan Institute of Telecommunications and Mail (TELCOR), and the state-owned Nicaraguan Mining Company (ENIMINAS). Treasury is taking this action along with the European Union, which also adopted sanctions today related to the Ortega-Murillo regime’s ongoing abuses.
“The Ortega-Murillo regime continues its subjugation of democracy through effectuating sham elections, silencing peaceful opposition, and holding hundreds of people as political prisoners,” said Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson. “The United States and our partners are sending a clear message to President Ortega, Vice President Murillo, and their inner circle that we continue to stand with the Nicaraguan people in their calls for the immediate release of these political prisoners and a return to democracy.”
As a complement to OFAC’s actions, the Department of State took steps to impose visa restrictions on individuals complicit in undermining democracy in Nicaragua, including mayors, prosecutors, and university administrators, as well as police, prison, and military officials.
The following six individuals serve as members of the Ortega-Murillo regime. They are designated for being officials of the Government of Nicaragua or for having served as officials of the Government of Nicaragua at any time on or after January 10, 2007.
STATE ACTS OF VIOLENCE
Since April 2018, the Ortega-Murillo regime has cracked down on political opposition and public demonstrations, leading to more than 300 deaths, 2,000 injuries, and the imprisonment of hundreds of political and civil society actors. More than 100,000 Nicaraguans have since fled the country. The Nicaraguan Army not only refused to order the disarming and dismantling of paramilitary or “parapolice” forces during and after the political uprisings but the military also provided weapons to the parapolice who carried out acts of violence against Nicaraguans.
Bayardo De Jesus Pulido Ortiz is a brigadier general and the head of the personnel and cadre department of the Nicaraguan Army and a member of the board of directors of the Military Social Welfare Institute (IPSM).
Bayardo Ramon Rodriguez Ruiz is a major general and the chief of the general staff of the Nicaraguan Army and a member of the board of directors of the IPSM.
Rosa Adelina Barahona De Rivas is the Nicaraguan minister of defense and a member of the board of directors of the IPSM.
DISINFORMATION AND TARGETING OF INDEPENDENT MEDIA
On November 1, 2021, Meta (formerly Facebook Inc.) removed a troll farm of more than 1,000 social media accounts run by the Ortega-Murillo regime, primarily operated by TELCOR employees, to sway public opinion in favor of the regime and spread negative propaganda about the opposition. TELCOR was established in 1982 and is an autonomous entity under the guidance of the Nicaraguan Presidency that implements regulations and monitors compliance over telecommunications and postal services. TELCOR officials are officials of the Government of Nicaragua. Beginning in April 2018, the troll network attempted to discredit pro-democracy protestors and amplify pro-government content. Additionally, according to public reporting, in the timeframe of the November 2021 election, TELCOR suspended the operating license of television Channel 21 after former presidential candidate, and director of Channel 21, Reverend Guillermo Osorno of the Nicaraguan Christian Way party publicly denounced anomalies in the electoral process. Since 2007, the regime has targeted media in an effort to silence them, often using TELCOR as a tool of repression.
Celina Delgado Castellon is the deputy director general of TELCOR, and a member of the board of directors of the National Electric Transmission Company (ENATREL) representing TELCOR.
Nahima Janett Diaz Flores is the director general of TELCOR.
STATE-RUN GOLD MINING
The Government of Nicaragua’s 2017 creation of state-owned ENIMINAS increased state involvement in the mining sector, especially gold mining, through joint ventures with private firms. The value of Nicaragua’s gold exports has increased dramatically in recent years, driving profits to its allies in the private sector and increasing ENIMINAS revenues, which senior figures in the ruling party manage. Because ENIMINAS is owned or controlled by, or acts for or on behalf of, the Government of Nicaragua, officials of ENIMINAS are, therefore, officials of the Government of Nicaragua.
Ramon Humberto Calderon Vindell is a retired major general, former president of the board of directors of Nicaraguan state owned oil company Petroleos de Nicaragua, and president of the board of directors of the ENIMINAS.
As a result of today’s action, all property and interests in property of these persons that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons are blocked and must be reported to OFAC. In addition, any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more in the aggregate by one or more of such persons are also blocked. OFAC’s regulations generally prohibit all dealings by U.S. persons or within (or transiting) the United States that involve any property or interests in property of blocked or designated persons.
The sanctions imposed today are not intended to be permanent but are issued to encourage a positive change of behavior by the identified persons and the authoritarian regime they support. The United States has made clear that the removal of sanctions may be available for individuals and entities designated pursuant to E.O. 13851 who take concrete and meaningful actions to promote democracy and the rule of law in Nicaragua.