US Imposes Visa Restrictions on Relatives of Nicaraguan Officials | News from the United States and Canada


For months, the Ortega administration detained political opponents ahead of the November 7 elections.

The United States has imposed visa restrictions on 50 immediate family members of Nicaraguan lawmakers, prosecutors and judges, the State Department said on Friday.

“Today, we are announcing visa restrictions against 50 other people, all immediate family members of officials affiliated with the regime who have directly contributed to measures adopted by the government of Nicaragua that do not qualify for a transparent election, free and equitable commitments to which all OAS member states are committed under the Inter-American Democratic Charter, ”State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.

“As these actions demonstrate, the United States is committed to promoting broad accountability for anyone responsible for or benefiting from the Ortega-Murillo regime’s attacks on democratic institutions.”

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, lead a rally in Managua, Nicaragua [File: Alfredo Zuniga/AP Photo]

For months, President Daniel Ortega’s government has held political opponents, including presidential candidates, ahead of an election in which the former Marxist fighter and Cold War antagonist Washington will run for a fourth consecutive term.

The State Department said the government had arrested 32 political opponents in the past two months, including Berenice Quezada, 27, a vice presidential candidate, two days after registering as an anti-government candidate in the country’s national elections. November 7.

His party, the Citizen Alliance for Freedom (ACXL), said Quezada had been under house arrest. Authorities later said she had been charged with inciting terrorism, but would be released pending trial.

Quezada was Miss Nicaragua in 2017 and was arrested at her home on Tuesday evening.

“Quezada… is under house arrest without access to a telephone, with migration restrictions and banned from running for public office,” tweeted the Citizens Alliance party.

“We demand that she be released and that Berenice Quezada’s human rights be respected.

Quezada is still apparently unable to resume his candidacy due to the charges against him.

She was the eighth electoral candidate to be arrested since May and had called on citizens to vote against President Ortega’s “dictatorship”, who is running for a fourth consecutive term.

Election authorities allied with Ortega had previously banned two opposition parties from running candidates.

Ortega alleges that the country’s street protests in April 2018 were part of an attempted coup organized with foreign support.

Nicaragua’s attorney general’s office said in a statement Wednesday that Quezada had committed acts that “incite hatred and violence”.

Oscar Sobalvarro, candidate for the presidency of the opposition party Alianza Ciudadanos por la Libertad, and his running mate to the vice-president, Berenice Quezada, after registering as candidates in the general elections of November 7, in Managua, Nicaragua, on August 2, 2021 [File: Maynor Valenzuela/Reuters]

The Nicaraguan Confidencial news agency reported on Tuesday that a complaint for “terrorist crime” had been filed against Quezada with the Nicaraguan electoral council for its criticism of the lack of freedoms in the Central American nation.

The Citizens’ Alliance on Monday registered Quezada as running mate of Oscar Sobalvarro, a businessman and former right-wing rebel commander of the Contras, the US-backed armed groups that have fought the Sandinista government in Ortega in the years 1980.

The United States and the European Union have imposed sanctions on Ortega’s family members, including his wife and vice president, Rosario Murillo, as well as key government figures, warning that the November 7 elections cannot be free with most of Ortega’s opponents imprisoned.

The US government’s Western Hemisphere Affairs Office said on Twitter that “Ortega-Murillo has slipped into new despair” with Quezada’s house arrest.

Many businessmen, journalists and politicians have fled abroad in recent months, awaiting arrest.


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