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Treasury Set To Expand Sanctions For Ortega Regime

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The Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control will add regulations to strengthen previously imposed sanctions against Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega's regime.

OFAC said in a Sept. 4 Federal Register notice that it will "supplement" its Nicaragua Sanctions Regulations with additional guidance, general licenses and statements of licensing policy as they relate to trade with the Central American country's government agencies and individuals affiliated with the Ortega regime.

President Donald Trump first ordered sanctions against Nicaragua on April 18, 2018, after Ortega commanded his security agencies to crack down on political protesters.

On Nov. 27, 2018, OFAC imposed sanctions on two of Ortega's closest associates: Vice President and First Lady Rosario Maria Murillo De Ortega and Nestor Moncada Lau, who serves as a national security adviser to both the president and vice president. Both are alleged to have played a role in the June 2018 deaths of a family of six in Managua, as well as other hundreds of other killings and various human rights abuses against Nicaragua's citizens in recent years.

OFAC subsequently added Murillo and Moncada to the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDN) List. As a result, all U.S. property and interests in the U.S. owned or controlled by Murillo and Moncada are now blocked by OFAC.

On June 21, OFAC added four more senior Nicaraguan government officials to the SDN List: Gustavo Eduardo Porras Cortes, Orlando Jose Castillo Castillo, Sonia Castro Gonzalez and Oscar Salvador Mojica Obregon.

"The United States is sending an unequivocal message to President Ortega and his inner circle: We stand with the Nicaraguan people and their calls for reform and a return to democracy," said Sigal Mandelker, Treasury's undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, in a June 21 statement. "We will not hesitate to take action against those who perpetuate oppression or prop up the Ortega regime at the expense of the Nicaraguan people."

Sens. Bob Menendez, D-NJ, ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Ted Cruz, R-TX, said the Trump administration must do more under the Nicaraguan Investment Conditionality Act to penalize the Ortega regime for its use of violence against Nicaragua's citizens.

"It is critical that the United States reinforce efforts by the international community to maintain pressure on the Ortega regime and ensure it respects the rights of the Nicaraguan people, prosecutes those responsible for human rights violations and restores democratic processes," the senators wrote in a July 11 letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

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