U.S. slaps sanctions on Nicaraguan army chief, finance minister

Commander Daniel Ortega along with Army General Julio Cesar Aviles. Photo: Presidency / Confidential

The United States today sought to further pressure on Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega by imposing another round of sanctions, this time targeting the country’s army chief and finance minister, according to a Reuters report.

In a statement, the U.S. Treasury Department said it had imposed sanctions on Julio Cesar Aviles, Nicaragua’s army commander-in-chief, and Ivan Adolfo Acosta, its finance and public credit minister.

“The Ortega regime’s continued violations of basic human rights, blatant corruption, and widespread violence against the Nicaraguan people are unacceptable,” U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in the statement.

The Reuters report stated that today’s action freezes any U.S. assets held by the officials and generally bars Americans from dealing with them.

U.S. officials have previously targeted Ortega’s leftist government as the Trump administration seeks to increase pressure amid anti-government protests against what critics have said is Ortega’s increasingly authoritarian-style rule.

In March, Washington sanctioned the Nicaraguan National Police over accusations of human rights abuse. Last year, the Trump administration imposed sanctions on Ortega’s son as well as three other Nicaraguan officials, among others, according to the Reuters report.

“The United States will continue to apply pressure to  the Ortega regime  until  it  stops  repressing the Nicaraguan people, respects  human rights and fundamental freedoms, and allows the conditions for free and fair elections and the restoration of democracy in Nicaragua,” Reuters quoted U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as saying in a separate statement on Friday.