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U.S. Issues Sanctions against Nicaragua’s Top Electoral Official

LADB Article ID: 80518
Category/Department: Nicaragua
Date: 2018-02-08
By: Benjamin Witte-Lebhar

Given the climate of relentless, Twitter-fueled controversy that has characterized US politics since President Donald Trump—with his pledge to pursue an “America First” policy agenda—came to office last year, it’s reasonable to imagine that Washington would have more pressing concerns than Nicaragua, a small, impoverished nation that isn’t even a major source of immigration to the US, legal or otherwise. And yet, US authorities made it clear on a number of occasions last year that they were keeping a close eye on the Central American nation, which continues to be run by one of the US government’s old Cold War nemeses, President Daniel Ortega, a former guerrilla commander who led the country in the 1980s before returning to power more than a decade ago. Through the FSLN, Ortega and Rosario Murillo—his wife and now vice president—control all the key branches of government, including the country’s electoral oversight body, the Consejo Supremo Electoral (CSE). As such, they are virtually unopposed, at least within Nicaragua. Outside the country, however, it’s a different story, as a group of US lawmakers let it be known by introducing legislation in 2016 that called on the US to oppose non-humanitarian loans to Nicaragua unless the Nicaraguan government took “effective steps to hold free, fair, and transparent elections, and for other purposes.”.

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