The United States is revoking visas for Nicaraguan officials responsible for violence against anti-government protesters, saying these are just the start of what could be more sanctions.
“After years of fraudulent elections and the regime’s manipulation of Nicaraguan law, the Nicaraguan people have taken to the streets to call for democratic reforms,” the White House said Monday. “These demands have been met with indiscriminate violence, with more than 350 dead, thousands injured, and hundreds of citizens falsely labeled “coup-mongers’ and ‘terrorists.'”
The U.S. has already sanctioned three senior Nicaraguan officials for human rights abuses and corruption.
It has also taken back vehicles it donated to the Nicaraguan police, which officers have used in their violent crackdown, and suspended such sales to Nicaragua.
The Trump administration is also pledging $1.5 million in aid to those fighting for democracy, human nights and an independent media in Nicaragua.
Anti-government protests erupted in April after President Daniel Ortega announced changes to the country’s popular pension system.
Ortega soon scrapped his plans, but the protests continued and were met by a violent crackdown by police and armed pro-government civilians.
Nicaraguan human rights groups say more than 350 people have been killed. The government puts the death toll at a little more than 200.
Ortega is a former leftist Sandinista leader who helped topple a right-wing government in 1979.
He has rebuffed calls from religious leaders to hold talks with the opposition and rejected demands for early elections.
Ortega accuses the protesters of planning a coup.