On Monday, White House confirmed that the US visas of Nicaraguan officials will be restricted or entirely revoked on the grounds of their involvement in violence against protesters.
President Daniel Ortega has been heavily criticized for the heavy-handed approach of military and pro-government civilians to end protests which resulted to close to 300 deaths and thousands of injuries.
The White House issued a statement saying “The United States strongly condemns the ongoing violence in Nicaragua and human rights abuses committed by the Ortega regime in response to protests.”
The US government also said that they have secured the return of all the vehicles that were donated to Nicaraguan police because these were used in the paramilitary attacks made against protesters.
Furthermore, they have issued a cease order to sell and donate equipment to Nicaragua.
The Trump administration warned “these are a start, not an end, of potential 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 labelled ‘coup-mongers’ and ‘terrorists.'”
The proposed cuts to the country’s social security system drove people to the streets to hold anti-government demonstrations.
The violent ways of cracking down student-led protests which led to the deaths of two dozen people in the first week further ignited demands for Ortega to step down.
On Monday, President Ortega said in a CNN interview with Andres Oppenheimer that he will not schedule early elections because the opposition cannot accept defeat. When asked about human rights abuses committed by state-backed paramilitary forces, the Nicaraguan leader said that reports are false and passed the blame to the opposition.
“Human rights organizations are politicized, have a systematic policy against the government and push people to file complaints. They invent anything,” said Ortega.