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US imposes travel restrictions against Nicaraguan President

The US government yesterday imposed an entry ban on the Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and other government officials. The move by the US government comes after the recently held elections in the Central American country was termed by the US as “rigged.”

The US President Joe Biden issued a proclamation banning the entry of all elected government officials, that includes President Ortega, his wife and Vice President Rosario Murillo. The ban also includes members of the judiciary, security forces, local officials and others who undermined the election. 

The Biden government has dismissed the elections held on 7 November as illegitimate. Ahead of the polls, Nicaraguan officials had detained about 40 opposition leaders. Of the 40 detained opposition leaders, seven were contesting against the incumbent President Ortega. There was a crackdown on media personnel and members of civil society. This arrest ensured the almost unopposed election of President Ortega and his wife Vice President Murillo.

While signing the proclamation, President Biden said that repressive and abusive actions of the Ortega government compelled US to act like that. 

The Proclamation said: “The Ortega government’s undemocratic, authoritarian actions have crippled the electoral process and stripped away the right of Nicaraguan citizens to choose their leaders in free and fair elections.” 

On 15 November, the US imposed a separate financial sanction against the officials of the Central American country.

Similar sanctions were also imposed by Britain and Canada. While Britain has imposed restrictions against eight government office bearers, the Canadian government has issued orders against 11 government officials. 

Daniel Ortega, a Marxist leader, ruled the country from 1979 to 1990, after ousting dictator Anastasio Somoza. He was defeated in the 1990 general election. However, he remained active as opposition leader in Nicaraguan politics. In 2007, Ortega came back to power and since then he has won four terms. 

He not only ordered the arrests and crackdown of opposition leaders, journalists and members of civil society, he also changed the term limits on presidents.

Ortega has reacted to US criticisms by terming it as “imperialist.” The Marxist leader said that the US actions undermine the democratic process in his country. 

While three countries have taken actions against Ortega, Russia, Venezuela and Cuba has extended support to his leadership.

Prior to Biden, his predecessor President Donal Trump had also imposed sanctions against the Ortega government. 

The regional organisation representing the Americas, the Organisation of American States (OAS) has passed a resolution against the recently concluded polls. Election observers from the OAS and European Union (EU) were not allowed to monitor the electoral process. 

The Sandinista alliance, led by Ortega, won more than 70 percent of popular votes in the recently held elections.