US slaps sanctions on Nicaraguan Army Chief, Finance Minister
…what’s ahead if elections rigged in Guyana
The United States today sought to further pressure 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 US 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,” US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in the statement.
The Reuters report stated that today’s action freezes any US assets held by the officials and generally bars Americans from dealing with them.
US 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 US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as saying in a separate statement on Friday.
Guyana, electoral fraud
Only last week, US Ambassador to Guyana Sarah-Ann Lynch reminded that as much as the threat of sanctions hangs over Guyana’s head over electoral fraud, it is an option the United States is hopeful it will not have to use.
Lynch explained that sanctions range in seriousness from targeted measures such as individual visa restrictions to financial measures that could impact the economy.
“You’ve seen some of the statements coming out of Washington. Secretary [of State Mike] Pompeo. Assistant Secretary [Michael] Kozak. The National Security Council. They have been very strong. And Secretary Pompeo did point to serious consequences if the democratic process, the rule of law, and the principles of democracy are not followed in Guyana.
“So, sanctions are a set of tools in the toolkit that potentially can be explored. Decisions on sanctions – first of all, they range from issues of visa restrictions to issues of financial measures. So, it’s a range of things that can be discussed and looked into. And those decisions are made at the highest levels of the Government in Washington, with the inter-agency fully concurring.”
It has already been over two months of controversy and a credible winner for the March 2 General and Regional Elections is yet to be declared. After two declarations from Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica) Returning Officer Clairmont Mingo, which lacked transparency, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo and caretaker President David Granger had agreed to have the Caribbean Community (Caricom) oversee the recount.
That agreement was derailed when A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) candidate Ulita Moore moved to the courts and secured an injunction against the exercise.
That injunction was discharged by the Full Court and later, the Full Court’s decision was upheld by the Appeals Court. But by then, the Caricom team had long since left. GECOM re-invited them and the recount started last week with the understanding that it would last for 25 days.
In the meantime, countries and organisations from all around the world have said that the earlier tabulation process done by GECOM lacked credibility. This is compounded by the warnings from several Governments, including the United States’, that officials could face sanctions if President Granger is sworn in based on this questionable process.