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The State Department said on Friday that the United States has imposed visa restrictions on 50 immediate family members of Nicaraguan lawmakers, prosecutors and judges.
“Today we are announcing visa restrictions against a further 50 individuals, all immediate family members of regime-affiliated officials who have directly contributed to measures adopted by the Government of Nicaragua that do not meet the conditions for transparent, free, and fair elections to which all OAS member states have committed under the Inter-American Democratic Charter,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement.
The State Department said: “As these actions demonstrate, the United States is committed to promoting broad accountability for anyone responsible for or benefitting from the Ortega-Murillo regime’s attacks on democratic institutions.”
Over the past four months, the Ortega administration has been detaining opposition politicians accused of serious crimes ahead of the upcoming presidential elections in November.
The State Department claims the government has arrested 32 political opponents in the past two months, including Berenice Quezada, 27, a candidate for vice president, two days after register as a candidate for the elections.
Her party, the conservative Citizens Alliance for Liberty (ACXL) alleges Quezada had been placed under house arrest, and authorities say she had been charged with inciting terrorism, and would be released pending trial.
Quezada was Miss Nicaragua in 2017 and was detained at her home on Tuesday night.
She was the eighth candidate in the elections to be arrested since May, accused of a range of serious crimes, and she called on citizens to vote what she calls “the dictatorship” of President Ortega, seeking a fourth term in office.
The arrests are linked to participation in the April 2018 street riots, part of an organised coup attempt with foreign backing.
BREAKING: The Senate just approved my RENACER Act, making clear that the Ortega regime's brazen gambit to shackle all his challengers will not work. His fear of losing at the ballot box is no excuse for systematically dismantling Nicaragua’s democracy. https://t.co/RgleY90njopic.twitter.com/tzP2wet7C2
Nicaragua's attorney general’s office said in a statement on Wednesday that Quezada had committed acts that “incite hatred and violence."
The country's Confidencial news outlet reported Tuesday that a complaint of “terrorism crime” had been filed against Quezada to Nicaragua’s electoral council over her unfounded remarks about a supposed lack of freedoms in the Central American nation.
Quezada was registered on Monday to be the running mate of Oscar Sobalvarro, a former right-wing rebel commander for the Contras, the US-backed armed groups who fought Ortega’s Sandinista government in the 1980s.
The U.S. and the European Union have imposed sanctions against members of Ortega’s family, including his wife and vice president, Rosario Murillo, as well as other figures within the government, futilely hoping the measures will change the popularly-elected government's policies—at the expense of the Nicaraguan people,