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News > Latin America

US Sanctions Head of Nicaragua's Electoral Tribunal

  • Nicaragua's President, Daniel Ortega (R) and his wife Rosario Murillo celebrate electoral triumph.

    Nicaragua's President, Daniel Ortega (R) and his wife Rosario Murillo celebrate electoral triumph. | Photo: EFE

Published 27 December 2017

Sanctions follow requests from staunch anti-communist Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

On Thursday, the U.S. Treasury Department imposed sanctions on Roberto Rivas, president of Nicaragua's Electoral Tribunal, restricting his access to U.S. financial institutions and freezing any assets Rivas could have in the United States.


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The U.S. Treasury Department has accused the head of Nicaragua's electoral body of corruption and electoral fraud.

Cuban-American Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen — a Republican, a well-known supporter of the U.S. blockade of Cuba and a staunch detractor of progressive governments in Latin America — led the request for sanctions.

Ros-Lehtinen believes the sanctions to be "one tool ... to curb human rights abuses in Nicaragua and to hold the Ortega regime accountable."

President Daniel Ortega of the Sandinista National Liberation Front, FSLN, won the 2016 presidential elections with over 70 percent of votes. 

Roberto Rivas came under fire after the FSLN obtained an overwhelming victory, first in the presidential elections and then in the municipal elections.  

Opposition parties claim electoral fraud, but the Organization of American States, OAS, endorsed the official results that gave 135 out of 153 municipal governments to the FSLN. The OAS, which sent a delegation to observe the electoral process recognized the election's transparency. 

The backlash against Roberto Rivas and Ortega's government have raised claims of bias, especially after the U.S. government recognized Juan Orlando Hernandez as President of Honduras in spite of a wave of demonstrations that have claimed at least 16 lives.

Unlike Nicaragua, in Honduras the OAS and EU election observation missions denounced irregularities, and the OAS went as far as calling for new elections.  

According to the president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Nicaragua, Alvaro Rodriguez, the sanctions were imposed as an alternative to the Nica Act, a legislation that aimed to block Nicaragua's access to loans by international financial institutions.

"It is an alternative law, because, lets say, we believe the Nica Act will not go through," Rodriguez said.  

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