WASHINGTON: The United States on Friday imposed sanctions on Nicaraguan state-owned mining company Empresa Nicaraguense de Minas (ENIMINAS), accusing President Daniel Ortega’s government of deepening ties with Russia despite the war in Ukraine.
The United States and Nicaragua have been at odds for years, but relations took an especially hard hit when Daniel Ortega, a former Marxist guerrilla, won a fourth consecutive term in November after jailing rivals and cracking down on critical media. US President Joe Biden dismissed the election as a sham and imposed sanctions on more Nicaraguan officials.
“As the Ortega-Murillo regime increasingly engages Russia and continues lining its coffers with significant revenue exploited from the Nicaraguan gold sector, the regime has turned its back on the Nicaraguan people, neglecting their livelihoods for regime gains,” the Treasury’s Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian Nelson said in the statement.
President Daniel Ortega has backed Russian President Vladimir Putin in his attack on Ukraine.
Nicaragua’s Congress renewed on Tuesday a decade-long decree allowing Russian forces to train in the Central American country, a decision criticized by the United States in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The US Treasury Department in a statement on Friday said high-ranking members of Ortega and Vice President Rosario Murillo’s government have benefited from Nicaragua’s increase in gold exports, which it said was due largely to the role ENIMINAS has played in “funneling profits to private sector partners and kickbacks to regime insiders.”
The Treasury also designated Ruy Lopez Delgado, the president of the board of directors of ENIMINAS.
Friday’s action freezes any US assets of those designated and generally bars Americans from dealing with them.