US pulls visas of 100 Nicaraguan legislators, judges

MANAGUA, Nicaragua — The U.S. State Department announced Monday it is revoking the travel visas of 100 legislators, judges and prosecutors who aided the regime of President Daniel Ortega.

The department said the visa cancellations came in response to the arrests by Ortega’s Sandinista government of at least 26 members of the opposition and most potential candidates in the Nov. 7 elections.

The department accused the officials and their family members of having “advanced the Ortega-Murillo regime’s assault on democracy.” That was a reference to Rosario Murillo, Ortega’s wife and Vice President.

The measure targets “those with responsibility for, or complicity in, the suppression of peaceful protests or abuse of human rights, and the immediate family members of such persons.” It prevents those named from entering the United States.

In June, Mexico and Argentina recalled their ambassadors to Nicaragua for consultations, and the Organization of American States passed a resolution condemning the recent arrests of key opposition figures. Those arrested also include opposition leaders, prominent businessmen and former government officials.

Since June, Ortega’s government has arrested six probable candidates in the Nov. 7 elections, in which Ortega, 75, is running for a fourth consecutive presidential term.

The government has accused most of those arrested with accepting foreign funding and working for the overthrow of the government. Ortega has characterized a popular uprising in April 2018 that led to months of street protests as an attempted coup with foreign backing.

Legislators, judge and prosecutors have aided Ortega by applying spurious “treason” and censorship laws to justify the arrest of opponents.

The State Department said: “The United States will continue to use the diplomatic and economic tools at our disposal to push for the release of political prisoners and to support Nicaraguans’ calls for greater freedom, accountability, and free and fair elections.”