U.S. Implements Sanctions and Visa Restrictions on Nicaragua for Repression and Migrant Smuggling

By LG Staff

By LG Staff

May 16, 2024

In response to what it deems as “repressive actions” and a failure to curb migrant smuggling, the United States has taken decisive measures against Nicaragua. On Wednesday, the U.S. imposed visa restrictions on over 250 members of the Nicaraguan government and imposed sanctions on three Nicaraguan entities.

These restrictions target a wide array of individuals within Nicaragua’s government, including police and paramilitary officials, prosecutors, judges, and officials in public higher education. The move is a direct response to concerns over the government’s handling of migration and its alleged role in facilitating migrant smuggling through Nicaragua.

The Departments of State, Homeland Security, and the Treasury issued a joint alert to raise awareness among airlines and travel agents about the exploitation of legitimate transportation services by smuggling and human trafficking networks operating through Nicaragua.

The Department of Homeland Security expressed serious concern over the Nicaraguan government’s migration policies, accusing President Daniel Ortega and Vice President Rosario Murillo of implementing lax policies that enable illegal migration.

Migrants, increasingly, have been utilizing Nicaragua as a transit point, flying into the country before making their way northward to the U.S.-Mexico border. This route, facilitated by social networks and smugglers, circumvents the perilous journey through the Darien Gap on the Colombia-Panama border.

The Biden administration, amidst a surge in migrant crossings at the U.S.-Mexico border, has faced mounting pressure to address immigration concerns. As part of its response, the administration has opted to impose sanctions on a Russian training center in Managua, operating since October 2017, which is alleged to have supported anti-democratic activities and repression.

Additionally, the Treasury Department has targeted two government-affiliated gold companies, citing their connection to the Nicaraguan regime and its exploitation of the gold sector for profit.

While migrant apprehensions at the border have seen a decline from December to March, attributed in part to increased enforcement by Mexican authorities, the U.S. remains committed to addressing the root causes of irregular migration and holding accountable those involved in facilitating it.

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