The US Department of State announced new sanctions on Thursday, under the Global Magnitsky Act, against three of Daniel Ortega’s high-ranking government officials for violating human rights and being involved in acts of corruption.
Those coming under fire are General Commissioner Francisco “Paco” Diaz of the National Police; Fidel Moreno, secretary at Managua City Hall and Francisco “Chico” Lopez, vice-president at Albanisa, president of Petronic and the FSLN’s treasurer.
These three officials belong to the presidential couple’s inner circle of trust and join former elections magistrate, Roberto Rivas, who was the first person to be sanctioned in Nicaragua under this law which means freezing assets in the US belonging to those being sanctioned and banning them from carrying out any commercial or financial transactions. These sanctions are applied by the US Treasury Department.
“As a result of today’s actions, all assets belonging to those named, or any assets they form a part of, will be blocked within US jurisdiction. Plus, US citizens are banned from carrying out transactions with those being sanctioned, including bodies they belong to or are controlled by them,” the US Department of State announced.
Commissioner Francisco “Paco” Diaz, relative by marriage of the presidential couple, is at the top of this sanctions list and he is the one they hold “responsible” for the police repression against protesters in the civic uprising, as well as “extrajudicial killings.” Diaz “has taken part in serious human rights violations against the Nicaraguan people,” they highlighted.
Managua City Hall Secretary, Fidel Moreno, who is also the secretary of organization of the Sandinista Front, is being held responsible for leading “acts of violence committed by the Sandinista Youth and other pro-government armed groups who have been involved in many human rights violations with regard to the protests currently taking place against the Nicaraguan government.”
“Moreno is the link between Managua City Hall, the Sandinista Front and the Sandinista Youth” in repressing civilians,” a source at the US Department of State said.
In Francisco “Chico” Lopez’s case, the vice-president of Albanisa and FSLN treasurer, is accused by the US State Department of acts of corruption in the discretionary management of Venezuelan cooperation funds, which exceeded $4 billion USD. “He has been accused of leveraging his position to his and his family’s benefit by using companies they own to win government contracts.”
The State Department had expressed its concern about the socio-political crisis that has taken over Nicaragua in its statements, pressing for early elections.
“Today’s sanctions announcement, together with earlier and ongoing visa revocations, shows the United States will not stand by idly in the face of the abuses taking place in Nicaragua. Rather, we will expose and hold accountable those responsible for the Nicaraguan government’s continuing violence and intimidation campaign against its people. These actions must end. We support the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua’s efforts to advance negotiations to resolve the crisis and urge full implementation of the June 15th National Dialogue agreement on human rights as a critical component,” said the State Department.
The Global Magnitsky Act was approved in 2012 as a result of investigations into Vladimir Putin’s government officials involved in the detention and death of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who investigated acts of corruption in Russia. At first, the Act only affected citizens in Russia. However, in 2016, it was amended so that it could extend to include any foreigner involved in acts of corruption and human rights violations.