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The Biden administration is ramping up pressure on President Daniel Ortega’s authoritarian rule in Nicaragua. New sanctions target the lucrative mining sector in this Central American country.
Biden’s decree includes the power to prevent US companies from doing business in Nicaragua’s gold-mining operations. In a statement on Monday, the ministry said that the US Treasury, in turn, is imposing sanctions on the country’s mining authority and a close associate of Ortega.
Gold was Nicaragua’s most important export product last year, with exports of the precious metal totaling $867 million. Of that amount, 79 percent went to the United States, according to data from the country’s central bank.
In addition to mining, the new sanctions package could also be used to prevent new US investment in other sectors in Nicaragua. In a statement, the Americans said the goal was to “deprive the resources you need to continue to undermine Nicaragua’s democratic institutions.” Previous US sanctions targeted dictator Ortega, his wife, Vice President Murillo, and those close to them.
Ortega is a former guerrilla fighter. He has been in power in the Central American country since 2007, having previously served as president from 1985 to 1990. In 2018, large social protests erupted against his regime, crushing them with a heavy hand. Since those protests, Ortega has taken complete control of the country. Many opposition members, businessmen and journalists are trapped in the country.
Tensions with the Netherlands as well
The new round of US sanctions comes amid recent tensions between the Netherlands and Nicaragua. Earlier this month, the country cut diplomatic ties with the Netherlands. This happened after the Netherlands ended funding for the construction of a hospital. The EU ambassador to Nicaragua has also been declared persona non grata. Subsequently, Europe separated the Nicaraguan envoy from the European Union.
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