WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States on Thursday imposed sanctions on three Nicaraguan government officials as it seeks to add pressure to the leftist government of President Daniel Ortega over what Washington views as its undermining of democratic institutions and the rule of law.
The officials were targeted under an executive order that allows the U.S. government to slap sanctions on members of the Nicaraguan government following a crackdown on anti-government protests.
The sanctions freeze any U.S. assets held by the targeted officials and prohibit Americans from doing business with them.
Demonstrations began in Nicaragua early last year over planned cuts to welfare benefits that later spread into broader protests against what critics see as Ortega’s increasingly authoritarian-style rule.
The Nicaraguan government has called previous U.S. sanctions on officials, including Ortega’s wife, a continuation of “imperial” designs on the small Central American country.
The officials targeted by the latest sanctions were blacklisted for their roles in human rights abuses, election fraud and corruption, the U.S. Treasury Department said in a statement.
They include Lumberto Ignacio Campbell Hooker, the acting president of the Nicaraguan Supreme Electoral Council and brother of the ambassador of Nicaragua to Washington.
The others are Ramon Antonio Avellan Medal, deputy director general of the Nicaraguan National Police, and Roberto Jose Lopez Gomez, the director of the Nicaraguan Social Security Institute.
Reporting by Daphne Psaledakis and Tim Ahmann; Additional reporting by Ismael Lopez in Managua; Editing by Steve Orlofsky and Rosalba O'Brien