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U.S. picks a steady hand to serve as ambassador to increasingly volatile Nicaragua

U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday tapped career diplomat Kevin Sullivan as his choice to be the next U.S. ambassador to Nicaragua, a move that would ensure an experienced hand in a country that the United States is playing closer attention too.

If confirmed, Sullivan would be arriving in Nicaragua as tensions escalate between Washington and Managua.

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Earlier this month, the Trump administration slapped sanctions on three top Nicaraguan officials — including an in-law of President Daniel Ortega — accusing them of human rights abuses, corruption and ordering attacks on peaceful protesters.

On Wednesday (July 11), the U.S. revoked the visa visas of 21 Nicaraguan officials for entry into U.S. This latest information was revealed by Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Western Hemisphere Affairs Office of the Department of State, Kenneth Merten, during a hearing in the Committee on Foreign Relations of the United States House of Representatives.

More than 300 people have been killed since daily demonstrations began in mid-April when the government announced cuts to social security. The changes were quickly reversed, but protests continued with calls for Ortega and his wife and vice-president Rosario Murillo to step down.

Sullivan is a veteran diplomat who has served six overseas missions for the United States and held senior leadership positions at the Department of State. He helped negotiate an “Open Skies” agreement that governs rights to fly between the United States and Argentina, and also helped with the U.S.–Chile Free Trade Agreement in 2004.

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He is currently the Deputy Permanent Representative to the United States Mission to the Organization of American States (OAS). He previously served as Deputy Chief of Mission in Buenos Aires, Argentina and Lilongwe, Malawi.

Sullivan was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. He earned a B.A. in History at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. and a Master’s Degree in Public Policy from Princeton University. He has received the State Department’s Superior Honor Award twice.

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