The U.S. State Department announced visa restrictions on “individuals responsible for human rights abuses or undermining democracy in Nicaragua,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement Thursday.
“Secretary Mike Pompeo today decided to impose US visa restrictions on individuals responsible for human rights abuses or undermining democracy in Nicaragua,” Nauert said.
On Monday, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence accused Nicaragua’s government, led by President Daniel Ortega, of “committing and condoning terrible violence against its people.”
“The United States and our allies must speak with one voice and say to the Ortega government: The violence must end, and the violence must end now,” Pence added to applause from a crowd of visiting senior Western Hemisphere officials.
“The political violence by police and pro-government thugs against the people of Nicaragua, particularly university students, shows a blatant disregard for human rights and is unacceptable,” said Nauert.
Nicaraguan police forces have cracked down on a series of demonstrations in recent weeks. At least 127 people have died in Nicaragua in protests since April 18 triggered by President Daniel Ortega’s unpopular plan to overhaul the social security system. He scrapped the reform but demonstrations went on.
In her statement, Nauert would not publicly identify the affected officials, but said they include “National Police officials, municipal government officials, and a Ministry of Health official,” as well as some of these officials’ family members.
“We emphasize the action we are announcing today is specific to certain officials and not directed at the Nicaraguan people,” said Nauert. “We will continue to monitor the situation and take additional steps as necessary.”