Above Photo: President Joe Biden pauses at the top of the stairs as he boards Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Thursday, Oct. 20, 2022.
Activists slammed the latest round of US sanctions aimed at destabilising Nicaragua.
The Biden administration said on Monday that it would ban US citizens from doing business with Nicaragua’s gold industry.
The White House also raised the possibility that it may impose further trade restrictions on the central American nation, which could include stripping 500 government insiders of their US visas.
Previous rounds of sanctions have focused on President Daniel Ortega, Vice-President Rosario Murillo, who is Mr Ortega’s wife, and members of their family.
But the new executive order greatly expands a Trump-era decree by accusing Mr Ortega of hijacking democratic norms, undermining the rule of law and using political violence against opponents.
The order will make it all but illegal for US citizen to do business with Nicaragua’s gold industry.
This is the first time that Washington has identified a specific sector of the Nicaraguan economy as off-limits.
The executive order also paves the way for the US to restrict investment and trade with Nicaragua, a move recalling the punishing US embargo imposed in the 1980s during Mr Ortega’s first term as president.
The White House also claimed that Nicaragua was a threat to the national security of the US, although analysts believe the latest sanctions form part of a reprisal for Nicaragua’s continued security co-operation with Russia.
Condemning the latest US attempt to bring about regime change, the Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign Action Group said: “This is the latest in a long line of hostile acts by the US administration, which is determined to suffocate the Nicaraguan economy and bring the country to its knees. It’s a move which could lead to thousands of job losses.
“We must defend Nicaragua against these attacks and uphold the right of the Nicaraguan people to defend their sovereignty and live in peace.”
Female-led peace and social justice organisation Codepink recalled that “these sanctions on Nicaragua, like all US economic warfare around the world, disproportionately hurt and kill civilians by depriving them of essentials like food and medicine,” adding: “No sanctions on Nicaragua!”
Social programmes in Nicaragua are heavily dependent on the proceeds from the gold-mining industry, so hitting it with sanctions is likely to have a severe impact on one of the poorest nations in the Western hemisphere.