New US sanctions against Nicaragua

On 20 December 2018, President Trump signed into law the Nicaragua Human Rights and Anticorruption Act of 2018. Being quite limited in scope, the Act instructs the US to oppose international loans and financial or technical assistance to the Nicaraguan government for projects in Nicaragua, unless the loans are sought for the purposes of addressing basic human needs or promoting democracy in Nicaragua.

The Act also authorizes the President to impose asset freeze, visa ban and exclusion from the US against any foreign person determined to be involved in, inter alia, serious human rights violations or acts of significant corruption by, or on behalf of, the Government of Nicaragua.

The Act is meant to pressure the regime of Nicaraguan President to restore democracy and rule of law in the country, and to end the use of indiscriminate violence and repressive tactics against civilians. The Act follows the US asset freezes and travel bans that were issued against high-level individuals of the Nicaraguan regime on 27 November 2018, for their engagement in "rampant corruption, dismantling of democratic institutions, serious human rights abuse, and exploitation of the people and public resources of Nicaragua for private gain" (see fact sheet from the White House).

The Act may indicate that the US might be gradually intensifying its sanctions regime against Nicaragua.

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