The United States sanctioned Nicaraguan Vice President Rosario Murillo for corruption and human rights abuses. Photo by Jorge Torres/EPA-EFE
Nov. 28 (UPI) -- The U.S. administration imposed sanctions Wednesday on Nicaragua's vice president and first lady Rosario Murillo De Ortega for corruption and human rights abuses.
President Donald Trump signed an executive order permitting sanctions against individuals, entities and their associates engaged in corruption, human rights abuses and undermining democracy in Nicaragua -- to pressure the regime of Nicaragua President Daniel Ortega to restore democracy and rule of law.
Murillo and Nestor Moncada Lau, a national security adviser to Ortega, were both sanctioned as a result of the Nicaraguan leader's "violent response" to protests over changes made to the social security system.
The sanctions ban U.S. individuals, banks and other entities from transactions with those on the list, and will freeze any assets that fall under U.S. jurisdiction.
The Treasury Department said in a statement Ortega and supporters have engaged in "rampant corruption, dismantling of democratic institutions, serious human rights abuse and exploitation of the people and public resources of Nicaragua for private gain."
Murillo is believed to have influence over the Sandinista National Liberation Front's youth organization and the Nicaraguan National Police, both of which have "engaged in serious human rights abuse," U.S. officials said.
"Vice President Murillo and her political operators have systematically sought to dismantle democratic institutions and loot the wealth of Nicaragua to consolidate their grip on power," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said. "This Administration is committed to holding the Ortega regime accountable."
The Treasury said the NNP employed "death squads" to carry out extrajudicial killings, kidnappings and torture, while the youth organization attacked opponents of the Nicaraguan government.
Moncada is accused of acting as an intelligence agent for the Ortega regime and engaging in bribery and blackmail to sway people to support the government. The Treasury said he also "worked with President Ortega to cover up Ortega's sexual conduct with a minor."