Demonstrators protest the regime of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega at a rally in Miami, Florida, on June 1. Photo by Gary I Rothstein/UPI | License Photo
Dec. 21 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump has signed a bill issuing new sanctions against Nicaragua that go after finances associated with the embattled regime of President Daniel Ortega.
The White House said Trump signed the Nicaragua Human Rights and Anticorruption Act into law Thursday. It seeks to curtail loans to Nicaragua by international financial institutions, like the World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank. Business leaders there who are favor the sanctions believe Ortega could try to hold power indefinitely without international pressure.
Two previous bills targeting Nicaragua -- the Nicaraguan Investment Conditionality Act and the Rights and Anticorruption Law of Nicaragua -- were combined in September.
"Nicaragua is a very different country than Venezuela," said Juan Sebastian Chamorro, president of the Nicaragua Foundation for Economic and Social Development. "We have no oil, and we are heavily dependent on foreign loans and private sector investments."
Chamorro said the sanctions could bring the type in internal pressure needed to force Ortega to negotiate with the country's opposition.
Last month, the U.S. Treasury sanctioned Ortega and regime supporters accused of "rampant corruption, dismantling of democratic institutions, serious human rights abuse, and exploitation of the people and public resources of Nicaragua for private gain." The sanctions individually targeted Nicaragua Vice President (and first lady) Rosario Maria Murillo De Ortega and Nestor Moncada Lau, a security adviser to both Ortegas.
"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 of the sanctions last month.
"This administration is committed to holding the Ortega regime accountable for the violent protests and widespread corruption that have led to the deaths of hundreds of innocent Nicaraguans and destroyed their economy."