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Biden administration sanctions Nicaragua for 'weaponization' of 'irregular migration'

By Mike Heuer
The Biden administration on Wednesday accused Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and his wife, Nicaraguan Vice President Rosario Murillo, of exploiting migrants while enabling "irregular migration" and human trafficking of those journeying to the United States. File Photo by Anatoli Zhdanov/UPI
The Biden administration on Wednesday accused Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and his wife, Nicaraguan Vice President Rosario Murillo, of exploiting migrants while enabling "irregular migration" and human trafficking of those journeying to the United States. File Photo by Anatoli Zhdanov/UPI | License Photo

May 15 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden's administration announced sanctions and restrictions placed on Nicaragua Wednesday to reduce migration at the southern border.

The Biden administration says Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, are profiteering off the plight of "irregular migrants" seeking passage to the United States.

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Nicaragua's regime "sells visas upon arrival at their airports for migrants that require them to leave the country in 96 hours," a senior Biden administration official told reporters Wednesday morning.

"They are profiting quite substantially off facilitation of irregular migrants who ... make their way up towards out southwest border," the unidentified administration official said.

"The regime is also responsible for the weaponization and profiteering off of desperate and vulnerable migrants," the official added.

The Biden administration also issued a policy alert for airlines and private companies to be wary of Nicaragua's treatment of migrants and possible related human rights abuses.

The alert regards disrupting irregular migration by warning airlines, air charter operators, travel agents and service providers of the many ways in which "migrant smuggling and human trafficking networks are exploiting legitimate transportation services to facilitate irregular migration to the United States."

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The alert says smugglers and human traffickers are using Managua as a disembarkation point to continue an overland route to the southern border of the United States.

The Ortega-Murillo regime has "put in place permissive-by-design migration policies that have introduced opportunities for migrant smuggling and trafficking networks to exploit migrants for economic gain and fuel dangerous, irregular travel towards the U.S. southwest border," the alert says.

The Department of State imposed visa restrictions on more than 250 members of the Nicaraguan government and non-governmental "actors" who support the Ortega-Murillo regime in "its attacks on human rights and fundamental freedoms, repression of civil society organizations and profiting off of vulnerable migrants."

Ortega, Murillo and their subordinates "continue to unjustly detain those who advocate for a free civil society, religious freedom and freedom of expression and enrich their regime through exploitation of vulnerable migrants," State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said in the press statement on the matter.

The Department of Treasury also has placed sanctions on three Nicaragua-based entities that enable the Ortega-Murillo regime to expand its "repressive police state," Miller said.

The three entities include a Nicaragua-based Russian training center that Miller said "helps maintain a cycle of violent oppression in Nicaragua."

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The other entities are two gold companies that Miller said "generate revenue for the Ortega-Murillo regime and the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs in Managua."

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