US Imposes Sanctions on Nicaraguan Officials for Human Rights Violations

Ortega's brother joins calls for early elections in Nicaragua

Ortega's brother joins calls for early elections in Nicaragua

According to U.S. Department of State and Treasury officials, the three Nicaraguans are accused of human rights abuses, corruption and ordering attacks on peaceful protesters.

The three officials sanctioned are Francisco Javier Diaz Madriz, Nicaragua's police commissioner; Fidel Antonio Moreno Briones, the secretary of the Managua mayor's office; and Jose Francisco Lopez Centeno, president of the state-owned oil company Petronic and vice-president of Albanisa, a private company that imports and sells Venezuelan petroleum products.

The United States on Friday ordered all of its non-emergency personnel to leave crisis-stricken Nicaragua amid a wave of anti-government protests and violence that has left 230 dead, the embassy in the capital Managua said.

Under the sanctions, assets belonging to the officials in the United States are blocked and US citizens are prohibited from engaging in transactions with them or entities they own or control, the Treasury said in a statement.

Ortega made public his proposals contained in a letter to a Catholic Church-mediated national dialogue between government and opposition, meeting in a bid to end anti-Ortega protests and government repression that have wracked the Central American country since April 18.

Additionally, U.S. citizens were prohibited from engaging in transactions with the individuals, "including entities 50 percent or more owned by them".

The State Department said it would hold those responsible for the violence and intimidation campaign accountable. Several demonstrators were wounded, human rights activists said.

Retired general Humberto Ortega was army chief from 1980-94, when he was retired by then president Violeta de Chamorro, who was in power until 1997.

Another rights group, the Nicaraguan Association for Human Rights, on Tuesday put its latest toll in two-and-a-half-months of violence at 309, with more than 1,500 injured.

Also Wednesday, former President Enrique Bolanos re-iterated his call for Mr. Ortega to step down. "If you are a true patriot resign and this country will thank you for it", said Bolaños.

"The Nicaraguan government's violent response has included beating of journalists, attacks against local TV and radio stations and assaults on mothers mourning the deaths of their children", another senior administration official said on Thursday.

The sanctions mean any assets the three men have in the United States will be frozen, and US citizens are barred from business transactions with them or any companies in which they have 50% or more ownership.

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