Ortega's Brother Asks Him to Disband Armed Groups and Call Elections

U.S. slaps economic sanctions on three top Nicaraguan officials

U.S. slaps economic sanctions on three top Nicaraguan officials

"The violence perpetrated by the government of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega against the Nicaraguan people and the efforts of those close to the Ortega regime to illicitly enrich themselves is deeply disturbing and completely unacceptable", said Sigal Mandelker, Treasury undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence.

"President Daniel Ortega should immediately use all the power of order of the State and Government to deactivate the parapolice and any other illegal forces", the former military chief said in his letter addressed to the Government, the opposition Civic Alliance and the Catholic Episcopal Conference, mediator in the now suspended National Dialogue.

Three high-profile Nicaraguans have been sanctioned under the Magnitsky Act, Trump administration officials announced Thursday, as Washington increases pressure on the Central American country recently rocked by major anti-government protests that have left more than 250 dead.

Officials who briefed reporters on the new sanctions suggested more actions are likely if the violence in Nicaragua continues, and they called on the government to accept calls for early elections and to embrace ongoing negotiations mediated by the Catholic Church.

The retired general also proposed to move up the 2021 elections to 2019, to reach "a peaceful solution to the tragic crisis we are suffering". "By constitutionally moving up presidential elections to the coming year, he says yes to peace".

Police and paramilitary forces also took up positions inside a cultural centre, La Trinidad's town hall and surrounded the town hospital, said Merling Solis, a delegate of the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights in the area.

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Foreign Minister Denis Moncada told the talks that the government is willing to listen to the opposition, but demanded that the barricades be lifted first.

The Nicaraguan government denied that its police officers were responsible for the incident and blamed "right-wing, masked delinquents" for the deaths.

The 72-year-old president has remained silent on an earlier proposal by the influential Catholic hierarchy to bring forward the elections to March next year.

The sanctioned individuals include Nicaragua's National Police commander, Francisco Javier Diaz Madriz, who is alleged to have engaged in serious human rights abuses and Fidel Antonio Moreno Briones, who has directed the Sandinista Youth and pro-government armed groups to violently crackdown on protesters.

In the rebel city of Masaya, 30 kilometers south of Managua, the home of local anti-government protest leader Yubrank Suazo was burned down at dawn.

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