September 25, 2022

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U.S. Action Against Corruption and Attacks on Democracy in Nicaragua

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Ned Price, Department Spokesperson

The U.S. government is deeply concerned by the injustice and lack of transparency on display at the trials of political prisoners in Nicaragua. We remain committed to supporting the people of Nicaragua by fighting corruption and promoting democracy, the rule of law, and accountability, which are keys to a brighter future.  To advance this priority, today we add nine Nicaraguans to the United States’ Corrupt and Undemocratic Actors list, under Section 353 of the United States–Northern Triangle Enhanced Engagement Act, as amended. The Act generally makes the listed individuals ineligible for visas and admission to the United States.  The Reinforcing Nicaragua’s Adherence to Conditions for Electoral Reform Act of 2021 (RENACER) Act, passed with broad bipartisan support and signed by President Biden on November 10, 2021, expanded the Corrupt and Undemocratic Actors list to include Nicaragua.

The State Department adds the following nine Nicaraguan government officials to the list for undermining the democratic processes or institutions of Nicaragua:

  • Cairo Melvin Amador, current Vice President of the Supreme Electoral Council (CSE), Lumberto Ignacio Campbell Hooker, current CSE member and Acting CSE President from 2018 until May 2021, and Brenda Isabel Rocha Chacon, current CSE President, for conspiring with the Ortega-Murillo regime to undermine Nicaragua’s political institutions and subvert the November 2021 national election by disqualifying legitimate opposition parties and candidates on spurious grounds.
  • Edwin Ramon Castro Rivera, member of the Nicaraguan National Assembly since 1997 and head of the FSLN caucus since 2007, for ensuring Ortega-Murillo loyalists won all magistrate positions in the CSE and ensuring the passage of extremely broad legislation that the Ortega-Murillo regime used to exclude opposition candidates and parties and harass and jail political opponents.
  • Karen Vanessa Chavarria Morales, current judge in the ninth district in Managua, for abusing her authority and subverting legal processes to act against political opponents of the Ortega-Murillo regime and disqualify opposition candidates from the November 2021 election.
  • Walmaro Antonio Gutierrez Mercado, current member of the Nicaraguan National Assembly, Carlos Wilfredo Navarro Moreira, current member of the Nicaraguan National Assembly, and Gustavo Eduardo Porras Cortes, current President of the Nicaraguan National Assembly for giving the Ortega-Murillo regime the tools to conduct its brazen assault on democracy by stacking the CSE with FSLN members loyal to Ortega.
  • Maria Haydee Osuna Ruiz, current member of the Nicaraguan National Assembly, for conspiring with the Ortega-Murillo regime to subvert the November 2021 Nicaraguan national elections by signing a spurious complaint that served as pretext for the government to disqualify the last remaining legitimate opposition party and hound its leader into exile.

We will continue to use all tools at our disposal to promote accountability for corruption and other attacks on the security, stability, and democratic aspirations of the people of Central America.  We are standing with the people of Nicaragua as they strive to restore democratic institutions, select their leaders in free and fair elections, and create the futures they desire for themselves and their families.

More from: Ned Price, Department Spokesperson

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