Irregularities in Nicaragua's recent elections after which President Daniel Ortega is to stay in office for yet another term while all of his political opponents are either in jail or exile have led the administration of US President Joseph Biden to take action.
They force us to act, said Biden as he banned Ortega and all of his Government officials from entering the United States after the White House described the local elections as rigged in favour of the Sandinista leader.
The travel ban applied to all of Nicaragua's elected officials, apparently including Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, as well as members of the security forces, judges, mayors, and others who are seen as undermining democracy in the Central American country.
Biden's Executive Order targets the Ortegas with, particularly harsh expressions.
The repressive and abusive acts of the Ortega government and its supporters force the United States to act, Biden said in the decree, signed a day after the United States, Britain and Canada imposed specific sanctions on Nicaraguan officials in a concerted response to the Nov. 7 elections, which many countries have called a sham.
Biden said that he had determined that it was in the interest of the United States to prohibit entry to all those who formulate, implement or benefit from policies or actions that undermine or damage democratic institutions or prevent the return to democracy in Nicaragua.
The US Government's measure is also aimed at keeping the Central American country off-limits to international financial institutions.
Biden said the Nicaraguan regime abuses people to promote the authoritarian agenda of the Ortega government, while municipal officials directed violence against pro-democracy protesters.
The US head of state also accused Nicaragua's judiciary of “aiding and inciting” politically motivated arrests.
Ortega's re-election to a fourth consecutive term came after jailing political rivals and cracking down on critical media. The former Sandinista guerrilla who once toppled dictator Anastasio Somoza has derided his US critics as Yankee imperialists and accused them of trying to undermine Nicaragua's electoral process. Cuba, Venezuela and Russia have offered Ortega their backing.
Previous sanctions and travel bans on certain Nicaraguan officials imposed by Biden and his predecessor, Donald Trump, have failed to deter Ortega, and many analysts are sceptical whether new measures will have much impact.
The Organization of American States (OAS) adopted a resolution on Friday saying Nicaragua's election lacked democratic legitimacy. Twenty-five nations voted in favour and seven abstained, including Mexico, Honduras and Bolivia.