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Swiss extend sanctions on Nicaraguan officials

Switzerland has imposed sanctions on eight more top Nicaraguan officials, including vice-president Rosario Maria Murillo Zambrana – in line with a decision by the European Union.

The move comes at a time of international isolation of President Daniel Ortega’s government, which has been criticised for crackdowns against his opponents and critical media in the Central American country he has dominated since returning to power 15 years ago.

In all, eight people have been added Switzerland’s sanctions list, just as the EU did on July 30, 2021. This includes Murillo, who is also President Ortega’s wife, and their son Juan Carlos Ortega Murillo, the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) indicated on Friday.

Switzerland already followed the EU in imposing sanctions on six individuals in the central American country in June 2020, all of them with ties to President Ortega.

Swiss and EU concerns

“The reason behind that decision was that Switzerland shared the EU’s concerns about ongoing violations of human rights democracy and the rule of law in Nicaragua,” a SECO spokeswoman told SWI swissinfo.ch via email.

“These reasons still apply today. This is why Switzerland is aligning itself also with the most recent modification of the EU sanctions list.”

The financial and travel sanctions will come into force at 6pm Swiss time on Friday, SECO said.

Mother and son

Murillo, also leader of the Sandinista Youth, was instrumental in encouraging and justifying a police crackdown on the opposition in 2018, SECO said in a document on the sanctions. She also threatened the opposition and discredited independent journalists in July of this year.

As for Ortega Murillo, he runs Canal 8, one of the country’s main television stations, and is the leader of the 4th of May Sandinista movement. His position has contributed to the restriction of freedom of expression and of the press, according to SECO.

The other people targeted are high up in the country’s political, judicial or police sectors.

“The adopted measures target specifically designated individuals and are not directed against the people of Nicaragua as a whole. Therefore, they have no impact on the civilian population in Nicaragua,” stressed the SECO spokeswoman.