US imposes visa restrictions, other penalties on Nicaraguan government

By Thomson Reuters May 15, 2024 | 10:16 AM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States on Wednesday imposed visa restrictions on more than 250 members of the Nicaraguan government and levied sanctions on three Nicaraguan entities in retaliation for “repressive actions” by Managua related to migrant smuggling.

Senior Biden administration officials told reporters on a conference call that the sanctions included a Russian training center in Managua that enabled anti-democratic behavior and repression by Nicaragua’s government.

One of the officials said that the 250 Nicaraguan government officials subject to visa restrictions included police and paramilitary officials, prosecutors, judges and public higher education officials.

Increasingly migrants have been flying into Nicaragua and then heading north overland to the U.S.-Mexico border, and smugglers have promoted the route through social networks and human traffickers.

Many migrants have started their journeys in Brazil or other South American countries, but flying into Nicaragua avoids the often perilous journey through the jungle region known as the Darien Gap on the Colombia-Panama border.

The administration of President Joe Biden, a Democrat, has struggled with record numbers of migrant crossings at the U.S. – Mexico border and, as he runs for reelection in November, voters have increasingly said that immigration is a top concern.

Apprehensions on the border halved from December to March, according to U.S. government data, in part because of increased enforcement by Mexican authorities, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has said.

(Reporting By Steve Holland, Daphne Psaledakis and Mica Rosenberg; Editing by Caitlin Webber and Jonathan Oatis)