International condemnation of the human rights violations under President Danny Ortega’s authoritarian administration has been, at best, tepid and symbolic. With the death toll rising, The White House surprised the media yesterday with the announcement that it’s confiscated vehicles from Nicaragua’s security forces and levied a moratorium on future donations and sales of security equipment. Hopefully, these actions from Washington are enough to deter Danny Ortega from continuing down this path.
” The United States until recently had worked to train and equip Nicaraguan security forces. In a region known for corrupt, poorly trained police, the Nicaraguan force was seen as one of the better ones.
Now in addition to cutting off access to vehicles to the police, the administration said it would funnel another $1.5 million to “freedom and democracy” groups as a “critical lifeline” to the Nicaraguan opposition movement arrayed against Ortega
Though slow to emerge, the White House criticism of Nicaragua now mirrors its policy toward Venezuela and largely comes out of the playbook of conservative Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a hawk on Latin America.
“The administration has invested so much in attempting to shape events in Venezuela, it can’t be silent when it comes to Nicaragua,” said Daniel Erikson, who was a White House advisor on Latin America in the Obama administration.
As it did with Venezuela, where the government is also accused of massive corruption and egregious human rights abuse, the Trump administration has sanctioned several Nicaraguan officials close to Ortega, restricted visas, ratcheted up rhetoric and called for regional pressure on Managua from the Organization of American States and other countries.
“Finally, outside pressure is beginning to appear after a delay by both the United States and the OAS,” said Michael Shifter, president of the Washington-based Inter-American Dialogue and a veteran expert on the region. “Both were quite slow to react.” “
This article originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times