United States calls on Ortega to release political prisoners

AP: Biden targets Nicaraguan gold in new move against Ortega

Julia Ainsworth

3 Min Read

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The top U.S. diplomat for Central America, Elliot Abrams, said on Thursday the United States was “very concerned about” the situation in Nicaragua, describing the country’s president Daniel Ortega as a dictator who has been a “danger to peace and stability” around the world.

“We are very concerned about how Daniel Ortega, who has been elected president in 2010 and is in power ever since, is continuing to try to undermine democracy in Nicaragua,” Abrams told a news briefing. “We are concerned about the level of support, particularly financial support, that he is getting from Russia, Iran and China, and also from some Latin American countries in his attempts to subvert democracy in Nicaragua.”

Ortega and his allies say they are determined to defend Nicaraguan democracy and have said they will not bow to international pressure to step down.

The United States, which does not recognize Ortega, has for over three decades provided financial and diplomatic backing to the Sandinista government and has criticized China’s economic, financial and diplomatic ties to the country. The United States has also supported the election of El Salvador’s conservative conservative governments in 2012 and 2016.

In the latest move, the United States has said it will use “every tool and every means” under the law to ensure that Ortega’s government does not take over the country, which is home to a population of about five million.

The United States has no troops on Nicaraguan soil and has provided political and military support to the Nicaraguan government since 1975, when the United States and then the Soviet Union overthrew the leftist Sandinistas.

“Our partners have their own interests in this region and their own priorities,” Abrams said of China and Latin American countries.

The United States has also been vocal in calling for the release of jailed human rights activists and journalists, and for the release of Nicaraguan political prisoners as the United States says Ortega is running a one-party state.

In a statement earlier this week, the White House called on Ortega to end the political persecution of the country’s political prisoners and “immediately release” them. The White

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