Holding the Nicaraguan Regime Accountable
JUNE 17, 2022
The Ortega-Murillo regime for years has chipped away at Nicaragua’s democratic institutions and, along with a small circle of enablers, has allowed corruption and impunity to reign. Nicaragua is increasingly deepening its relationship with Russia as it turns its back on the Nicaraguan people.
Today, the United States took additional actions to promote accountability for the Ortega-Murillo regime’s attacks on civil liberties and democracy. The Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control imposed sanctions on Nicaraguan state-owned mining company ENIMINAS and the president of its board of directors, Ruy Delgado Lopez. The Nicaraguan National Assembly’s 2017 creation of ENIMINAS increased the government’s involvement in the mining sector, notably gold mining. The Ortega-Murillo regime promotes the gold mining industry, driving profits to its allies in the private sector and increasing ENIMINAS revenues that are managed by senior figures in the ruling party. As the Ortega-Murillo regime continues to isolate itself by repressing Nicaragua’s democracy and Nicaraguans’ human rights, it finds itself moving closer to other authoritarian nations like Russia.
On November 7, 2021, following months of repression and the imprisonment of more than 40 democratic leaders, including seven potential presidential candidates, opposition members, journalists, students and members of civil society, the Ortega-Murillo regime stole an election that denied Nicaraguans their ability to choose their own government. By declaring victory after the fraudulent election, the regime entrenched itself in power and established a dynastic dictatorship similar to the Somoza regime, which the Sandinistas overthrew more than 40 years ago. In the months that have followed, the Ortega-Murillo regime has closed over 500 non-governmental organizations and universities and refused to release the more than 180 political prisoners who remain unjustly detained.
With these new sanctions, the United States adds its voice to the international condemnation of the Ortega-Murillo regime’s malign behavior. The United States joins the regional calls for a return to democracy in Nicaragua and will continue to use the diplomatic and economic tools available to us to promote accountability for the Ortega-Murillo regime. We call again for the immediate and unconditional release of political prisoners.
Treasury Sanctions Nicaraguan State Mining Company
June 17, 2022
WASHINGTON — Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated the state-owned Nicaraguan mining company Empresa Nicaraguense de Minas (ENIMINAS) as well as one official of the Government of Nicaragua pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13851.
The Ortega-Murillo regime rigged last November’s Nicaraguan presidential election through the arbitrary imprisonment of the political opposition, the blocking of political parties, the shuttering of independent media, and the bullying of civil society. They are deepening their relationship with Russia as it wages war against Ukraine, while using gold revenue to continue to oppress the people of Nicaragua and engage in activities that pose a threat to the security of the hemisphere. The U.S. will continue to use all tools available to promote accountability and compliance with international norms from the Ortega-Murillo regime.
“As the Ortega-Murillo regime increasingly engages Russia and continues lining its coffers with significant revenue exploited from the Nicaraguan gold sector, the regime has turned its back on the Nicaraguan people, neglecting their livelihoods for regime gains,” said Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson. “The United States continues to stand with the Nicaraguan people against the unjust imprisonment of political opponents and the sustained assault on Nicaragua’s democracy by the Ortega-Murillo regime.”
STATE-RUN GOLD MINING
In 2017, the Government of Nicaragua created state-owned ENIMINAS to solidify its control over Nicaragua’s mining sector. One of the functions of the company is to regulate gold mining through the issuance of land concessions to domestic and foreign companies, which feature several joint ventures with private firms. High-ranking members of the Ortega-Murillo regime have benefitted greatly from Nicaragua’s increase in gold exports in recent years, due in large part to the outsized role ENIMINAS has played in funneling profits to private sector partners and kickbacks to regime insiders. Nicaragua’s gold exports have increased dramatically in recent years. In 2021, gold exports from Nicaragua to the United States increased by thirty percent, totaling over $744 million. These exports accounted for seventy nine percent of all Nicaraguan gold exports during the year.
OFAC designated ENIMINAS pursuant to E.O. 13851 for being owned or controlled by, or for acting or purporting to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, Ruy Lopez Delgado. Concurrent with this action, OFAC issued Nicaragua General License (GL) 3, which provides a time-limited authorization allowing U.S. persons to wind down transactions involving ENIMINAS. OFAC also issued associated guidance noting that foreign persons do not risk sanctions for engaging in activities authorized by GL 3.
Ruy Lopez Delgado (Delgado) is the president of the board of directors of state-owned ENIMINAS, and is being designated, pursuant to E.O. 13851, for being an official of the Government of Nicaragua or having served as an official of the Government of Nicaragua at any time on or after January 10, 2007. The Department of the Treasury has previously designated two other individuals who held this same position, Ramon Humberto Calderon Vindell in January of 2022 and Francisco Lopez Centeno in July of 2018.
Delgado is being designated for being an official of the Government of Nicaragua or for having served as an official of the Government of Nicaragua at any time on or after January 10, 2007. ENIMINAS is being designated for being owned or controlled by, or having acted or purporting to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, Delgado.
As a result of today’s action, all property and interests in property of these persons that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons are blocked and must be reported to OFAC. In addition, any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more in the aggregate by one or more of such persons are also blocked. All transactions by U.S. persons or within (or transiting) the United States that involve any property or interests in property of blocked or designated persons are prohibited, unless authorized by a general or specific license issued by OFAC, or otherwise exempt. These prohibitions include the making of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services by, to, or for the benefit of any blocked person and the receipt of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services from any such person.
The power and integrity of OFAC sanctions derive not only from its ability to designate and add persons to the SDN List, but also from its willingness to remove persons from the SDN List consistent with the law. The ultimate goal of sanctions is not to punish, but to bring about a positive change in behavior. For information concerning the process for seeking removal from an OFAC list, including the SDN List, please refer to OFAC’s Frequently Asked Question 897. For detailed information on the process to submit a request for removal from an OFAC sanctions list.