BRUSSELS -The European Union said on Monday it has imposed sanctions on eight Nicaraguans for human rights violations or undermining democracy or the rule of law, including Rosario Murillo, the vice president and wife of President Daniel Ortega.
The step adds to growing international isolation of Ortega’s government, which has been criticized for crackdowns against his opponents and critical media in the Central American country he has dominated since returning to power 15 years ago.
The Council of the EU said the sanctions, which include an asset freeze and a travel ban that impedes the eight from entering or transiting through EU territories, took to 14 the number of Nicaraguans restricted by the bloc.
“The political situation in Nicaragua has further deteriorated in recent months,” the Council said in a statement.
“The political use of the judicial system, the exclusion of candidates from the elections and the arbitrary delisting of opposition parties are contrary to basic democratic principles and constitute a serious violation of the rights of the Nicaraguan people.”
The EU move follows sanctions by the United States on senior officials in Nicaragua and other members of Ortega’s family.
His government has arrested several political adversaries, including presidential hopefuls, ahead of a November election in which Ortega, a former Marxist guerrilla and Cold War antagonist of Washington, will run for a fourth consecutive term.
The Council of the EU said the detention in July of a seventh potential presidential candidate “illustrates the magnitude of the repression in Nicaragua and projects a grim picture for the upcoming elections.”