United States penalizes Nicaraguan gold exports

Rosario Murillo and Daniel Ortega, the couple in power in Nicaragua, during a visit to Russia in 2008.
Rosario Murillo and Daniel Ortega, the couple in power in Nicaragua, during a visit to Russia in 2008.Misha Zapridze (Associated Press)

The United States Treasury Department has implemented a surgical sanction for the regimes of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo: this Friday it punished the Nicaragua Mining Company (Animinus) and its gold exports. The chairman of its board of directors, Ruy López Delgado, was also approved. After the company was created in 2017 to strengthen official control over the mining sector and make concessions, the sale of gold is the one that leaves the most dividends for the presidential environment.

According to the statement issued by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), the Ortega-Murillo regime “uses the gold revenue to continue persecution of the Nicaraguan people and to participate in activities that represent a threat to the security of the hemisphere”. ” “They are deepening their ties with Russia as it waging war against Ukraine,” the document said. The regular entry of Russian troops into Nicaragua, approved by the National Assembly two days ago, has further strained relations between the Ortega government and Joe Biden.

Despite sanctions, Ortega continues to challenge Washington: This Friday, Nicaraguan Foreign Minister Denis Moncada visited Russia. “High-level delegations from Nicaragua and Russia met in St Petersburg, where they highlighted the strategic nature of the relationship between the two countries and the importance of ‘strengthening bilateral cooperation’,” the official propaganda reported.

Treasury Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson argued that as the Ortega-Murillo regime “engages with Russia and continues to fill its coffers with significant revenues exploited from Nicaragua’s gold fields, it has turned its back on the Nicaraguan people. The President is neglecting his means of subsistence for the benefit of the Board.”

Enrique Sainz, an economist, former deputy and political analyst living in exile in Costa Rica, said: “The authoritarian approval of the mining business hurt them the most: their sources of accumulation of millions of dollars.” PAS “Within a few years, gold became the country’s main export product and it is an open secret that foreign companies make profits in connivance.”

After the creation of Eniminas in 2017, the government has greater control over the regulation of gold mining. The issuance of land concessions to national and foreign companies has grown rapidly in recent years, while Animinas has several joint ventures with private capital.

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Eniminas has provided 1.5 million hectares for mining concessions in Nicaragua. A month after the company’s creation, the amount of land under sanctioned or requested concessions doubled: from 1.2 million to 2.6 million hectares, according to a study by the Oakland Institute, an environmental think tank that has intensively studied mining companies in Nicaragua. . About 853,800 hectares of this land is located in the buffer zone of the Bosavas Ecological Reserve, where indigenous peoples are displaced by evacuation activities.

If Caliber Mining manages to bring its exports to $1,000 million at the hands of Hemco Nicaragua, Plantell Los Angeles and Maco Mining, the gold mining sector could reach a significant milestone in this 2022. Official figures detail that Nicaragua’s gold exports to the United States increased by 30% in 2021, totaling more than $744 million. They contributed 79 per cent of the total gold exports from the country during the year.

money for government

OFAC notes that high-ranking members of the Ortega-Murillo government have benefited greatly from increased gold exports in recent years. This is due in large part to the “large role” that Animinas has played in benefiting private sector partners and bribing members of the regime.

In the case of Ruy López Delgado, OFAC states that he was “approved to serve as the chairman of the Board of Directors of Eniminas” or “to serve as an officer” at any time after January 10, 2007. In 2018, Washington approved Francisco chico López is, among other positions, one of Ortega’s most important individuals to own Animinas. In 2022, Ramon Calderón Vindel, a retired Major General of the Nicaraguan Army, was also appointed by the Treasury to hold the same position.

The sanctions against Eniminas will have an immediate effect on the Company’s operations: all property and interests in the property of these individuals that are in the United States or in the possession or control of American persons are blocked and must be reported to OFAC. Any entity which is owned, directly or indirectly, by one or more such persons 50% or more in aggregate is also blocked.

The U.S. Treasury statement states, “These restrictions include any contribution or provision of money, goods or services for or for the benefit of any blocked person, and any contribution or receipt of provision of money, goods or services.” “

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