Sanctions

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As Venezuela grabs headlines, Nicaragua sinks further into dictatorship

Nicaraguans demonstrate outside the Nicaraguan Embassy in San Jose, Costa Rica on January 12, 2019, to protest against the arrest of opposition journalists.
Nicaraguans demonstrate outside the Nicaraguan Embassy in San Jose, Costa Rica, on Jan. 12, to protest the arrest of opposition journalists. Photo: Ezequiel Becerra/AFP via Getty Images

With Venezuela's political and humanitarian catastrophe back on the international radar, the crisis in Nicaragua continues to fester, largely unnoticed.

Why it matters: In December, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights accused the Nicaraguan government of committing crimes against humanity when it crushed protests demanding the ouster of President Daniel Ortega. In absolute terms, the repression's 2018 death toll — at least 300 — is comparable to that of Venezuela, but relative to Nicaragua's much smaller population, it ranks as one of the worst human rights crises Latin America has seen in decades.

Venezuela opposition wants access to $3.2B held in U.S. bank accounts

President of Venezuela's National Assembly and interim president, Juan Guaido.
Leader of Venezuela's National Assembly and interim president, Juan Guaido. Photo: Federico Parra/AFP/Getty Images

Venezuela’s National Assembly, controlled by the opposition party, is seeking access to the $3.2 billion of funds it said are being held in U.S. bank accounts from embattled President Nicolas Maduro’s government and has asked 152 banks in the Western Hemisphere, Europe and Asia to freeze government accounts, Bloomberg reports.

Why it matters: Opposition leader Juan Guaidó, whom the U.S. and several countries recognized as the country's interim president, has been leveraging his support from foreign governments to help identify and freeze Venezuela's bank accounts and other assets. Earlier this month, the Bank of England blocked Maduro's request to withdraw about $1.2 billion worth of gold, days after the U.S. government sanctioned Venezuela's state-owned oil company, PDVSA.

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