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Daniel Ortega in 2019. Photo: Carlos Becerra/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The U.S. State Department imposed visa restrictions Monday on 100 members of Nicaragua's National Assembly and judicial system, accusing them of being involved in human rights abuses, crackdowns on peaceful protest and in passing laws aimed at suppressing free speech.

Why it matters: The restrictions come amid escalating political tension in the Nicaragua. President Daniel Ortega’s government has detained 26 opposition figures in recent weeks, including several presidential candidates, and has also forced some critics to flee the country.

The big picture: The 100 Nicaraguans targeted in Monday's action include judges and prosecutors, as well as some of their family members, who are "responsible for, or complicit in, undermining democracy," per a State Department press release.

  • The action also revokes any outstanding U.S. visas those targeted may hold.

The statement details the alleged human rights abuses by the government, including arresting political opponents and activists, passing repressive laws, silencing independent media, and undermining the democratic process.

What they're saying: "These visa revocations demonstrate that the United States will promote accountability not only for regime leaders but also for officials who enable the regime’s assaults on democracy and human rights," the statement reads.

  • "The United States will continue to use the diplomatic and economic tools at our disposal to push for the release of political prisoners and to support Nicaraguans’ calls for greater freedom, accountability, and free and fair elections."

Go deeper

Oct 12, 2021 - Technology

Power shifts from Big Tech as digital crackdowns intensify

Expand chart
Data: Freedom House "Freedom of the Net 2021" report; Chart: Jacque Schrag/Axios

Internet freedom around the world has dropped for the 11th consecutive year, according to an annual report from Freedom House, a non-profit focused on expanding freedom and democracy.

Why it matters: The findings suggest that a broader shift in power from tech companies to nation states over the past year has resulted in "a record-breaking crackdown" on freedom of expression online.

"Atmospheric river" swings Northern California from drought to flood

Satellite view of the bomb cyclone swirling off the coast of the Pacific Northwest and the atmospheric river affecting California on Oct. 24. Photo: CIRA/RAMMB

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are delivering historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest.

Why it matters: The atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, was causing Northern California to whiplash from drought to flood, as it slowly moved south overnight. It's triggered widespread power outages, flooding and mudslides.

In photos: Drought-ravaged California lashed by major storm

Workers try to divert water into drains as rain pours down on Oct. 24 in Marin City, California. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

A major storm system was pummeling Northern California and parts of the Pacific Northwest with heavy rains overnight.

The big picture: "Atmospheric river" storms, associated with a record-strong "bomb cyclone" offshore from the Pacific Northwest, have brought flooding and mudslides to parts of California that were razed by recent wildfires and in severe drought. It's also caused widespread power outages in California and Washington state.