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Local Leaders Banned From Nicaragua Over Venezuela Sanctions

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) -- Nicaragua's president is banning U.S. Senator Marco Rubio and Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen from the country in protest of sanctions against Venezuela.

According to our news partners the Miami Herald, the President Daniel Ortega  told The Tico Times during a meeting with Venezuelan officials.

Rubio and Ros-Lehtinen helped pass the legislation this week in Congress.

Over twitter, Rubio mocked Ortega's decision by saying, "Oh no! My summer vacation plans are ruined!"

"It's a badge of honor to be banned by a thug like Ortega. These authoritarian heads of state like Ortega, Maduro and the Castro brothers like to intimidate those who disagree with them and they use their power randomly and ruthlessly," Ros-Lehtinen told the paper.

The sanctions are aimed at Venezuelan officials and proxies mainly involved with violently suppressing pro-democracy activists in the country. As part of the legislation, the officials would be banned from traveling or staying in the U.S. and would freeze their U.S. assets.

A spokesperson for the Obama administration has said the president plans to sign the legislation.

While Venezuelan officials and proxies would be affected by this, the legislation Ortega is protesting does not mention Nicaragua. But the country has received $3 billion in aid from Venezuela since the Sandinista government returned to power in 2007.

Venezuela is a major ally of the Cuban government. A group which Cuban American legislators Ros-lehtinen and Rubio have openly opposed.

"I'm not worried about being banned in Nicaragua. What frightens me is the erosion of fundamental human rights throughout our hemisphere," Ros-Lehtinen told the paper.

Miami legislators said the sanctions would especially affect South Florida where much of Venezuela's elite travel to and own homes in.

"With these sanctions, we can end the days of Venezuelan regime officials and thugs repressing innocent Venezuelans in their day jobs and then coming to Florida to live in the lap of luxury and splurge Venezuela's wealth," said Rubio in a written statement on Wednesday."This is the first step to address human rights violations in Venezuela, and it will be a blow to the hypocrites in Nicolás Maduro's regime who talk a lot about socialist sacrifice but who themselves are immune from its failures and live in a fantasy world of gold-plated iPads and fancy cars, even though most Venezuelans can't even find basic necessities like food and toilet paper."

According to the paper, Ortega's decision has a political upside for Rubio in the U.S. as he considers running for president in a possibly crowded Republican primary.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald contributed material for this report.)



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