Free press accuses Daniel Ortega’s dictatorship of wanting to impose a reign of silence

September 17, 2018

On Saturday, Sept. 8, while reporters around the world were celebrating the International Day of Solidarity of Journalists, reporters, and directors of independent media organizations in Nicaragua stated that Daniel Ortega’s government is a “dictatorial regime” that considers “those fighting for freedom are enemies.”

The journalists spoke out at the end of a forum of independent journalists, where they also debated the state of the press in relation to the crisis provoked by state repression.

“The dictatorship wants to impose a reign of silence, so that you can only hear government’s voice and its wild version of the facts, especially concerning the events of the last five months,” the journalists stated.

Since last April, due to the violent repression against peaceful demonstrations, somewhere between 322 and 481 people have died, including a journalist from Bluefields, Ángel Gahona.

The International Day of Solidarity of Journalists is celebrated in honor of Julius Fucik, a Czech journalist arrested by the Gestapo and executed 75 years ago.

In Nicaragua, that day is commemorated in the midst of aggression against journalists. The panel consisted of Danilo Lacayo, from Canal 12, Wendy Quintero, Elízabeth Romero from La Prensa, Miguel Mora from 100 % Noticias, Mauricio Madrigal from Canal 10, and Patricia Orozco from Onda Local.

Watch the Tico Times’ video featuring Elízabeth Romero:

The third statement

Saturday’s statement was the third by independent journalists. The first one was read on May 9, and the other on July 28. Since the beginning, they condemned the massacre and asked that the right to inform be respected. Later they denounced the violent attacks against critical journalists and mentioned the specific cases of 100 % Noticias, as well as the burning of facilities of the official government stations, Radio Ya and Radio Nicaragua.

In June, while he read the position of the independent media, the director of La Prensa, Jaime Chamorro Cardenal – who signed the document – compared the current moment with the Somoza dictatorship.

“I believe what’s happening today is worse than what happened under [Anastasio] Somoza because he was fighting against armed people and now they’re fighting against children and teenagers, who are disarmed,” explained Chamorro Cardenal.

Constant assault

The new statement by journalists explained that during the months of crisis, started by the repression of the civil protests, media organizations have faced government harassment.

Because of the courage journalists demonstrated when reporting during the crisis, the Inter American Press Association (IAPA) recently presented the 2018 Press Freedom Grant Prize to Nicaragua’s independent journalists.

The statement on Sept. 8 claims that the attacks by Ortega’s government are “a blow to the freedom of the press” and a “blow the freedom of information for the people of Nicaragua.”

The forum of independent journalists denounced every single one of the attacks by Ortega’s dictatorship against the freedom of expression, the freedom of the press and the freedom of information.

The case involving the Acción 10 team was also presented. Mauricio Madrigal, the channel’s head of information said they “confronted the channel’s management, who, for the first days of protests, opted – because of its policy – to ignore news that was considered political.”

Canceled sit-in

Independent journalists decided not to conduct a sit-in in the Journalist’s Roundabout in Managua, which was occupied by government media.

These party militants were guarded by a strong contingent of police that stayed near the roundabout, close to the hotel where the independent journalists read their statement.


Read the original story in Spanish at La Prensa, first published on Sep. 8 2018.

This story was translated into English and republished in The Tico Times as part of a partnership with La Prensa to help bring their coverage of the Nicaraguan crisis to an English-speaking audience.

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