Editorial offices are evacuated, radio programmes are put on government course and newspapers are refused delivery of printing paper: in Nicaragua journalists critical of the government are coming under increasing pressure. The few independent media are one of the last bastions of resistance against the regime.
“Faced with extreme threats, I had to make the painful decision to go into exile to secure my physical integrity and freedom. And above all to continue independent journalism from Costa Rica, where I am today,” said Carlos Fernando Chamorro, editor of Confidencial, Nicaragua’s most critical Internet newspaper, a week ago.
In a night and fog operation, heavily armed police occupied the premises of the editorial office and the associated television programme “Esta Semana” and confiscated the property. Legal appeals have remained unsuccessful to this day. There is also no official justification.
But the background is clear: the Ortega/Murillo regime wanted to eliminate two media from national public television because they had documented countless cases of corruption, nepotism, wastefulness, censorship and the bloody repression of the demonstrations with hundreds of victims. “Confidencial” and “Esta Semana” broadcast on the Internet, via Youtube and Facebook.
Only two critical TV channels left
However, they are not the only examples of the independent press that had to disappear from the television system. Luis Carlos Kliche Navas of the aid organisation “Nicaragua-Alemania”:
“Of the 15 or so public TV channels, only two still hold a critical position, after ‘100% Noticias’ were closed last month and the director and his deputy arrested. The vast majority are private broadcasters. They are close to or owned by the Ortega/Murillo family and run by their sons. Numerous regional radio programmes have been put on government course. Opposition newspapers such as La Prensa are denied delivery of the printing paper stored there by customs.”
And that for 22 weeks. The customs administration rejects any declaration, and legal countermeasures are also ineffective.
Opposition newspaper “La Prensa” under pressure
“La Prensa” is one of the most traditional daily newspapers in the country. It recently appeared with a white title page in protest. The volume also had to be reduced in order to ensure distribution. The newspaper belongs to the influential family of Carlos Fernando Chamorro. His father fought as editor against the Somoza dictatorship in the 1970s and was therefore murdered. Today his son has to flee from the dictatorship of the former revolutionary Ortega.
“Since Thursday morning journalists from ‘Canal 12’ have reported in the social media that around 30 police officers have occupied the main entrance. We now stand in front of it and see that they are recording the personal details of every employee. They are currently searching a car in which a journalist and a cameraman have arrived. The press officer told us that she didn’t know why the police had occupied the canal.”
This happened last week – for three days. “Canal 10” reported about it. It was a punitive action, because “Canal 12” had taken over Chamorro’s TV program “Esta Semana” at short notice, after the regime had quasi expropriated him.
Journalists flee to Costa Rica
The few independent media are one of the last bastions of public resistance against the regime. That is why they are constantly subjected to harassment, bought up by Ortega’s sons or simply closed down. The work has thus become dangerous for critical journalists. One of them wrote on the Internet:
“I am always afraid. Some colleagues have been arrested, about 60 live in exile. And that’s what the regime wants. We should no longer report on what is happening in the country. Despite the fear, we continue to work. Because it is not just us who live in a climate of complete insecurity.”
Many of the journalists have fled to neighbouring Costa Rica – like tens of thousands of Nicaraguans – and are trying to provide counter-information from there. Carlos Fernando Chamorro’s confession is valid for all of them: “I am here so that they won’t silence me”.
Nicaragua is a country in Central America and connects the Pacific with the Caribbean Sea. The country has a total area of 130,370 km² and a total coastline of 910 km. This area is about 36% of the size of Germany. Nicaragua is thus the . largest country in America and ranked 98th worldwide. With 48 inhabitants per km² it is also the most sparsely populated country in America.
The country has 32 islands. Direct national borders exist to the 2 neighbouring states Costa Rica and Honduras. The distance between Berlin and the capital Managua is about 9,590 km.
Nicaragua has a tropical climate like all countries close to the equator. There is no difference between the seasons as here in Central Europe. The length of the day hardly fluctuates and the temperature differences between summer and winter are also smaller. The average daily maximum temperatures are between 33 and 37 degrees, depending on the season. In the colder months, the temperature drops to an average of 20°C at night, depending on the region.