In this period there has been an increased and more extended policy in the government of secrecy and absolute discrimination towards independent media, whose journalists are not invited to press conferences and other activities, or if they are invited the are not allowed to enter government offices. This arbitrary attitude worsened during the recent election of autonomous regional authorities on the Caribbean coast, held amid complaints by the opposition of fraud, worsening the political polarization, official reports on which the Supreme Electoral Council withheld from La Prensa, El Nuevo Diario and other independent media and journalists. The censorship that the government and other state bodies are imposing against freedom of information, expression and the press, was extended on March 9 and 10 with the blocking of coverage of announcement of preliminary results of the regional elections, and even of a conference on the first day of vaccination against swine flu in the country. Supreme Electoral Council Chairman Roberto Rivas Reyes ordered reporters from La Prensa, El Nuevo Diario and Canal 2 television not to be allowed to enter the National Vote-Counting Center, even though they were duly accredited. To justify this censorship that he imposed Rivas said that there were news media that “destroy families” and that “there are no voices raised against such injustices.” As he was reading the elections results Rivas became more dramatic, spouting his anti-media views, in response to the fact that in the last eight years his name has been appearing on newspaper front pages with exposures of his scandals, the latest reported by La Nación of Costa Rica, where Rivas spends much of his time. But he has never seemed to be perturbed, not talking about what he regarded as his “private life.” “We do not believe that anyone who has boycotted this electoral process in Nicaragua and has dedicated himself to making prior analyses of an alleged fraud would have any interest in learning how the process developed,” Rivas asserted. The following day the Health Ministry held a press conference together with officials of the United States Embassy to give details about the day of vaccination against the virus in the world pandemic, which from its appearance in April last year to December had cost the lives of 11 people. The La Prensa reporting team was denied entry “on higher orders.” The government continues to try to strangle the independent media, discriminating against them in placement of official advertising, intimidating reporters, editors, executives and owners of media with constant verbal attacks, threats and discrediting remarks; it sets up forums of paid journalists to defame democratic and independent news men and women. The government is continuing to expand its own news media using not very clear methods. All this added to the economic and financial crisis that has brought a falloff in commercial advertising, resulting in a general loss of quality in news coverage and worsening the overall state of press freedom. On December 2, 2009 President Ortega threatened La Prensa, accusing it of fostering a “policy of terrorism” by leading a campaign against adoption of a tax reform. This reform would substitute for European cooperation funds that were withdrawn because of fraud in the November 2008 municipal elections. On the anniversary of those fraudulent elections shock troops of the governing Sandinista (Ortegista) Front hurled rocks and explosives at the buildings of La Prensa and another newspaper, Hoy. In another development, the Revenue Department (DGI) is delaying tax exemption for the media to which they are still entitled, citing Law 528 (Arce Law). This piece of legislation – has been questioned in several claims as being unconstitutional filed with the Supreme Court since July 2005 by representatives of a number of news media, on the pretext of actually regulating the reform of the constitutional mandate that waives taxes on the media. That is to say that even in enforcing the unconstitutional law, the government is not obeying it. The Supreme Court has yet to rule, now nearly eight years later, on the claim presented on April 4, 2002 that the Law Creating the Journalists Guild is unconstitutional. The most important case in this period has been the obscure purchase of the privately-owned television channel Telenica Canal 8. The transaction was carried out in absolute and suspicious mystery and it was finally learned that the new owners are linked to the family or power base of President Ortega. Thus there continues the trend of the governing family taking over news media and at the same time limiting freedom of information. On this television channel prominent independent journalist Carlos F. Chamorro hosted two investigative programs that were critical of government policies – “Esta Semana” (This Week) and “Esta Noche” (Tonight), which were cancelled by Chamorro himself, who said it was for reasons of ethics and principle. The two programs reappeared a month later on Canal 12 television. La Prensa News Editor Eduardo Enríquez has now spent seven months waiting for action on his request for a new I.D. card to replace the one that had been stolen. The process takes a maximum of 15 days and Enríquez has written several letters to various officials which have not even been answered. To illustrate this situation we would point out that without an I.D. card one cannot buy, sell or seek work, nor even cash a check. Enríquez has been accused by the Electoral Council chairman of harassing him with investigations and on one occasion he called him “stupid.” In general the issue of people’s I.Ds. has been a constant matter of complaints on the part of parties that accuse the Electoral Council of adulteration and discriminatory provision of I.Ds., with the aim of favoring political supporters of the government. In an investigation some years ago La Prensa found an I.D. card given to a member of the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC) guerrilla movement. This year an I.D. card belonging to an arrested Colombian drug dealer was found on Nicaragua’s Caribbean coast. El Nuevo Diario did an investigation regarding these I.D. cards and found brothels where teenagers and other minors were working as prostitutes, having obtained I.D. cards with false ages without presenting the required documentation. In order to prove these cases of corruption El Nuevo Diario reporter Carlos Larios requested an I.D. card with no kind of documentation or birth certificate, through a niece who, saying she was a minor, accompanied a pimp to the offices of Electoral Council officials. She obtained the I.D. card by paying a small amount of money. When the newspaper published its investigation the Electoral Council instead of looking into the matter and punishing the officials accused the young woman of false testimony, despite the fact that she never used the I.D. card for any other purpose than the journalistic denunciation. Although the accusation did not prosper the precedent is serious because it shows intolerance of criticism by independent media and a lack of will to correct the abuses that are exposed. That incident was reported to the Special Rapporteur of the United Nations Human Rights Council. Attorney General Hernán Estrada at one of the forums of Ortega-supporting journalists declared that civil society organizations benefit from the Anti-Corruption Donors Program which he said pays independent journalists and media to do investigative reporting against the government. He named reporter Luis Galeano of El Nuevo Diario and Carlos Fernando Chamorro of Confidencial. According to Estrada funds are channeled through the Communication Investigations Center and the Central American University (UCA). The university said that since 2003 they have been involved in a project to strengthen investigative reporting and journalist are not paid, rather they are awarded prizes for the best works. When Galeano protested, Estrada presented no evidence.