There continued during this period to be what has been a common practice since the inauguration of President Daniel Ortega’s government – the use of placement of official advertising to award or punish news media according to their editorial stance. Moreover, this does not stop the government from breaking the law. On March 18 past, voter registration was closed for the national elections to be held next November. The Election Law, in its article 85, says: “Once the period of registration has ended, the CSE shall list and register the candidates in a definitive manner and shall publish those lists in the principle written communications media a single time so that political organizations participating in the electoral process may challenge such candidacies within three days.” This was not done. Throughout these past six months the harassment and occasional blockade of the delivery of the newspaper La Prensa by a pro-government labor union whose existence had not been recognized by the newspaper’s executives continued, hindering its distribution and freedom of movement. At the same time there was harassment by these former employees supported by labor unions allied with the governing party outside the home of the paper’s general manager. The Law on Access to Public Information despite having been passed by the National Assembly is not being applied and on numerous occasions the independent media are not invited to cover events of social, electoral or educational importance. In the majority of such cases reporters are detained by security guards so as to prevent their entering the public buildings. El Nuevo Diario in January published a series of reports that uncovered a number of alleged unlawful acts committed by the head of the Directorate General of Revenue (DGI), Walter Porras, which angered him and led him to issue threats against both the newspaper and reporter Luis Galeano, who had written the stories. Rather than contesting the accusations Porras went about searching for the people who had given the independent media the information. In January, in the northern Nicaraguan region of Las Segovias the government ordered local television channel Canal 15 in Condega, headed by Carlos Cerda Acuña, off the air. First the station received phone calls, then bomb threats and threats of sabotage and finally the owner was ordered to close the station down. He was told the action was taken because the channel was regarded as being right-wing. In early February El Nuevo Diario complained that the extraction of its supplies from Customs was being blockaded. The government, through its Directorate General of Revenue (DGI), the Directorate General of Customs (DGA) and Finance Ministry have been the ones to block the newspaper’s imports. The paper’s executives say this action was taken as a reprisal for its investigative reports on alleged corruption in those government bodies. In mid-February the government took advantage of the irregular adoption of a legislative bill titled “Integral Law Against Violence Toward Women” leaving open the possibility of levying fines on news media. Under terms of Article 35 of the this bill “the news media owner, person or reporter who in carrying out his or her profession or job offends, libels, satirizes or denigrates a woman for the mere fact of being a woman through a new media outlet shall be fined 200 to 300 daily wages and have to apologize publicly in the same media outlet for the offense at the same length and with the same prominence.” According to Assistant Attorney General Ana Julia Guido, who was a member of the team that introduced the bill in the National Assembly, there is a need to mete out punishment for what she called “media violence.” “The news media’s problem is that they satirize and in some manner denigrate women, that should not be tolerated,” she declared. “There sometimes are cartoons satirizing women.” She said she was reflecting “women’s feelings.” The president of the Nicaraguan Human Rights Center (Cenidh), Vilma Núñez, and the executive secretary of the Permanent Commission on Human Rights (CPDH), Marcos Carmona, criticized the incorporation of the article in question, calling it a “muzzle” on the press. On February 9 the El Nuevo Diario correspondent in Masaya, Mercedes Vanegas, was threatened. The former head of the police force in that province, Mercedes Canales, called her on her mobile phone and harangued her because she did not like a certain report being published. “You don’t know who you’re messing with and what you’re getting involved in,” Canales told her. The police chief’s violent reaction against the correspondent came after the paper published a photo and information given by the Masaya police department itself, in which Canales’ son was mentioned as a suspect in the murder of a folklore performer. On February 11 the government authorized the withdrawal of supplies for El Nuevo Diario by the Directorate General of Customs. That same day Supreme Court Chief Justice Alba Luz Ramos removed Article 35 from the Law Against Intra-Family Violence on the basis of wide opposition to it. However, she left its implementation in abeyance for “later, when our society evolves and the media do not regard anything referring to them is an attack upon them.” El Nuevo Diario reporter Luis Galeano and his colleague José Adán Silva investigated a series of acts of alleged corruption in a number of government agencies. Three days before their reports were published, on Saturday, February 19, Galeano received a phone call in which he was warned that he would have “72 hours to live,” should he decide to publish the findings. The threats extended to his members of his family during the course of the publication of the investigative reports. Four people who support the opposition political parties were arrested in early March by police in the northern town of Ocotal as they were hanging posters on the street to express their rejection of the President Ortega’s bid for re-election. In the same month posters put up by the Private Enterprise High Council around the capital calling for observers for the presidential elections were removed by workers from the Managua city hall, run by the governing FSLN party. In the inaugural address at the Autonomous National University of Nicaragua (UNAN) in Managua given by President Ortega he focused on discrediting independent news media, principally the print ones – La Prensa and El Nuevo Diario – which he accused of being “having no shame” and of being at the service of money lords. He also charged them with having received money under the counter from the United States and European countries. Consultations on the initiative for a Complete Law against Violence toward Women were taken up again and the special prosecutor for women, Débora Grandison, who was in charge of it, gave assurances that the organizations consulted (she did not say which) asked to keep article 35 in the law, which penalizes satirizing a woman’s image. “The article remains, considering the consultations made; the National Assembly will determine whether or not to approve this article,” said Grandison, even remarking that she is of the same opinion, considering the image that is presented of women in many communication media that try to use negative stereotypes. Journalist and investigator Sofía Montenegro, in representation of the Center for Investigaion for Communication, Cinco, indicated that this shows that the principle of article 35 had the goal of censorship. She considered that the consultation was spurious, because it was with people who favor Ortega, and this does not represent legitimacy, since it is not known whether or not they consulted the women’s movement, other organizations of civil society, or journalists. The government of Nicaragua was working on a technical standard that would regulate any kind of advertising that promotes the consumption of food, drinks, and nutritional supplements. The standards would require that in order to disseminate an advertisement, it must first have government approval, which would come through the Ministry of Health (Minsa). After negotiations between private enterprise and the government, it was agreed that there already exist in the Penal Code laws that regulate these activities. On April 2, 2011, organized Civil Society called a march against the reelection of President Ortega. Immediately the government party called for another march on the same day and along the same route. When police authorities were asked why they had authorized two marches on the same day, at the same time and same route, the spokesperson of the National Police affirmed that the FSLN had already sought authorization for that day, and also that it was not to be a political march, but rather a festival of peace and reconciliation. They never showed the application from the government party. The march of Civil Society was aborted by Orteguista shock groups, with the result thatf various demonstrators and police officers were wounded.