Miami (September 14, 2020).- The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) decried the embargo on Channel 12 and denounced that the Nicaraguan regime is arbitrarily using the cover of tax policies to repress and silence independent media.
On September 11, at the request of the tax collection office (DGI, Dirección General de Ingresos in Spanish) the assets of Nicavisión Canal 12 in Managua and of its owner, Mariano Valle, were seized. In a statement, the media denounced that it is an "arbitrary and illegal maneuver on our Income Tax returns" between 2011 and 2013.
Under the pretense that the television station owes 21 million cordobas (about US $ 608,000), the DGI confiscated the television station's antennas, transmission equipment, vehicles, bank accounts, and registered Valle residence.
The president of IAPA, Christopher Barnes, and the president of the Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Roberto Rock, expressed their condemnation "for this new action against a media outlet by a regime that continues to demonstrate that it does not have the least respect for the independent press".
Barnes, director of The Gleaner Company (Media) Limited, Kingston, Jamaica, and Rock, director of the La Silla Rota portal, Mexico City, said that "this pattern of conduct to repress and silence the media is not new," in reference to the confiscation in December 2018 of the headquarters and equipment of Confidencial, the TV programs "Tonight" (Esta Noche) and "This Week" (Esta Semana), and of the TV station 100% Noticias. The government has yet to return the equipment and buildings to the owners.
IAPA authorities repudiated "the use of fiscal policy as a method of indirect censorship, actions contrary to international principles of freedom of the press as stated in the Declaration of Chapultepec and in the Declaration of Principles of Freedom of Expression of the Organization of American States."
According to the Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation (FVBCH), the DGI invoiced a debt of 110 million cordobas (about US $ 3.2 million) to Channel 10; meanwhile, the DGI and the Nicaraguan Social Security Institute require 100% Noticias to pay eight million cordobas (about US$ 231,236) fiscal debt accumulated during the period in which the media’s assets were confiscated, from 2018 to date.
IAPA is a non-profit entity dedicated to the defense and promotion of freedom of the press and of expression in the Americas. It is made up of more than 1,300 publications from the western hemisphere; and is based in Miami, Florida, United States.