Miami (October 1, 2021) - The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) awarded the Grand Prize for Press Freedom 2021 to media executive Juan Lorenzo Holmann Chamorro, from Nicaragua; and the journalist Henry Constantín Ferreiro, from Cuba. Upon substantiating its decision, the IAPA extended the award to independent journalists from both countries who this year, "one of the darkest periods," have been persecuted and imprisoned.
Holmann Chamorro is general manager of the Managua daily La Prensa. He has been in prison since August 14, 2021. In addition to maintaining the closure and occupation of the newspaper's headquarters since August 13, the Daniel Ortega regime accused Holmann Chamorro of allegedly having committed the crime of money laundering, goods, and assets. In addition, two members of the La Prensa board are still in prison: Cristiana Chamorro, for her pre-candidate status in the November 7 presidential elections, and Pedro Joaquín Chamorro, arrested after declaring that he also had presidential aspirations. La Prensa continues to be published digitally with some journalists in the country and others in exile.
Constantín Ferreiro, director of the magazine La Hora de Cuba, was imprisoned and held incommunicado for ten days after being arrested on July 11, when the social protests began demanding freedom from the government in several cities on the island. Constantín Ferreiro and two other journalists from La Hora de Cuba remained under house arrest until August 23. After that, they were released, but remained under constant siege as the rest of the country's independent journalists.
The president of the IAPA, Jorge Canahuati, of the Grupo OPSA from Honduras, stated, "Holmann Chamorro and Constantín Ferreiro represent the struggle and courage of independent journalism to keep the population informed, despite the strong reprisals adopted by the totalitarian regimes against critical voices and press freedom."
The president of the IAPA Awards Commission, Leonor Mulero, from El Nuevo Día, Puerto Rico, said, "It is the first time in decades that two regional vice presidents of the IAPA's Commission on Freedom of the Press and Information were in prison at the same time." She added, "It is evident that independent journalism is going through one of the darkest periods for the press in those countries."
Carlos Jornet, president of the Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, of the newspaper La Voz del Interior, of Argentina, said, "The Commission will continue to support its two vice presidents for Nicaragua and Cuba. We will not stop raising our voices and denouncing the atrocities against dozens of journalists who are persecuted, imprisoned, and forced into exile.
Due to the tightening of restrictions against freedom of the press and expression this year, the IAPA conducted two international investigative missions in Nicaragua and Cuba in July and August, respectively. The IAPA found that journalists have faced similar repressive practices in both countries: arbitrary detentions, threats, surveillance, monitoring, mobilization restrictions, impediments to leaving the country, hacking, control, identity theft in social media, stigmatization, and pressure on family members, information sources, and advertisers.
This year, the winners of this award and the other 14 categories of the IAPA Awards for Excellence in Journalism will be honored during a special ceremony on October 21, during the IAPA General Assembly, held virtually from October 19 to October 22.
These are some of the Nicaraguan journalists who have been detained or continue to be detained since April 2018: Marlon Powell, Noel Miranda, Marcelo Conde, Valeska Rivera, Alberto Miranda, Miguel Ángel Mendoza Urbina, Luis Sequeira, Leonel Gutiérrez, Tania López, Jaime Arellano Arana and Jacdiel Rivera Cornel. Since May, some 50 journalists have received a court summons, and, in the face of constant threats, many have been forced to leave the country, including Carlos Fernando Chamorro and Octavio Enríquez, as well as seven journalists from La Prensa.
The Miguel Díaz-Canel regime also detained 11 independent journalists, and human rights activists and artists suffered the same fate. In all cases, the regime also harasses his relatives. Other journalists detained in Cuba: Iris Mariño, Neife Rigau, Camila Acosta, Maykel González Vivero, Niober García Fournier, Orelvis Cabrera, Rolando Rodríguez Lobaina, Héctor Luis Valdés Cocho, Pedro Luis Hernández, Alberto Corzo, José Antonio López Piña, Yoel Acosta Gámez, Juan Manuel Moreno Borrego, Waldo Fernández Cuenca and Yosleidy Romero Becerra. Some are still under house arrest.
Cuban journalists Esteban Rodríguez, since April 30, and Lázaro Yuri Valle Roca, since June 15, are still imprisoned.
IAPA is a non-profit organization dedicated to defending and promoting freedom of the press and expression in the Americas. It comprises more than 1,300 publications from the western hemisphere; and is based in Miami, Florida, United States.