Report to the IAPA 77 General Assembly Virtual
October 19-22, 2021

In this semester the government of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo has continued its attacks on journalists and the media. Among these attacks are police harassment, summonses to the Public Prosecutor's Office and indictments by the Attorney General's Office, as well as arbitrary detentions - especially for "committing acts that undermine integrity."

The most disturbing event was the assault on the facilities of La Prensa newspaper and the arrests of journalists and media executives.

On August 13, five police patrols raided the facilities of La Prensa, disconnected the servers and cut off the electricity and Internet. In addition, they forced the personnel on site (journalists, drivers and administrative staff) to remain in the parking lot without access to their mobile devices. The raid took place the day after the newspaper announced that it would cease to circulate in print because the Customs Office (DGA) refused to release the newspaper's raw material. La Prensa was the country's only daily newspaper and continues to publish in its online version - with access to servers beyond the reach of the dictatorship.

After the raid, the police reported that it had opened an investigation against the board of directors of the newspaper for the alleged crimes of "customs fraud and money laundering." In the raid police seized equipment, boxes with accounting documents and other property of the newspaper. The gates of the newspaper remain closed and guarded by police officers.

The general manager, Juan Lorenzo Holmann, was taken to the Judicial Assistance Office to "sign some papers," but on August 14 he was arrested and is being investigated "for the crimes of customs fraud, money and assets laundering, to the detriment of the State of Nicaragua and the Nicaraguan society." Holmann has been under arrest for more than two months. He has only been able to see his wife once - for 30 minutes - but not his lawyer. All hearings have been secret, even though by law they must be public.

The government cancelled more than 24 legal entities, most of them medical organizations - sources of information for the media in the context of the pandemic.

May was marked by the opening of judicial proceedings, summons to journalists and media executives, as well as the raid on the offices of Confidencial. Most of them were "interviewed" in relation to the case against the Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation (FVBCH).

At the end of May, the regime jailed 37 opponents, among them Marcos Fletes and Walter Gómez - accountant and administrator of the FVBCH, respectively.

According to the Public Prosecutor's Office, in the case against the shut down FVBCH, 158 people were interviewed in four months - among them 57 journalists. Nine of them were summoned on two or more occasions.

In June, the government placed under house arrest the former director of the FVBCH and independent presidential candidate, Cristiana Chamorro. It also arrested six other presidential candidates, opposition leaders, diplomats, peasant leaders, student leaders, journalists and human rights activists.

Of the 37 detainees, four are under house arrest and the rest are in prisons run by the Judicial Assistance Office. Among them are the former director of 100% Noticias Miguel Mora and sports reporter Miguel Mendoza.

According to the indictments of the Prosecutor's Office, most of the evidence against the detainees are text message conversations on their mobile devices, publications on social networks, statements given to independent media, and the testimonies of police officers who participated in the raids of their homes.

In recent months, the government has fine-tuned its repressive strategies and methods against journalists and independent media - who continue to denounce arbitrariness using different digital platforms.

Faced with state persecution, 26 journalists decided to go into exile - the largest exodus since 2018. This is the second exile of some communicators, among them, Carlos Fernando Chamorro.

On July 29, journalism mourned the death of engineer Jaime Chamorro Cardenal, president, director of La Prensa and regional vice-president of the IAPA. He passed away at the age of 86 and left a legacy of fighting for truth, professional journalism and democracy.

National and international human rights organizations have criticized the attack on journalists and media executives, and campaigns have been carried out in social networks to call for the release of political prisoners - pointing out that these actions are a means by Ortega and Murillo to guarantee their continuity in power.

However, the regime has consolidated its totalitarian policies and has managed to impose a climate of terror ahead of the general elections.