IAPA calls Nicaraguan convictions an aberration


Miami (March 14, 2021) - The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) described as an "aberration to freedom of expression and press freedom" the convictions by the Nicaraguan regime of Cristiana Chamorro and Pedro Joaquín Chamorro, members of the board of directors of the Managua newspaper La Prensa.

IAPA President Jorge Canahuati said, "The lack of independence of the Nicaraguan judges who continue to issue rulings without due process to satisfy the dictatorship is obvious." Canahuati, executive president of Grupo Opsa of Honduras, added, "These sentences are an aberration against freedom of expression and press freedom and an affront to the rule of law."

On March 11, Cristiana Chamorro, former presidential candidate and former president of the Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation (FVBCh), under house arrest since June 2, 2021, was convicted for the alleged crimes of money laundering, misappropriation, and improper retention. "They violate freedom of expression, and I will continue to defend that legacy left by my father," she said upon hearing the verdict and about the director of La Prensa, Pedro Joaquín Chamorro Cardenal, murdered in 1978.

The Commission for Freedom of the Press and Information president, Carlos Jornet, said, "With these rulings, the Ortega-Murillo regime tries to legitimize the closing of the media and the persecution of journalists." Jornet, the executive editor of La Voz del Interior of Argentina, added, "The government has already managed to close the circle of absolute censorship."

The court also sentenced Pedro Joaquín Chamorro Barrios, former vice president of the FVBCh. Cristiana and Pedro Joaquín, together with Juan Lorenzo Holmann Chamorro, general manager of La Prensa, imprisoned since August 14, 2021, are members of the newspaper's board of directors. The reading of the sentence will do on March 21. The prosecution asks for eight years in prison for Cristiana Chamorro and nine years for Pedro Joaquín Chamorro.

Also sentenced on the same date were two former FVBCh employees, Walter Gómez and Marcos Fletes. In addition, the Prosecutor's Office requests 13 years in prison and seven years against Pedro Vásquez, Cristiana Chamorro's driver. The FVBCh ceased operations in February 2021, when the government implemented a law to control external financing received by non-governmental organizations.

In February, journalists Miguel Mora was sentenced to 13 years and Miguel Mendoza to nine years in prison.

The IAPA barometer that measures the performance of institutions in matters of freedom of expression and press, Chapultepec Index, has included Nicaragua for two consecutive years as one of the three countries in the Americas, together with Venezuela and Cuba, without press freedom.

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.