Miami (March 22, 2021) – The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) considered that the recent sentences against Nicaraguan journalists and opponents represent a great challenge for the entire international community. The IAPA called for "closing ranks to prevent the Ortega-Murillo dictatorship from continuing to restrict the freedoms of citizens and destroying the rule of law."
This Monday, the Nicaraguan justice sentenced journalist Cristiana Chamorro, a newspaper's board of directors La Prensa, former presidential candidate and former president of the Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation (FVBCh), to eight years in prison for crimes of money laundering and misappropriation. In addition, her brother, Pedro Joaquín Chamorro, also director of the newspaper and the foundation, was sentenced to nine years.
Likewise, this Monday, the trial began against Juan Lorenzo Holmann Chamorro, general manager of La Prensa and regional vice president of the IAPA in Nicaragua, imprisoned since August 14, 2021. The regime will probably condemn him for the crimes of money laundering.
In addition, this March 21, Walter Gómez, exadministrator of the FVBCh, and Marcos Fletes, former accountant, were sentenced to 13 years in prison. Pedro Vásquez, the driver of Cristiana Chamorro, was sentenced to seven years. Since last February, journalists Miguel Mora and Miguel Mendoza have been serving 13 and nine years sentences.
IAPA President Jorge Canahuati said, "We are facing one of the fiercest dictatorships in Latin American history." In this way, Canahuati recalled the great battles of the IAPA in its 80-year history against dictators of different ideologies, from Alfredo Stroessner to Augusto Pinochet; from Alberto Fujimori to Jorge Videla; from Rafael Trujillo to Juan Velasco Alvarado; from François Duvalier to Fidel Castro, and from Anastasio Somoza to Daniel Ortega.
Canahuati, executive president of the Honduran group Opsa, added, "The Ortega-Murillo dictatorship challenges us and forces us to think about joint actions that we must promote with other press organizations on the continent. We must close ranks to prevent the Nicaraguan regime from restricting citizens' freedoms and destroying the rule of law."
The Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information president, Carlos Jornet, expressed, "The Nicaragua issue will have ample and necessary space on our agenda for the next IAPA meeting. Beyond the permanent denunciation and the solidarity and unity of the continental journalistic community, we will work to develop an action plan with concrete measures that help neutralize the regime's subjugation against the individual and social freedoms of Nicaraguans."
The next IAPA meeting will be held online from April 19 to 21. The first day of sessions will include a discussion of the Nicaragua case and an analysis of country-by-country press freedom reports. The meeting will be virtual, free of charge, and open to the public.
The IAPA barometer that measures the performance of institutions in terms of freedom of expression and the press, Chapultepec Index, has included Nicaragua for two consecutive years as one of the three countries in the Americas, along with Venezuela and Cuba, without freedom of the press.
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.