Daniel Ortega's dictatorship continues to relentlessly sweep away all vestiges of press freedom. In this period the regime confiscated the facilities of La Prensa, shut down the CNN en Español signal, closed several Catholic Church radio stations and shut down the operations of hundreds of non-governmental organizations.
The regime ordered the seizure of the offices and presses of La Prensa - seized by the national police on August 13, 2021 - in which premises it opened a Cultural and Polytechnic Center called "José Coronel Urtecho."
Previously, the regime had seized the media Confidencial and 100% Noticias - the premises were converted into a maternity hospital and a care center for addicts, respectively. The seizure is prohibited by Article 44 of the Constitution and establishes that the officials must be liable for the damages caused.
La Prensa reported that the seized facilities and machinery are worth close to US$10 million. This was the final blow against the newspaper whose general manager, Juan Lorenzo Holmann, has been in prison for 18 months. Two other members of its board of directors, Cristiana Chamorro and Pedro Joaquín Chamorro, are serving their sentences under house arrest. Weeks ago, in a new onslaught against La Prensa staff, the authorities arrested two of the newspaper's drivers and charged four other employees. Previously, in July, all members of the newsroom - 15 people - had to leave the country for fear of threats and reprisals from the regime. It is estimated that more than 150 journalists have gone into exile since the crackdown in April 2018.
Journalists Miguel Mora - founder and director of the channel 100% Noticias - and Miguel Mendoza - sports reporter - remain imprisoned, sentenced to 13 and nine years, respectively. Their families denounced the deplorable prison conditions and the deterioration of their health. Television commentator Jaime Arellano is serving his 13-year sentence under house arrest. In late August, the regime exhibited 27 political prisoners in the official media - all in jail for more than a year. All of them showed a marked deterioration of their health and weight loss. Among those shown were journalists Mora, Mendoza and Holmann.
In May, the Nicaraguan Institute of Telecommunications and Mail (Telcor) ordered cable service providers to remove from their programming the Canal Católico de Nicaragua -channel 51- owned by the Nicaraguan Episcopal Conference (CEN). Then the National Assembly revoked the legal status of several dozen NGOs - among them the Asociación de Publicaciones Católicas, which had been producing and printing the newspaper Voz Católica for 16 years. The Catholic media TV Merced - of the diocese of Matagalpa - and Canal Católico San José - of the diocese of Estelí - were taken off the cable television services, by orders of Telcor.
At the same time, Radio Católica de Bluefields and Canal 17 de Chontales closed their operations for economic reasons.
In June, police raided the facilities of Trinchera de la Noticia - which was later closed by court order.
On September 21, the government ordered the suspension of the CNN en Español signal from the cable television grid - after 25 years of operation in the country - considering that the "content transmitted by CNN en Español contravenes, violates and harms legal regulations." In a statement published in the official media, Telcor accused CNN en Español of violating articles 1 and 67 of the Constitution and several telecommunications laws.
On September 6 - the eve of International Journalists' Day - Vice President Rosario Murillo declared that the country's independent media are "slanderers, liars and responsible for crimes against humanity." She added that the pro-government media are the only ones disseminating the truth.
On September 29, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) granted protective measures to Holmann and his family, considering his situation "serious and urgent risk of irreparable damage to his rights." The IACHR requested information from the government regarding Holmann's "inadequate conditions and lack of necessary, timely and adequate medical attention to care for his health."
This year, the regime terminated the legal status of 2,307 non-governmental organizations - a total of 2,381 since November 2018. Among those cancelled were the Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation, the Konrad Adenauer Foundation and Oxfam-Quebec.
On April 27, press freedom organizations led by IAPA presented an action plan to support independent media and journalists in the country. They asked multilateral organizations to condition the granting of loans and non-humanitarian aid until the government releases journalists and political prisoners. They also demanded an end to hostility, that journalists be allowed to return to the country, and to enable the reopening of media outlets or the return of their seized buildings and equipment.