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Nicaragua: A crackdown in four parts (Demo)

The following is an excerpt of a 5 August 2019 CPJ blog post by Natalie Southwick/CPJ South and Central Americas Program Coordinator.

When protests erupted in Nicaragua in April last year, it was clear from the beginning that the country’s media landscape would be a battleground. One day into the unrest, the government ordered cable providers to cut the signals of at least five TV channels. By the end of the year, CPJ had documented attacks, arrests, and even surveillance of journalists.

What stood out was how the risks escalated from injuries while reporting on protests or journalists being harassed and threatened online and via pro-government media to arbitrary detentions, raids on news outlets, surveillance and even imprisonment. Two journalists – 100% Noticias director Miguel Mora and news director Lucía Pineda Ubau  – were jailed for nearly six months.

In some ways, the press was an easy target. President Daniel Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, who oversees official state communications, spent years tightening their control over the media. The majority of television stations and major newspapers are owned by members of the presidential family or allies including Mexican media tycoon Remigio Ángel González. CPJ has previously reported how few outlets dare report critically on the government because of pressure. Reporters from the few independent outlets, such as news website Confidencial, run by Carlos Fernando Chamorro, the son of former President Violeta Chamorro; or Radio Darío, reporting since 1959 from the northwestern city of León, told CPJ they were free to report as long as they didn’t cross certain lines, such as openly criticizing leadership.

Read the full blog post on CPJ’s site.

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