The last fortnight was marked by an escalation of the campaign of persecution against the independent press and also against the Catholic Church, which materialized in the closure of some 11 media outlets, seven of which were radio stations linked to the Diocese of Matagalpa (north) led by Bishop Rolando Álvarez, one of the most critical voices against the government.
After several days of police harassment, Álvarez was locked up on August 4 in the episcopal house along with 11 other people (five of them priests), while the Police announced the start of "investigations" for alleged "hatred incitation" and "violent groups organization".
A similar situation was experienced by Uriel Vallejos, parish priest of Sébaco, municipality of Matagalpa, who was besieged by the Police for several days at the beginning of August until he was almost secretly evacuated from the place by a group of religious people. The pretext for the siege was the closure of Radio Católica, broadcasting from Sébaco.
Vice President Rosario Murillo lashed out at Catholic priests and, without explicitly mentioning Bishop Álvarez, warned that the government will not tolerate acts of "exhibitionism" or "sins against spirituality." Hours later, the Police announced the investigation against the bishop of Matagalpa and other non-identified people.
As of August 9, Álvarez and his collaborators remained virtually kidnapped inside the city's Episcopal Curia, under strict surveillance by police officers and anti-riot troops. However, the bishop stopped sending messages through his social networks, casting a cloud of silence on his situation. It is unclear if the regime will be negotiating with the Vatican about its possible exit from the country.
PEN, Fundamedios, and Voces del Sur along with other NGOs reject massive and arbitrary closure of media outlets.
The organizations that signed this statement rejected the massive and arbitrary closure of radio stations in the department of Matagalpa, including Radio Vos, a community radio with 18 years of work in favor of communities and vulnerable groups in its department, as well as Catholic radio stations Radio Hermanos, Radio Santa Lucía, Radio Católica de Sébaco, Radio Nuestra Señora de Lourdes, Radio Nuestra Señora de Fátima, Radio San José de Matiguás, Radio Monte Carmelo and Radio Alliens.
SIP: After closure of media, the "information desert" grows.
"With a single blow, the Nicaraguan government created a new information desert in the country, where those closed stations provided a valuable community service to thousands of people," said the president of the Inter-American Press Association (IAPA), Jorge Canahuati.
In a press release issued on August 3, the IAPA protested the massive closure of radio stations and cable TV channels in northern Nicaragua.
This is "part of a campaign that seeks to eliminate all the traces of an independent press and represents a new attack on freedom of worship and thought in that country," Chahuati said in the report.
The IAPA recalled that the closure of media in Matagalpa occurred "simultaneously with a climate of police aggression against Catholic churches and priests."
Poet Gioconda Belli banned from literary festival in Spain.
The poet and novelist Gioconda Belli, president of PEN Nicaragua, denounced that the Ortega regime, through its embassy in Spain, the country where she is currently in exile, vetoed her participation in the cultural festival "Celebremos Iberoamérica."
Belli shared on social networks the invitation letter issued by the Organization of Ibero-American States (OEI) to participate in the event from September 19 to 25. However, she denounced that on August 1 she received a call from that same entity informing her that "Nicaragua's chargé d'affaires in Spain vetoed" her inclusion in the festival.
“She said that I do not represent Nicaragua. Obviously, I do not represent those who govern us, and to the great honor of not representing that invented country that they represent,” wrote Belli.
“The human misery of wanting Nicaraguan artists to pay homage to them reveals their absurd tantrums and their jealousy,” she added.
NGOs Will Continue Documenting Repression in Nicaragua.
Nicaraguan and international human rights organizations denounced that repression has been increasing in the country and warned that they will not stop documenting cases of censorship, persecution, and imprisonment that continue to happen under the Ortega government.
At a press conference called on July 29 to analyze the Final Observations of the Committee against Torture (CAT) for the State of Nicaragua, representatives of these entities reiterated that human rights and the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment have been systematically violated in the country.
Tania Agosti, Legal Advisor in Geneva for the Institute of Race, Equality and Human Rights (Race and Equality) said that the lack of commitment of the State of Nicaragua to comply with its international obligations occurs in a context in which it is accused of "practicing a policy of arbitrary arrests against any type of opposition, while at least 190 people are reported of being deprived of liberty for political reasons, and experiencing inhumane conditions where there are clear signs of torture and violence."
Government prevents return of renowned Nicaraguan doctor.
On August 4, the government prohibited the entry into Nicaragua of prestigious doctor and professor Joaquín Solís Piura (86), a renowned fighter against the Somocista dictatorship and defender of university autonomy since the 1950s.
Solís Piura was returning to Managua with his wife after a family visit to the United States. Both are Nicaraguans and were prevented from entering their country, without receiving any explanation.
The Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (CENIDH) "strongly condemned this abuse of the human rights of Dr. Solís Piura and his wife "and stressed that the regime has condemned them to forced exile in" a perverse and cruel action ".
OAS and European Union analyze new wave of repression.
The Organization of American States (OAS) announced that it will discuss Nicaragua’s situation in a session scheduled for Friday, August 12, in which a resolution rejecting the siege and persecution against the Catholic Church and the independent press is expected to be discussed.
For its part, the Council of the European Union plans to meet on October 15 to review the sanctions imposed against officials of the Ortega regime and their relatives. The adoption of new measures in the face of recent events is not ruled out.
“We continue to monitor the situation and will react appropriately. These latest acts of repression were condemned by the European Union as a new violation of freedom of expression and freedom of religion or belief,” told the European Union Foreign Service spokesman Peter Stano.
Translation by Alessandro Zagato, Latin America Representative, Artists At Risk.