In September, new closures of media of communication, exiles of journalists, and closures of non-governmental organizations began, while the government displayed, for the first time, some 27 political prisoners who are kept in El Chipote police jail, whose families denounced the continuing deterioration of their health.
A journalist whose TV channel was closed goes into exile.
The Nicaraguan journalist David Mendoza, the owner of the closed television channel RB3 in the northern region of Rio Blanco, left Nicaragua at the end of August and solicited asylum in the United States, according to information released to the press. Mendoza said that he crossed the Rio Grande (the border between Mexico and the United States) last August 30 with his wife and his 10-year-old son.
The director of the popular channel RB3 denounced in consternation the closure of his television station by the Institute of Telecommunications, as part of the closure of almost a dozen independent press media. Mendoza founded his channel 18 years ago, and it became a point of reference for a huge rural population in the north of Nicaragua.
Another Catholic church radio station is closed.
This past 23 August, hours after the clergy of Estelí (in the north), in a communication, condemned the government's repression of the Catholic Church, the Institute of Telecommunications and Post (Telcor) canceled the license to transmit Radio Stereo Fe, which belonged to this diocese and broadcasted religious content in the northern zone of Nicaragua.
Telcor argued that the frequency of the channel was authorized “as a personal favor” to Monseñor Francisco Valdivia Lazo, who died in 2021, thus the station could no longer keep using that radioelectric spectrum.
“We condemn the closure of our radio where many humble people in our communities fed on the word of God,” said the administration of the radio transmitter.
State publicity is spread among family and “the loyal”.
An investigation of the independent publication Expediente Publico revealed that since the first semester of 2022, the Nicaraguan government has spent more than 180,000 dollars to reward officialist publicity companies, journalists, and communication businesses.
Among those rewarded with large sums of money are Juan Carlos Ortega Murillo, the son of the president's wife and director of Channel 8 television, the propagandist Joaquin Absalon Pastora, television channel 23, and radio stations like Nueva Radio Ya and Radio Oxigeno.
The publicity companies Global Art, Nicaprint, Playmarketing, and Comuntesa are other groups that benefited from the financial resources of the state, as a part of the communications strategy managed by the vice president and official spokeswoman, Rosario Murillo.
“Ortega is using the resources of the state, the resources of the Nicaraguan people, to propagandize in his favor,” declared Ricardo Trotti, executive director of IAPA.
The government exhibits political prisoners.
On the last two days of August and the first of September, for the first time, the Nicaraguan government exhibited 27 political opponents who have been jailed in the terrible police prison El Chipote, whose family members denounced that they have been kept hungry, out of communication and suffering from various diseases which have not received attention.
The prisoners were taken one by one to the seat of the courts in Managua supposedly for “informative hearings” which do not exist as such in the code of law, according to experts who have been consulted.
In the public exhibition, when questioned by family members or humanitarian organizations, they were shown, among others, Lesther Aleman and Max Jerez, the business leader Michel Healy, the director of the opposition Violeta Granera, and members of the opposition Tamara Davila, Suyen Barahona and Ana Margarita Vijil, along with the mythical ex-sandinist commander Dora Maria Tellez, the protagonist of guerrilla feats in the 70s, when Daniel Ortega proclaimed that Nicaragua would never again live under the boots of another dictator like Anastasio Somoza, who up to then was the cruelest and bloody dictator in history.
For the sociologist Sara Henriquez, a defender of human rights and an exile, Ortega exhibited the prisoners to weaken their families' claims that their lives were at risk. “But he achieved the opposite result because these photos and videos only reinforced evidence that they were being tortured, kept in isolation, and starved,” she said.
Among the prisoners presented at these “informative hearings” were the journalists Juan Lorenzo Holmann Chamorro, general director of the daily newspaper La Prensa; Miguel Mora, former candidate for the presidency of Nicaragua, and the sportswriter Miguel Mendoza.
The public exhibition of the political prisoners was not proof of life. It was a confirmation that the regimen submits them to psychological torture by denying them sunlight, healthy food, and the right to read a book or communicate with their families. “All this is 'white torture',” said Henriquez.
August, the month of 2022 with the most political jailing.
This past August, the Nicaraguan government unleashed the largest wave of detentions for “political motives,” according to the Monitoreo Nacional Azul y Blanco and the Mecanismo para el Reconocimiento de Personas Presas Politicas (Mechanism to Recognize Political Prisoners).
Between August 1 and 28, 31 arbitrary arrests were registered. Of those, 15 were for “political motives.” Of the 15 citizens detained, according to the Mechanism, one was deported to his country of origin, six were freed and eight remain in jail; one is under house arrest and seven are in the Dirección de Auxilio Judicial (DAJ), known as El Chipote.
Among the eight people who are still detained is Monseñor Rolando Alvarez, bishop of Matagalpa and apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Estelí, who is in house arrest since August 19. Among the seven other people accompanying Alvarez in the curia, who was jailed and later moved to El Chipote were three priests, two seminarians, and a layman.
The number of prisoners of conscience rises to 205.
According to the Mecanismo para el Reconocimiento de Personas Presas Politicas, whose cases have been evaluated by the Interamerican Commission of Human Rights, the number of people in jail for political reasons has increased to 205.
Of this total, 195 were captured in the last four years, since the protests of April 2018, and ten were already in prison. Of the 205 political prisoners, 20 are women, according to the same report.
In this registry, there are 14 people (14 men and 2 women) recognized as political prisoners who were captured between May and August 2022, but their names have been omitted at the request of their families.
In Nicaragua, 1,775 non-governmental organizations have been closed.
Last September 1, the Nicaraguan government closed another 100 NGOs. With those, the numbers climb to 1,775 NGOs closed since 2018, the great majority of which were illegalized during the year in progress.
“This way the arbitrary closures of all the organizations are consolidated, organizations for community development, for women, for the environment, for autonomy, for indigenous people, for the promotion of social and political rights for the people who are the most vulnerable sector of the country,” denounced the human rights organism "Nicaragua Nunca Mas", formed in Costa Rica by Nicaraguan defenders forced into exile.
Translation, Lucina Kathmann, and Alessandro Zagatto