Editorial on Ortega’s Assault on Journalists in Nicaragua

The attacks against Confidencial are attacks against all independent Latin America journalism

Censorship leaves citizens blind and at the mercy of their rulers. The recent assaults of President Daniel Ortega against the communications media represented by Confidencial and Esta Semana are a deliberate attack on freedom of the press and freedom of expression.

As editor and director Carlos Fernando Chamorro has so aptly said, these attacks are aimed not only at the journalists whose editorial offices are today occupied by armed police, but against the Nicaraguan citizens and their constitutional right to information, opinion and freedom of expression.

There’s no legal order to back the confiscation of the journalism equipment nor the occupation of the offices of these media outlets. It’s an arbitrary and illegal act that parallels the closure of a number of NGOs, all organizations that had carried out the work of accompanying the victims of the current crisis and the members of civil society. It is, then, an act aimed at silencing and repressing all criticism against the Ortega regime.

The fact that the NGOs have been closed by a legislative decree and then occupied by order of the Interior Ministry testifies to an action orchestrated by three state powers, all under Ortega’s control.

Further, the fact that not even a judicial order or legal justifications was required to take over the editorial offices of Confidencial and Esta Semana speaks for itself; these are actions characteristic of a dictatorship, whose closest precedent in Nicaragua can be found only in the times of Anastasio Somoza.

The current crisis in Nicaragua that began exactly eight months ago with a student protest, revealed the true face of a dictatorship disguised as populist and democratic. These last events only serve to confirm its dictatorial character.

In Ortega’s Nicaragua, all power is concentrated in himself and his wife. Their will is law. Under these conditions, the work of Chamorro and of the journalists and workers at Confidencial and Esta Semana, and of the few independent media outlets that still survive in the country becomes more important, more admirable, and more heroic.

Confidencial has been a media ally of El Faro for many years. We are proud to walk by the side of that committed, authentic and valiant editorial body.

We condemn in the most energetic terms the attack against Confidencial and Esta Semana, and we demand of the Ortega regime an immediate withdrawal from their offices and the return of the equipment seized. We affirm our support and admiration for our Nicaraguan colleagues and declare ourselves in complete solidarity with their situation.

Criticism, demands for accountability and questioning of power are the essential functions of honest journalism. The attacks against ConfidencialI are attacks against all independent Latin American journalism.

*Editorial published in El Faro, El Salvador, December 18, 2018.

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