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Miguel Mendoza’s criticism made the regime uncomfortable. Now he’s in jail

Minutes before being arrested, the journalist retweeted Carlos F. Chamorro’s warning of a raid against his house

Journalist Miguel Mendoza was not arrested by the police of Daniel Ortega’s regime for being a sports reporter, but rather for being one of the most critical independent voices on Twitter. Thus, his capture constitutes the first governmental attack on social media users in Nicaragua, who use these digital communication channels to express their criticism of the Government and their political discontent.

Mendoza is a prominent Nicaraguan sports reporter and staff member of the Doble Play radio program, which is directed by Edgard Tijerino. Along with René Pineda, they bring the most distinguished voices of sports analysis together. On social networks, Mendoza combined his comments on sports with those on politics, openly opposing the Ortega-Murillo regime. 

Mendoza’s capture alarmed almost the entire Nicaraguan Twitter community, and also users on Facebook. His account on the microblogging network became a trend as soon as the news of his capture became known, as did the account of Carlos Fernando Chamorro, whose house was raided the same night of June 21.

Why Miguel Mendoza was taken

Miguel Mendoza has public accounts on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube (4880 subscribers) and he shares sociopolitical content critical of the regime’s gubernamental management on all of them. “I am a journalist with 25 years of experience, who only published sports news before 18/04. Now I am focused on seeing my Nicaragua free”, he says in the description of his Facebook page, with 117,382 followers.

He combines political activism – he denounces Ortega’s arbitrary actions, shares content of others, joins political calls on social networks, among others – but he is also a creator of his own political content: he expresses his own ideas evaluating the actions of the regime and opposition groups.

In addition, Mendoza is a new type of social media influencer: a critical voice, original, with an outspoken style, with great popularity and who offers up his space to express his ideas and share the ideas of others. This last characteristic differentiates him from the commercial social media influencer who never shares or mentions other people’s content unless there is some kind of payment or royalty. 

From his Twitter account [email protected], with 27,103 followers- his tweets generate abundant conversation and his credibility is such that political leaders react to his comments. Despite not sharing ideology with some of the imprisoned pre-candidates, Mendoza has demanded the release of all of them with their names and surnames.

Miguel Mendoza’s tweeting style is irreverent with power, funny, very free in his form of expression and daring with his ideas on how to free the country from Ortega’s dictatorship. All that added to his journalistic skills: well informed, he looks for evidence, writes with clarity and editorializes his ideas. A skill set that the regime considers very threatening.

It is well known that the Ortega and Murillo regime has never liked social networks, much less users with a public social network account. The regime has never understood them because it cannot control the people who express themselves there nor the companies that own the networks.

The regime in Nicaragua has installed a state of terror against the citizens who do not express themselves politically in physical spaces due to the real threats of repression and risk to their lives, so they turn to social networks massively to stay informed and express their ideas.

Miguel Mendoza (Camoapa, from Boaco, Nicaragua) is 51 years old, he has a 30 year old son and 7 year old daughter. He highlights very emotional content on his Facebook and Instagram accounts, such as the recent 90th birthday celebration for his mother, Salvadora Urbina. She received a very special gift: a song dedicated specially to her, by the Nicaraguan singer-songwriter Carlos Mejía Godoy, who greets her in the video, from California.

Another feature of Mendoza’s communicative practice is tweeting solidarity: his last tweet was a retweet that warned of the raid on journalist Carlos Fernando Chamorro’s house. Minutes later, the Ortega police arrived to capture him.

This article was originally published in Spanish in Confidencial and translated by our staff

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