The Inter-American Press Association (IAPA) denounced this Wednesday the government closure of 11 radio stations and four cable television channels in Nicaragua as “part of a campaign that aims to eliminate all vestiges of the independent press.”
Most of the confiscated stations in the department of Matagalpa (central Nicaragua) belong to the Catholic Church, an action framed in a “climate of police aggression against Catholic temples and priests,” the IAPA warned in a statement.
“With a single blow, the Nicaraguan government created a new information desert in the interior of the country, where the closed stations provided a valuable community service to thousands of people,” said Jorge Canahuati, president of the IAPA.
Canahuati, general manager of Grupo Opsa, from Honduras, affirmed that with this closure of radio stations and television channels “the intention is to end all vestiges of the independent press” in the Central American country.
It also represents an attack against the “freedom of worship and thought of that nation,” he added.
The closure of the stations was carried out by the National Institute of Telecommunications and Post Office (Telcor) together with agents of the Sandinista police.
The director of Telcor is the daughter of the head of the National Police, Francisco Díaz, a prominent member of the family that makes up the Nicaraguan president, Daniel Ortega, and his wife and vice president, Rosario Murillo.
On Monday, the Police also violently entered the Jesús de la Divina Misericordia parish, in Sébaco, to confiscate the equipment of Radio Católica, the statement continued.
The president of the IAPA’s Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Carlos Jornet, indicated, for his part, that “the Police resorted to excessive use of violence against the closed stations, which indicates the high degree of impunity that Nicaraguan authorities enjoy in the most remote regions of the country”.
“The Ortega government is not only an enemy of press freedom, but also now seems to suppress freedom of worship and thought in Nicaragua,” warned Jornet, director of the Argentine newspaper La Voz del Interior.
The IAPA called on the international community not to abandon the pressure for freedom of the press and democracy in Nicaragua.
The IAPA, based in Miami (Florida, USA), launched a campaign last week in various media outlets in the hemisphere in favor of the six journalists who are political prisoners in the Central American country.
Last April, the IAPA and 26 regional and international press organizations released the so-called Declaration of Nicaragua, which asks multilateral organizations and governments to adopt concrete actions to “force the Government of Nicaragua to stop human rights violations, the abuses of freedom of the press and restore democracy”.