The Inter American Press Association (IAPA), along with 26 other organizations, approved on April 19 a statement on Nicaragua, given the seriousness of the situation experienced by Nicaraguan journalists and media. The document was presented during the biannual meeting of the IAPA and includes an action plan that seeks to “restore freedom of the press and expression” in Nicaragua.
“Before the systematic persecution of independent journalism, oppression and generalized censorship, the kidnapping of public powers and the demolition of civil society structures in Nicaragua, the signatory organizations commit themselves to follow an action plan that allows the restoration of freedom of the press and expression, as essential guarantees to restore democracy”, indicates part of the declaration.
The action plan included requesting multilateral organizations to “condition the granting of credits and non-humanitarian aid until the Ortega regime releases the political prisoners, returns the facilities to La Prensa, CONFIDENTIAL and 100% News; and allow the return of media and journalists from exile and offer guarantees for their work.”
They will also promote campaigns and petitions before the embassies of each country in the region in which they will demand that the Ortega regime release the journalists imprisoned unjustly and arbitrarily, among them: Miguel Mora, Miguel Mendoza and the commentator Jaime Arellano, as well as the members of the board of directors of La Prensa Cristiana Chamorro, Pedro Joaquín Chamorro and Juan Lorenzo Holmann Chamorro, who is also regional vice president of the IAPA in Nicaragua.
The IAPA will promote with the media, news agencies, technology companies, organizations and governments of the region, to urge that the Nicaraguan issue be kept on the public agenda; humanitarian, technological and economic cooperation is offered to the independent press; Campaigns for donations, memberships and subscriptions are promoted to support the viability of independent Nicaraguan media inside and outside the country; and wide spaces for debate are opened to define actions that allow the restoration of democracy and the full validity of citizen rights and fundamental freedoms.
Freedom of the press is experiencing “an extremely delicate moment”
At the opening of this biannual meeting, the IAPA warned that press freedom is experiencing an extremely delicate moment in countries such as Nicaragua, Venezuela, El Salvador, Cuba and Mexico, black spots on a continent in which 24 journalists have died in the last 12 months.
Jorge Canahuati, president of the IAPA, considered, in his opening speech, that the profession faces a “disheartening panorama” on the continent due to the crisis in the sector and a “colossal disrespect” for the work of journalists and the media for part of the authorities.
The most worrying panorama at present for the IAPA is that of Nicaragua and the president of the Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information of this organization, Carlos Jornet, estimated that President Daniel Ortega is seeking the “extinction” of independent journalism.
“Daniel Ortega, do not continue betraying the ideal of freedom of the Nicaraguan people that you once upheld and today savagely represses,” asked Jornet, who cited estimates that, since June 2021, 75 journalists and media owners have been forced into prison. exile in this country.
Relatives of Political Prisoners Demand Freedom at IAPA Forum
In the virtual event, the IAPA dedicated a panel to denounce the situation in Nicaragua and invited relatives of journalists jailed and Nicaraguan communicators forced into exile due to the persecution of the Ortega-Murillo regime.
Renata Holmann, daughter of political prisoner Juan Lorenzo Holmann Chamorro, general manager of La Prensa, during the forum denounced the criminalization against her father and the physical and psychological deterioration caused by more than seven months of confinement, which has been unjustly imposed on him. and arbitrarily the Ortega regime.
Juan Lorenzo Holmann was sentenced on March 23 for the alleged crime of laundering money, goods and assets. The Ortega justice sentenced him to nine years in prison, disqualified him from practicing his profession and fined him more than three million dollars.
“The judicial process has been marked by arbitrariness and abuse of my father’s human rights. In these 249 days they have kept him isolated and incommunicado. Only six visits with his relatives have been allowed. He has been subjected to secret hearings to which he did not have access to his defense attorney, nor free and private interviews as the law requires, “said Holmann’s daughter.
Visibly affected by the situation her father is going through, Renata indicated that as a family they reject “the accusations and sentences” against Holmann, emphasizing that “he is innocent.” In addition, she asked the international community “to keep their eyes on Nicaragua, because we are all prisoners here.”
Cristopher Mendoza, nephew of journalist Miguel Mendoza, participated in the IAPA forum denouncing that his relative has “302 days in jail by the Ortega-Murillo regime for spreading his opinion and telling it to Nicaraguan citizens.”
Miguel Mendoza, sports writer and blogger, was convicted of the alleged crime of “impairment” to the detriment of society and the State of Nicaragua based on the “Sovereignty Law”. The regime’s justice sentenced him to 11 years in prison and disqualification from holding public office.
Mendoza’s family indicates that his relative has expressed that he was deprived of his liberty arbitrarily “for exercising the right to freedom of expression and being a journalist.”
Journalist Lourdes Arróliga, a former employee of the Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation (FVBCh), to whom the regime opened a case for the alleged crime of money laundering, during the forum, spoke for the first time about her situation of forced exile, highlighting that it has been “something very difficult what has happened in Nicaragua.”
She explained that in May 2021, after being summoned twice by the regime’s Prosecutor’s Office, she was included in the open case against the FVBCh only for demanding to be accompanied in the interviews by her lawyer.
“No one who worked at the Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation belongs to any organized crime network. All of us journalists who are in exile, our only crime is to be committed to public liberties, to dream of a Nicaragua with freedom and to denounce the arbitrariness and human rights violations that the Ortega-Murillo regime constantly commits,” he pointed out.
The journalist Lucía Pineda, released political prisoner and press officer of 100% Noticias, denounced the situation of imprisonment suffered by the journalist Miguel Mora, also a former presidential candidate, stressing that, as is the case with more than 170 other political prisoners, he was not he allows regular family visits, has lost more than 30 pounds, and is not given access to a bible.
Miguel Mora was also sentenced to 13 years in prison and disqualification from holding public office for the alleged crime of “undermining national integrity.”
Pineda pointed out that the Ortega regime’s attack against journalists and media outlets has been “brutal and merciless” and they have been “sentenced to civil death, because you cannot work in Nicaragua.”
“The regime wanted to disappear us as journalists and media outlets, but today we continue to resist from our platforms and thus defeat censorship,” he stressed.
With information from EFE