Nicaraguan poet and writer Gioconda Belli and a group of journalists criticized on Monday the handling of the information that the Daniel Ortega government has given to the coronavirus pandemic, which has claimed the lives of five people in the country.
During a conversation called “The value of the independent press in the defense of health and life,” Belli reproached the Sandinista government for centrally managing the disease of COVID-19, despite the fact that it is a matter of public health.
Belli, who as a young man fought against the Somozas dictatorship and was a member of the ruling Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN), to which he belonged during the first regime (1979-1990), described this communication policy as “crazy” and that instead of informing, it misinforms.
“It is very sad and worrying that there is no adequate information from the government,” he said.
CAMPAIGN AGAINST MEDIA AND JOURNALISTS
Journalist Cristiana Chamorro, daughter of former President Violeta Barrios de Chamorro (1990-1997), said that with COVID-19 the level of censorship in Nicaragua has been “amplified”, which was highlighted by the social outbreak of April 2018.
“That censorship is affecting the health and life of Nicaraguans,” he considered.
For his part, Confidencial journalist Wilfredo Miranda said that in Nicaragua there is a deliberate policy of concealing public information and wanting to discredit the work of independent media.
He denounced that the Government has “a trolley factory” that is dedicated, among other things, to generating false news and then discrediting the media and journalists.
“That is a weapon of the dictatorship to dismiss the work of journalists,” he denounced.
ATTACKS DO NOT STOP
The press chief of the 100% Noticias television channel, Lucía Pineda, said that the “dictatorship”, alluding to the Ortega government, does not tire of attacking the independent press.
He recalled that the Government confiscated the building where they broadcast their newscast, canceled their license to broadcast on open television, and imprisoned its director Miguel Mora and her after the anti-government protests that broke out in April 2018, from which they were later released.
According to what he said, two accounts that the channel had on YouTube have been launched by the Executive, they block their broadcasts on Facebook, and that journalists continue to receive threats and blackmail.
“The government’s attacks on journalists have not stopped,” confirmed Juan Carlos Duarte, director of Radio Camoapa.
He considered that the Government “is afraid of dissent” and wants to impose an “unreal narrative” of the socio-political crisis and the health crisis.
Despite all that pressure, Duarte said, the government has not been able to discourage the work of independent journalism.
ALMOST 2,000 VIOLATIONS OF PRESS FREEDOM
The also communicator María Lilly Delgado, correspondent for the television channel Univisión, pointed out that three crises have been experienced in Nicaragua: a socio-political one since April 2018, an economic one, and the health crisis, which have an impact on the way of doing journalism in the country.
He noted that the media have had to reinvent themselves in Nicaragua in the last two years, because in addition to the lack of public information, journalists are threatened for carrying out their work by the followers of President Ortega.
According to data from the Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation, which organized this discussion together with the national chapter of PEN International, since April 2018 to date they have recorded 1,979 violations of press freedom, including 147 so far in 2020.
He stressed that while there is “a repressive apparatus that is focused on the media, journalists remain fearless, untethered and without paying favors.”