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30 facts that show how Ortega and Murillo impose censorship in Nicaragua

Since April 2018, persecution against journalists and civil society. This is how the independent press and the citizenry resist

Redacción Confidencial

20 de abril 2022


The Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo regime deprives Nicaraguans of the full exercise of press freedom and freedom of expression, through the closure of media outlets, political persecution, threats, harassment, and the passing of repressive laws, criminalization and imprisonment. CONFIDENCIAL gathers the main milestones of censorship from 2018 to date, with which Ortega and Murillo have tried - unsuccessfully - to silence the voices that criticize him and denounce the violations and abuses committed in Nicaragua and those who promote and defend human rights.

1. Mobs against the first civic protest

On April 18, 2018, in Leon, the Government orders to attack the first civic protest against the reforms to Social Security. Shock forces of the Sandinista Front beat older adults. Mobs also attack protesters and journalists during the protest in the Camino de Oriente sector in Managua.

Turbas fanatizadas de Ortega atacaron a manifestantes el 18 de abril en Camino de Oriente, Managua. Carlos Herrera | CONFIDENCIAL.

2. The first assassinations

On April 19, the second day of protests, the police lead the repression with tear gas, bullets and firearms. In the Upoli and Tipitapa sectors, the first three people are killed. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights records 355 deaths between April 2018 and July 2019.

carlos pavón

Photo: Antonio Ramírez

3. Censorship of 100% Noticias and television channels

On the second day of protests, Telcor momentarily suspended four television channels: 100% Noticias, Canal 12, Canal 23 and Canal 51 (of the Episcopal Conference) so that they would not report the repression. Miguel Mora, of 100% Noticias, was warned: if you do not turn down the heat on your coverage, there will be consequences. In November, the channel was removed from cable.

4. Rosario Murillo's hate speech

Vice President Rosario Murillo unleashes a series of insults against the demonstrators in an attempt to minimize them. She called them: minuscule, vandals, coup perpetrators, puchitos, fungi, and bacteria. Sustaining that narrative, in the following months she blames them for “terrorist acts” and a “failed coup attempt”.

discurso de odio de Rosario Murillo

Rosario Murillo, en una foto de mayo de 2018, durante la apertura del Diálogo Nacional, suspendido desde julio. EFE | Confidencial

5. Paramilitaries assault and destroy Radio Darío in León

In April, a mob of hooded men sent by the Sandinista Front set fire to Radio Darío, the most important local radio station in León. Two of the attackers, who had received 500 córdobas to set fire to the radio station, were killed in the incident. Its journalists went underground or went into exile.

Represión León

Aníbal Toruño, director de Radio Darío, entre los escombros de la radio, quemada por turbas del FSLN. Foto: Carlos Herrera | CONFIDENCIAL.

6. The murder of Ángel Gahona, in Bluefields

On April 21, in Bluefields, journalist Ángel Gahona was murdered with a bullet in the head while he was reporting live on the protests. The government prosecuted and convicted two innocent young Creoles, who were later released from prison. Four years later, the murder remains unpunished.

Plantón Gahona

A sit-in by journalists to demand justice for the murder of Ángel Gahona, on April 26, at the UCA. Carlos Herrera | Confidencial

7. War on social networks

After the beginning of the protests, social networks are used to record and denounce the repression. The regime intends to win “the war of the social networks”, manufacturing smear campaigns and threats. And on the other hand, to highlight publications of approval and support for Ortega and Murillo.

orteguistas dirigen ataques en redes sociales

Illustration: Confidencial

8. Reporters assaulted, harassed and wounded

While covering the protests, journalists are assaulted, beaten and injured by Sandinista mobs and National Police officers. The attacks occur despite the fact that they identify themselves as national or international press. More than 1200 aggressions against press freedom are documented since 2018.

censura Nicaragua

9. The last march and the ban on protest

On September 23, 2018, a civic protest is held for the release of political prisoners. Police and paramilitaries shoot at the population and assassinate the young student Matt Romero. Five days later, on September 28, the Police declare the marches “illegal”, imposing a de facto police state.

Tania Romero, mother of Matt Andres Romero, killed by paramilitaries in a march for the freedom of political prisoners. Carlos Herrera | Confidencial Carlos Herrera | Confidencial

10. Rejection of assemblies and express pickets

Between October 2018 and July 2019, the Police banned eight marches using the same excuses, including: “they are coup plotters”. The “no” went to businessmen, feminists, defenders, opposition platforms, and students. Faced with the prohibition, "express pickets" are organized and also repressed.

Susana López, mother of Gerald Vásquez, shows a sign and shouts at several riot police during an express picket of the Mothers of April. Photo: EFE/Jorge Torres

11. Assault on CONFIDENCIAL and 100% Noticias

Between the night of December 13 and the early morning of December 14, 2018, the Police assault and occupy the newsroom of CONFIDENCIAL. The aggression is repeated seven days later against the television channel 100% Noticias, and the illegal arrest of journalists Miguel Mora and Lucía Pineda Ubau takes place.

Lucía Pineda

Miguel Mora, director of 100% Noticias, presented at the Managua Courts, twelve hours after his kidnapping. Photo: File/Courtesy

12. Television censorship against Esta Semana and Esta Noche

In January 2019, Telcor ordered Canal 12 not to broadcast the programs Esta Semana and Esta Noche, directed by journalist Carlos Fernando Chamorro, and the program Danilo Lacayo En Vivo, by the same presenter. Telcor's censorship then reached Radio Corporación, and also took the program Onda Local off the air.  

The director of Confidencial, Carlos Fernando Chamorro, continues to demand that the illegal occupation of the media outlet's offices cease.

13. The de facto police state

The regime imposes police surveillance at the main protest points in Managua to prevent any demonstrations. Anti-riot police remain on guard day and night and also patrol the streets. The population protests from universities and business buildings or launches blue and white balloons.

Daniel Ortega's dictatorship established a de facto police state to put an end to the civic marches that filled the streets of Managua. In the photo, a woman faces anti-riot police, mid-September 2018. Carlos Herrera | Confidencial

14. Censorship and layoffs in the midst of the covid-19 pandemic

The Ministry of Health (Minsa) centralizes information on covid-19. Doctors who demand personal protective equipment and point out mismanagement of the pandemic are fired. Between June and August 2020, 31 health workers were fired, according to independent reports.

Doctors claim that covid-19 shows “an exponentially rising curve, without governmental containment and mitigation measures and policies at the national level”. In the photo, a group of the dismissed doctors, demanding their reinstatement // Photo: EFE | Jorge Torres

15. Minsa hides deaths caused by covid-19

The regime denies the impact of covid-19, and freezes the number of deaths per week at national level at one, hiding more than 14,000 deaths in two years of the pandemic. The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) declares that the official figures are not reliable and cannot make an “exhaustive assessment” of the management of the pandemic in Nicaragua.

estrategia para combatir la covid-19 en Nicaragua

Worship to the presidential couple in a gigantography on the facade of the central headquarters of the Ministry of Health (Minsa), in Managua. Photo: Confidencial

16. Approval of the “Gag Law” 

On October 27, 2020, the National Assembly approves the Special Law on Cybercrimes or g “Gag Law”, which aims to regulate internet content and silence voices critical of the regime. It also approves the Law for the Regulation of Foreign Agents, which blocks funding to civil society.

leyes punitivas contra opositores, protesta contra ley mordaza

Protest against censorship and violations to freedom of press and expression in Nicaragua. Photo: Confidencial // Photo: Courtesy

17. Confiscation of CONFIDENCIAL and 100% Noticias is consummated

In February 2021, the Ortega Murillo regime consummates the confiscation of CONFIDENCIAL and 100% Noticias by illegally transferring the property to the Ministry of Health, to convert them into alleged maternity homes and rehabilitation centers that are guarded by National Police officers.

oficina de Confidencial asaltada y confiscada, transparencia del Minsa

A truck for official use on February 9, 2021, outside Confidencial's offices, raided and confiscated in December 2018. // Photo: Nayira Valenzuela | Confidencial

18. Second assault against CONFIDENCIAL

On the morning of May 20, 2021, officers sent by Daniel Ortega's regime raid a temporary television studio where the programs Esta Semana and Esta Noche were being produced, in Invercasa. During the raid, cameraman Leonel Gutiérrez (r.i.p.) was detained and interrogated for more than seven hours.

prensa independiente, redes sociales represión Nicaragua

A policeman carries a computer from the Esta Semana and CONFIDENCIAL studio after the illegal raid. At left is cameraman Leonel Gutiérrez, who was held and interrogated for more than seven hours. Photo: Confidencial

19. Political process against the FVBCh

In May 2021, the regime opens a political case against the Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation, in order to imprison the presidential candidate Cristiana Chamorro Barrios. They also imprison three former employees: Walter Gómez, Marcos Fletes and Pedro Vásquez and former director Pedro Joaquín Chamorro, all now convicted of alleged money laundering. Dozens of journalists are interrogated to investigate how they work and are threatened with imprisonment.

Cristiana Chamorro as she arrives for a summons from the Attorney General's Office in May 2018. Photo: Confidencial

20. Judicial persecution and criminalization

In June 2021, the Prosecutor's Office begins to subpoena more than 60 journalists and media representatives under the pretext of investigating their link to the Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation, but in reality interrogates them about how they work and threatens them. Dozens go into exile for fear of arrest.

ministerio público contra periodistas

21. Political prisoners charged for tweeting and retweeting

The regime uses comments on social networks and media interviews as evidence to judge and convict dozens of political prisoners imprisoned between May and November 2021, during a new political hunt that raised to more than 170 the number of prisoners of conscience in Nicaragua.

jueces de los presos políticos Nicaragua, jueces y fiscales contra presos políticos

22. Threats against doctors

On July 22, 2021, the regime-controlled Ministry of Health (Minsa) summons doctors who report on the covid-19 pandemic and threatens them with cancellation of their licenses. It also mentions the “Gag Law”. Doctors opt for self-censorship, anonymity or exile.

Minsa cita a médicos

Doctor José Luis Borgen, one of the doctors summoned by Minsa. Courtesy | CONFIDENCIAL

23. Criminalization against independent sources and voices

Between June and November 2021, during a new political hunt by the regime, political analysts and lawyers are arrested for giving interviews to independent journalists. Among those convicted are political scientist José Antonio Peraza, former ambassador Edgard Parrales and lawyer María Oviedo.

Lawyer María Oviedo, from the Permanent Human Rights Commission (CPDH). Photo taken from CPDH Twitter.

24. Police assault and closure of the newspaper La Prensa.

On August 13, 2021, the police raid and illegally occupy the facilities of the newspaper La Prensa, the oldest newspaper in the country, with 95 years of history. It also arrests its general manager, Juan Lorenzo Holmann, who is convicted months later for the fabricated crimes of money laundering and tax fraud.

The facilities of the newspaper La Prensa will continue occupied by the authorities due to a court decision. Photo/ Confidencial

25. Ortega's troll farm

In November 2021, Meta, the company that owns Facebook, Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp, dismantles Ortega's “troll farm” and eliminates 1440 false accounts and 34 groups operated by the FSLN to manipulate public debate. Twitter and YouTube also purge their platforms of officialist bots and trolls.

Facebook desmantela granja de troles en Nicaragua

26. Condemned for “Gag Law”

Fourteen months after the approval of the “Gag Law”, the regime uses it to sentence the first Nicaraguan (Donald Margarito Alvarenga) to twelve years in prison. As of March 2022, some ten people have been convicted under this law, including citizens who did not even have social networks.

A relative of Donald Margarito Alvarenga shows a photo of the opponent. Photo: Confidencial

27. Imprisoned and convicted journalists

The regime holds more than 180 political prisoners, among them several linked to journalism. Cristiana Chamorro and Miguel Mora, both journalists and presidential aspirants, were members of the board of La Prensa and 100% Noticias. Also, Pedro Joaquín Chamorro, columnist and director of La Prensa, and the newspaper's general manager, Juan Lorenzo Holmann; sports columnist and blogger Miguel Mendoza, and political commentator Jaime Arellano.

Nicaraguan journalists in exile demand freedom for sports reporter Miguel Mendoza. Photo: Courtesy PCIN

28. Raids and kidnapping of musicians and producers

Six days before commemorating the fourth anniversary of the April Rebellion of 2018, the dictatorship of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo orders a new wave of repression against opponents, community leaders and musicians and producers in Managua, Nueva Segovia, Tipitapa, Masaya and Somoto. CONFIDENCIAL recorded — according to the report of civil society organizations and community leaders- that this Tuesday, April 12, four arrests, seven raids and three house sieges were registered. Josué Monroy, member of the Monroy and Surmenage gang, was arrested on Tuesday afternoon at his home in Altamira, Managua. Also Salvador Espinoza and Xóchilt Tapia, of Saxo Producciones, and producer Leo Canales, director of La Antesala, were deported to Costa Rica.

Josué Monroy

Musician Josué Monroy. Photo: Taken from the Facebook of the band Monroy & Surmenage.

29. Police state resumes

On the commemoration of the fourth anniversary of the Civic Rebellion, which broke out on April 18, 2018, the Ortega regime intensifies the siege against victims of the massacre, released prisoners, opponents and civic leaders in Managua, Tipitapa, Ticuantepe, Diriá, Rivas and other areas of the country, which dawned guarded by riot police and officers mobilized in patrol cars and motorcycles. In addition, the police recaptured for the fourth time the former conscientious objector, Francisco Hernández.

Police besiege the home of Carlos Pavón, father of Richard Pavón, one of the fatal victims of April 2018. Photo: Courtesy

30. Cancellation of 164 NGOs, associations and universities.

personerías jurídicas canceladas en Nicaragua

Illustration: Confidencial

The regime of Daniel Ortega, through the Ministry of the Interior, orders the closing of another 25 NGOs, including the Luisa Mercado Foundation directed by the Nicaraguan writer Sergio Ramirez Mercado, exiled in Spain. With these new cancellations, the regime of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo has canceled, since November 2018, at least 164 legal statuses of organizations, foundations and civil society associations that promoted social, political, economic, human rights, democracy, education and health development in Nicaragua, according to a count carried out by CONFIDENCIAL.


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




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Redacción Confidencial

Redacción Confidencial

Confidencial es un diario digital nicaragüense, de formato multimedia, fundado por Carlos F. Chamorro en junio de 1996. Inició como un semanario impreso y hoy es un medio de referencia regional con información, análisis, entrevistas, perfiles, reportajes e investigaciones sobre Nicaragua, informando desde el exilio por la persecución política de la dictadura de Daniel Ortega y Rosario Murillo.