Nicaragua: Journalists Remain Incommunicado after 28 days

A Judge of the Sixth District Criminal Court ordered the El Chipote jail authorities to allow family visits to journalists

A Judge of the Sixth District Criminal Court ordered the El Chipote jail authorities to allow family visits to journalists

20 de enero 2019


The last time Alejandro Ubau Hernandez spoke with his niece Lucia Pineda Ubau, editor-in-chief of 100% Noticias (News) channel, the journalist expressed her concern about the permanent siege of paramilitaries and the National Police at her workplace.

A week later, on December 21, 2018, Pineda Ubau and Miguel Mora, director of this media outlet, were illegally abducted in a police operation that culminated in the occupation of the premises and the cancellation of the popular channel’s signal.

As of January 18th, 28 days have passed and the relatives do not know the condition of the journalists. Ubau Hernandez told Confidencial that they do not have any additional information, and that he continues with the routine of providing food in the morning, without having the certainty if it is actually delivered to Lucia.  

This Thursday, Criminal Court Judge Henry Morales, ordered the El Chipote jail authorities to allow the visits of relatives to Mora and Pineda. Julio Montenegro, lawyer of the Permanent Commission of Human Rights (CPDH), explained that the judicial orders must be fulfilled, and he expects the authorities will comply.

Montenegro added that the court order does not establish a specific day or time, however, he considers that the visit could be made on the same day that the other prisoners of El Chipote have visits.

“Not even the team of lawyers assigned to her case have been able to see her. The Costa Rican consulate have not notified us of an answer about the formal request they made to be able to see her and for a doctor to see her. The situation is complex, we do not have recent news and we are waiting for January 25th, which is the initial hearing,” explained Ubau Hernandez.

The journalist and editor-in-chief of 100% Noticias, was presented at criminal court on the morning of Sunday, December 23rd, in a closed-door hearing, after more than 24 hours of her kidnapping by the Police. To date, she continues without being presented in public.

Pineda Ubau is accused of the crimes of “incitement, proposition and conspiracy to commit terrorist acts.” These are the same of which Miguel Mora, journalist and director of the news channel, was also accused on Saturday December 22. Both journalists were kidnapped by the Police on the evening of Dec. 21, following an order to cancel their transmissions, which included closure and confiscating of their facilities.

A press release from the Judicial Branch, assured that Pineda “promoted and incited hate for reasons of political discrimination, spreading false information on television and social networks with the intention of generating anxiety and hatred towards supporters and members of the Sandinista Front.”

Irregularities in their presentation  

The lawyer of the Permanent Commission on Human Rights (CPDH), Julio Montenegro, is the one who heads the team of lawyers that handles the case of Pineda and Mora. As reported by the journalist’s uncle, he has not managed to talk to his clients and this raises doubts on the condition in which both are.

Montenegro explained to Confidencial that until the judicial order notified this Thursday January 17th, it appears that a guideline existed to not allow neither Mora nor Pineda to have visits from their relatives or their lawyer. This, in in terms of law, is irregular, because it is incomprehensible that a few days before a hearing, the lawyer has not even crossed words with his clients.

“I am the assigned lawyer and I have not been able to see them. Not even the people from the Costa Rican consulate have been able to do so. It is an irregularity,” said Montenegro.

Ubau Hernandez agreed with Montenegro and stated that orders from the El Carmen presidential bunker restrict all rights to the political prisoners. He explained that if there was a rule of law in Nicaragua the prisoners would have access to their family, telephone calls and a basic diet.

“Evidently in this country there is no rule of law in force and it is logical that all the powers of the State are kidnapped and all work according to the orders issued by the Presidency. That is clear to all the families that have the misfortune of having a political prisoner,” Ubau Hernandez said.

The path of 100% Noticias

Since December 21, the facilities of 100% Noticias are closed. The main surface of the building is nailed with several zinc sheets and police agents occupy the building as they do with the offices of Confidencial and Esta Semana, since last December 14.

The Nicaraguan Institute for Telecommunications and Postal Services (TELCOR), regulatory agency of the sector, ordered subscription television operators to remove from their menu the channel of 100% Noticias on the night of the kidnapping of the journalists.   

After the raid the news team and the administrative area of 100% Noticias were disintegrated. Most of the reporters went into exile. Others are unemployed and a group continues to contribute with other media outlets.

Leticia Gaitan, news anchor of this media, is exiled in Costa Rica. She currently collaborates for “Nicaragua Investiga” as a journalist. She left the country due to the threats received from Daniel Ortega’s regime.

“In my case I fled because they were coming for me. In the case of the others, I know that some want to get out of the country not only because of the crisis (persecution), but also because economically they have been affected. Some are low profile. But, the whole team was disintegrated,” affirmed Gaitan.

Gaitan expressed that 25 days after the illegal capture of Miguel Mora and Lucia Pineda Ubau, the channel is dismantled, with no possibility of reporting through its website or social networks. She says that she wants to return to Nicaragua and work again in 100% Noticias, although she explained that that will depend on the Government releasing her two bosses out of jail.


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Maynor Salazar

Periodista. Investiga temas de medio ambiente, corrupción y derechos humanos. Premio a la Excelencia Periodística Pedro Joaquín Chamorro, Premio de Innovación Periodística Connectas, y finalista del premio IPYS en el 2018.


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