The Government of Nicaragua announced restrictions on the entry of photographic or cinematographic television cameras, digital cameras, or camcorders into national territory on Wednesday, January 25, through the Directorate General of Customs Services (DGA).
Through a letter addressed to customs officials and the general public, the general director of the DGA, Eddy Medrano, indicated that the traveler must obtain an endorsement from the National Cinematheque, prior to his entry into Nicaragua, "which he will present to the Nicaraguan customs authority".
Last October, the National Assembly - dominated by FSLN, the ruling party - approved a law reform that created the National Cinematheque, which empowers the government to supervise audiovisual and film productions made in Nicaragua.
The legislation turned the state-owned National Cinematheque, formerly attached to the Nicaraguan Institute of Culture (INC), into an autonomous entity under the supervision of the Presidency of the Republic. The law was described by specialists as one more link in the chain of censorship of the regime of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo.
The law incorporated a new chapter in which a Registry of Audiovisual Cinematographic Activity is created, in which natural and juridical persons, national or foreign, engaged in cinematographic and audiovisual activity, must register.
The creation of this registry arose after a TV Azteca journalistic team, led by Mexican journalist Otoniel Martínez, was in Nicaragua for two weeks - last July - documenting the daily life of Nicaraguans in spite of the police state of siege. The journalist, together with two other colleagues, entered Nicaragua from Costa Rica as tourists, to circumvent the control that the dictatorship maintains over national and foreign journalists.
Medrano explained that "the customs authority will proceed to register the entry of this type of merchandise in the system of temporary imports with re-export in the same state of the customs computer system".
The traveler, at the time of entry into Nicaragua, may only introduce as part of his luggage, a photographic device and a long-sighted eyeglass, according to the announcement.
"Quantities in excess of those allowed will be subject to compliance with applicable tax obligations," it noted.
Likewise, the DGA prohibited the entry of night vision binoculars into national territory , "as they are for the exclusive use of the Nicaraguan Army and the National Police", in accordance with the Special Law for the Control and Regulation of Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives and other related materials.
When a traveler brings "binoculars of any kind" with them or in their luggage, the customs administration or delegation will carry out a search in coordination with the National Police, providing a "non-regulation certificate" with which the entry of the binoculars would be cleared in the case that they are not night vision binoculars, explained the DGA.
In the case of tourists, when the traveler brings night vision binoculars with him or in his luggage, the customs administration or delegation, in coordination with the National Police, shall withhold such merchandise.
The traveler may subsequently request the withdrawal of the retained merchandise, with the presentation of the "retention form" at the time of his departure through the same checkpoint where he entered, according to the information.
"The binoculars that do not obtain the 'non-regulation certificate' from the National Police and are not withdrawn by the traveler within three months after the retention is made, will be delivered to the superior authority of the National Police," the DGA informed.
This article was originally published in Spanish in Confidencial and translated by our staff.