At least a dozen journalists have been beaten by government supporters and many have suffered the theft or destruction of their equipment.
Transmissions of 100% News and Channel 12 were suspended from the cable television signal; other journalists have been assaulted.
By Yader Luna (Confidencial)
HAVANA TIMES – The government of Commander Daniel Ortega responded to the protests over reforms to the Nicaraguan Institute of Social Security (INSS) with repression and aggressions against university students and journalists from national and international media.
The government also ordered the censorship of independent television channels on the cable television signal.
The motive of the protests is the decree to increase contributions of employees and employers to Social Security, impose a 5% tax on those already retired and lower future pensions, among other measures.
In Masaya, Camoapa (Boaco) and several points of Managua there have been confrontations between young people from different universities and supporters of the government. At least a dozen journalists have been beaten and have suffered the theft or destruction of their equipment.
Around noon Thursday, the signal of the 100% Noticias channel was suspended from the cable television service. Hours later, Channel 12 was also suspended, where the television programs Esta Noche and Esta Semana, informative allies of CONFIDENCIAL, are broadcast.
State Terrorism in Nicaragua
Men with their faces covered by motorcycle helmets assaulted protesters on Wednesday night while the National Police stood by without intervening.
The journalist of the radio program Onda Local, Julio Lopez, received blows to the head while performing a live broadcast and although he is stable condition he still has problems with his memory. The young journalist was thrown to the ground and beaten by members of the pro-Ortega mobs in the vicinity of Camino de Oriente, when he was covering the protests.
“López, from the Onda Local team, was hit in the head by motorized attackers, causing him to fall to the ground, being helped by other young people who participated in the citizen protest. Julio transmitted live, he did his journalistic work, “said the manager of Onda Local, Patricia Orozco, on her Facebook account.
100% News off the air
The Sandinista Youth beat and frightened the protesters without scruples. Many of them were armed with clubs and pipes. In the middle of the aggression, a cameraman of the Canal 100% Noticias was stripped of his camera.
In videos circulating on the Internet you can see how a group of at least twenty members of the Sandinista Youth (JS) surround him and violently took away his camera and left. The camera has a cost of US $25,000, denounced Veronica Chavez, the executive director of 100% noticias in a live broadcast.
Meanwhile Miguel Mora, a manager of 100% Noticias, blamed the Government and the National Police because his journalistic team was attacked verbally and physically. “I blame the Sandinista Youth for the losses, theft and damage or any injury they have done against our co-workers,” Mora said in a video broadcast on his channel.
Then, shortly before noon on Thursday, the 100% Noticias signal stopped being broadcast on cable television. “In clear violation of press freedom, President Daniel Ortega ordered all the cable companies to censor the signal of 100% Noticias,” said Mora’s statement posted on that media’s Facebook account.
Mora also urged the solidarity of citizens to “protest to your cable company for this arbitrary and illegal measure.”
The head of the 100% news team, Lucia Pineda Ubau, said she was “surprised” by the decision to remove them from the air. “We are here with the Constitution in hand. The government has always said there is freedom of expression and freedom of the press here, but this time they did not respect it,” she told Confidencial.
The Channel continues to broadcast on its website and social networks. “They stole a valuable camera valued at 25 thousand dollars, but I always say that we have more than three thousand cameras on the street with all the reports that our audience sends us,” Pineda insisted.
The Government extended the censorship to Channel 12, when its main news program was being broadcast. Around 5:00 p.m. its signal returned to the air but without audio. One hour before, the official Viva Nicaragua Channel 13 reported that they were “off the air” on the cable but that they were repairing the problem.
Attack on CONFIDENCIAL
Confidencial photojournalist Carlos Herrera was beaten by several subjects who chased him at the Jean Paul Genie roundabout in the capital. They pushed him and he fell to the ground. His glasses were stolen and although they wanted to take the camera they could not because he was helped by other journalists.
Two other colleagues of this publication, Maynor Salazar and Nestor Arce were beaten by the National Police when they were covering the demonstration. Cameraman Ricardo Salgado was pushed and thrown several elbows.
The National Police continued to block the protest and were upset because the CONFIDENCIAL team was still recording, they threw two tear gas canisters that fell near where they were covering.
Alfredo Zuniga, a photojournalist from the AP news agency, was also robbed of a camera and beaten. A photograph of Jorge Torres from the EFE agency captured the moment when a youth of the JS hits Zuniga.
Journalist Alvaro Navarro, from the Article 66 portal, was persecuted by the mobs and one of them on a motorcycle tried to take away the cell phone with which he transmitted live via Facebook.
Radio reporters Jose Roberto Treminio, of Radio Mundial, and Tony Rodríguez, of Radio Restoration, were chased by five subjects who intercepted them when they returned to their work center on Wednesday night.
“I was held against my will by the Sandinista Youth. They beat me and interrogated me. They also stole my cell phone,” the commentator reported in a video. After being held for almost an hour they also removed the chip from his recorder.
Two other Channel 12 reporters were also beaten by the pro-Ortega mobs who constantly reproached them for their coverage.