Ortega Formalizes Confiscation of Media & NGO Properties

Offices of Confidencial, confiscated by the Ortega regime. Photo from social media.

Carlos F. Chamorro: “In Nicaragua there’s no law. They want to bring the country to its knees, so it will negotiate with no freedom. But they’ll never be able to silence journalism”.

By Ivette Munguia (Confidencial)

HAVANA TIMES – Two years ago brought a series of armed occupations in Nicaragua. The police took over the editing installations of Confidencial, the television studio belonging to 100% Noticias and nine NGOs. Now, two years later, the regime headed by Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo have posted signs on these installations. The signs proclaiming them “Property of the Ministry of Health”, represent a de facto, “formalizing of their crime”. Further, the move sends “a damaging message” to Nicaraguan society, note those affected.

Carlos Fernando Chamorro directs both Confidencial and the television program Esta Semana. He affirmed that we are witnessing an “illegal confiscation”. The situation, he noted, demonstrates that “In Nicaragua, there’s no law, no Constitution, no Supreme Court,” that holds weight. Instead, the regime recognizes “they assaulted a media outlet two years ago, and they’re admitting their crime. They admit they’ve tried to kill off a media outlet. But they’ve never been able to silence it,” said Chamorro.

Despite the illegal confiscation, Chamorro emphasized that the regime “has never been able to confiscate journalism, nor kill the truth.” In addition, he stated: “We, the journalists from Esta Semana and Confidencial, will continue reporting on human rights violations. We’ll continue to reveal the regime’s corruption.”  He also said the outlets would continue demanding the restitution of the public liberties.

A lawless country

On December 13, 2018, the police – equipped with no legal order – assaulted the editorial installations of Confidencial and Esta Semana. One day later, the outrage continued with the permanent occupation of the building. Since that time, Carlos Chamorro and the media’s journalists have exhausted all their legal recourses. They’ve petitioned the Supreme Court to order the suspension of the occupation, but never received a response.

Following nearly two years of continual denial of justice, “Ortega today decided for the Supreme Court justices,” affirmed Chamorro.

In addition to officializing the confiscations, Chamorro stated, the regime is showing Nicaraguan society that “there’s no law in Nicaragua.”  What Ortega wants is “to bring investors, business leaders to their knees. To have civil society, the churches, kneel down and accept the suppression of their freedoms.” Following this, Chamorro stressed, Ortega plans to impose an electoral farce without transparency or political competition.

“Only the signs are theirs”

Miguel Mora is the owner of the television station “100% Noticias”. By officializing the confiscations, he feels, the regime is holding “a knife to its own throat”. This type of action “represents a harmful message” to investors and society in general.

Building confiscated from the television station “100% Noticias”. Courtesy photo / Jose Cardoza

On December 21, 2018, Mora was jailed and had his property confiscated. He asserted that “the only thing belonging to the dictatorship” in the television installations, “is the sign”. The property itself “belongs to the journalists from 100% Noticias. It’s an armed robbery, because it’s not even legal”. The journalist referred to Article 44 of the Nicaraguan Constitution which prohibits the confiscation of property in the country.

Since the forceful takeover of the building belonging to 100% Noticias, “We’ve received no legal notification”, Mora specified. The building’s legal owners “appealed to the Supreme Court, which hasn’t ruled”. Hence, “We also filed a demand with the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights.” The suit, “for this type of robbery” was filed together with Confidencial and other media. They want the case to be heard by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, Mora stated.

The news channel’s owner said the occupation of 100% Noticias “is a robbery” perpetrated by the Ortega government. “To be a confiscation, it would first have to be in the laws, and it’s literally prohibited there.” On the other hand, if it was a matter of legal irregularity, “there’d have to be a document. There’d have to be some legal order to take your property away,” Mora explained.

Consummating the theft

Signs were also hung on the properties belonging to four NGOs. These were: the Nicaraguan Human Rights Center (Cenidh); the Institute for the Development of Democracy (Ipade); the Center for Health Information and Consulting Sevices (Cisas); and the Popul Na Foundation.

The signs on 100% Noticias, and Cisas indicate that treatment centers for drug and alcohol addictions would be built there. Meanwhile, the sign on the Confidencial properties marks it for construction of the District I Casa Materna. These are temporary shelters housing high-risk expectant mothers during the last weeks of their pregnancy.  A similar sign was hung on the Cenidh, indicating it would become the site of the District III Casa Materna.

The sign on the Popul Na Foundation’s installations states it will become the site of a National Diabetes Center.

“In Nicaragua, there’s no law”

Ana Quiros, of the Center for Health Information and Consultation Services (Cisas), condemned the definitive confiscation of the NGO. “It’s another sign that in Nicaragua there’s no right to free association. There’s no right to work, no right to defend rights, no right to property. All these are protected under the Nicaraguan Constitution, the country’s laws, and different international instruments that Nicaragua has ratified.”

Cisas’ legal status was abruptly cancelled in December 2018. Since then, the members of the NGO have filed the corresponding appeals with the Supreme Court. Up until today, they’ve received no response. “These events clearly demonstrate that the regime has no respect for the laws or for rights,” Quiros declared.

The confiscated offices of CENIDH

Vilma Nunez, president of the Nicaraguan Human Rights Center (Cenidh) concurred. She emphasized: “Here, what we’ve seen is a common highway robbery, a vulgar usurpation of the private domain”. She emphasized that Daniel Ortega’s regime won’t be able to destroy the organization because “Cenidh isn’t its installation. Cenidh is all of us who keep fighting so that one day Nicaragua will be free,” concluded Nuñez.   

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