Channel 12 sources warn of “political retaliation” from the Ortega government for maintaining an independent editorial line.
By Ivette Munguia (Confidencial)
HAVANA TIMES – The Nicaraguan tax office (DGI) seized on Saturday the facilities of Nicavision Canal 12 in Managua. They also took the vehicles of the TV station and even the house of its administrator Mariano Valle.
A source told Confidencial that the DGI demands 21 million cordobas (US $607,000) in back taxes.
The Channel 12 owners issued a statement informing that the embargo was executed by Managua judge, Luden Quiroz García. The decision based on an objection about the station’s Income Tax declarations for the years 2011, 2012 and 2013.
Channel 12 is under audit by the DGI since 2018 for covering the protests against the Ortega regime. The owners assume Saturday’s seizure of assets is “political retaliation” for the editorial line they maintain.
In 2018, Channel 12 was forced by the Telecommunications Institute (Telcor) to stop broadcasting the programs Danilo Lacayo En Vivo, and Esta Noche y Esta Semana, directed by journalist Carlos Fernando Chamorro. The censorship was against the debate and interview programs and the main independent station of Nicaraguan television.
In January 2019, the Police kept the Channel 12 facilities under siege, located in the Bolonia residential area. According to the journalists, the officers arrived and stationed themselves on one side of this media outlet to search the workers for weapons.
Aggressive fiscal policy
Saturday’s embargo was repudiated by the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (Cenidh). The organization said the Ortega government applies an aggressive fiscal policy to “repress and silence” independent voices.
“This perverse action threatens freedom of the press and expression. We demand that the regime desist from its strategy of intimidating journalists and destroying independent media,” wrote Cenidh on Twitter.
The repressive escalation against the independent media has increased in recent weeks. The 100% Noticias channel was confiscated and expelled from the air by the dictatorship in December 2018. However, its’ owners denounced new persecution from the DGI and the Social Security Institute. They demand 8 million cordobas (US $231,300), corresponding to the period since the police took over the media facilities.
In addition, the organization Periodistas y Comunicadores Independientes de Nicaragua denounced a police siege against several journalists. These include Ileana Lacayo in Bluefields and Basil Bayres from Somoto. Similarly, Radio Darío, in Leon, denounced Saturday that several police patrols surrounded the perimeter of the station. Their objective is to intimidate the announcers.
The chambers of the Superior Council of Private Enterprise (Cosep) have also denounced what they called “fiscal terrorism”. They accuse the DGI, Customs and the Managua City Hall. In the case of the mayor’s office, they said the collection is more coercive. They initiated 200 criminal cases without giving the businesspeople an opportunity to exhaust administrative proceedings.