Nicaragua: A Monument to Crimes against Press Freedom

For over 2 years the Confidencial offices were occupied by Police. Now the Ortega-Murillo regime turned the illegally confiscated newsrooms into a health facility.

Ortega and Murillo tried to “launder” the crime, covering up the theft of Confidencial’s offices and equipment as a health service, but they left a distinctive footprint.

By Carlos F. Chamorro (Confidencial)

HAVANA TIMES – The Ortega-Murillo regime carried out on February 23rd the final act of the illegal confiscation of the Confidencial and Esta Semana media outlets. They did so with the complicity of the Ministry of Health. The seizure also involved the Cabal consulting firm, owned by my wife Desiree Elizondo.

More than two years ago, at midnight on December 13, 2018, the Police raided our newsroom on the orders of their top commander, Daniel Ortega. They stole 35 computers, a brand-new television studio, seven cameras, two television video editors, and dozens of audiovisual production accessories. They also took the accounting and institutional documentation of three companies, personal assets and all our private information in physical and digital formats.

The following day, a permanent armed police occupation was imposed, in which our newsroom was converted into a police barracks. During that period, the Supreme Court admitted three writs of amparo in which we asked it to order the cessation of the occupation. However, despite the evidence proving illegality, they never ruled.

On December 22, 2020, the regime made the announcement de facto. They installed a billboard at the property, assigning it to the Ministry of Health, in open violation of the law and the Constitution.

This Tuesday, February 23, 2021, in the newsroom of Confidencial and Esta Semana and in the offices of Cabal, which had operated since 2004 in the same building, MINSA inaugurated a “Maternity Home.”

The confiscated offices of Confidencial converted into a health facility.

Meanwhile, at the also confiscated TV Channel 100% Noticias, operating since 2006, MINSA will inaugurate in the coming days a “Center for People with Alcoholism and/or Drug Addiction.”

Additionally, at the headquarters of the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (Cenidh) in Juigalpa there is now a health post. MINSA also announces the upcoming opening of a “Center for Diabetics” on the property of the Institute for Democracy (IPADE).

The regime presents these highly publicized “health projects” to it supporters as an act of generosity by “the commander and the comrade.” They conclude the police takeover of two independent media outlets, and the closure of several non-governmental organizations that promote human rights and a culture of democratic values.

In reality, it is a crude attempt to “launder” a State crime against freedom of the press, expression and association. The Government violates Article 44 of the Constitution which specifically establishes that in Nicaragua “the confiscation of property is prohibited.” By appropriating these assets and properties, three ministers of Health, Martha Reyes, Sonia Castro and Carolina Davila, are jointly responsible for this violation and, “must answer for the damages caused.”

Like drug traffickers and organized crime, Ortega and Murillo have tried to “launder” their crime, covering up the closure of media outlets as if the health services that the State is obliged to provide were a handout from the party-family system.

However, the rulers left their distinctive footprint on the crime scene. In the Confidencial newsroom, where for more than two decades we did journalism in freedom, where we as journalists discussed how to tell news, stories and articles, ideas, opinions, and investigations about power and corruption, they put up giant pictures of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo, symbols of censorship and dictatorship, with their omnipresent pink color.

Ortega and Murillo tried to erase the existence of a media outlet from the collective memory. But what they have done is to erect a monument to their obvious crime against press freedom.

They resorted to brute force to shut down a media outlet that is celebrating 25 years of independent journalism. However, they never stopped our reporting, nor silenced Confidencial.

We never stopped doing journalism, neither on the day of the police raid in 2018 nor when the illegal confiscation is now completed. Our newsroom is in the hearts and minds of reporters, in their commitment to report the truth at all costs, without subjecting to censorship or self-censorship.

Sooner rather than later, we are going to tell you the great story of the 21st century: the end of the last dictatorship in the history of Nicaragua, evicted from power, to begin the construction of a new Republic in democracy, with justice, and without impunity.

Read more from Nicaragua here on Havana Times.