The freedoms of the press and of expression are going backward in Nicaragua, as a result of the "systematic aggression" of President Daniel Ortega, the Inter-American Press Association (IAPA) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said today in Managua.
A joint delegation of the IAPA and RSF drew that conclusion after more than 30 meetings held this week with representatives of the media, independent journalists, students, peasants, businesspeople, the Catholic Church, diplomats and with former President Enrique Bolaños.
"Freedom of the press and expression are going backward, led by a campaign of systematic, sustained and permanent aggression undertaken by the government of President Daniel Ortega", the organizations concluded in a statement, read by the president of the SIP, Gustavo Mohme.
According to the organizations, freedom of the press "is in this country under clear harassment by authorities and police agencies," and "the government headed by President Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo are politically, legally and historically responsible for it".
The IAPA and RSF highlighted the government's "repressive policy against the press" began after Ortega returned to power in 2007, and "it has increased and worsened over the years".
The organizations recalled that Ortega promised in 2001, in the Declaration of Chapultepec, and in 2006 as candidate for the presidency in both occasions, "an unrestricted respect for freedom of expression" that he allegedly had not practiced when he ruled Nicaragua between 1980 and 1990 by the internal war.
In his reading, Mohme stressed the mission of the IAPA and RSF were "alarmed" by journalists and the media claiming "the high levels of repression, even lethal, by police forces", against demonstrators and reporters.
The attacks included "threats, persecution, intimidation and defamation campaigns, especially in cases involving journalists in the interior of the country," such as the murder of reporter Ángel Gahona or the explosion of Radio Darío.
He also denounced the "official practices of economic suffocation" or the discrimination against independent media, as well as the policy of "single discourse and propaganda", "permanent secret culture on official information", which "often generates self-censorship".
The IAPA and RSF demanded that Ortega "immediately cease all acts of physical aggression, intimidation and threats," the in-depth investigation of violent acts against journalists and the "severe" law enforcement against those responsible.
They also demanded respect and compliance with the precautionary measures of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (CIDH), and the search for "a dialogue of respect and tolerance that allows a democratic solution to the serious social and political crisis in the country."
The document will be sent to the "Working Group" on Nicaragua of the Organization of American States (OAS), said Mohme, who was accompanied by the president of the Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Roberto Rock, the executive director of the IAPA, Ricardo Trotti, and for RSF, Emmanuel Colombié.
Nicaragua is going through the bloodiest crisis since the 1980s, also with Ortega as president, and that has killed between 317 and 448 people, according to several humanitarian agencies, a figure that the Government sets at 198.
The protests against Ortega and Murillo, began on April 18, for failed social security reforms and became a claim that calls for their resignation, after eleven years in office, with accusations of abuse and corruption against them.