With President Daniel Ortega’s reelection in November 2021 for a fourth consecutive term, the independent media continue to endure a nightmare of censorship, intimidation and threats. Journalists are constantly stigmatised and subjected to harassment campaigns, arbitrary arrest and death threats. Many journalists have had to flee the country.
In Nicaragua there is practically no independent media within the country as a result of a strong wave of repression that the Daniel Ortega regime launched against opposition politicians, civil organizations and independent media since May 2021. The media that continue to report on government abuses are digital, with most of its journalists in exile. The few media outlets that still operate within the country, such as Radio Corporación or the Acción 10 newscast, avoid confronting the government for fear of reprisals.
In 2021, the National Police took over the facilities of La Prensa without a court order, and the facilities continue to be occupied. Since then, La Prensa has not circulated any papers, and this event is in line with the trend of directors and journalists of different media outlets being arrested and prosecuted for alleged money laundering, or treason against the country, without any evidence being presented.
After the 2018 protests, the government of Daniel Ortega prepared a series of laws it could use to attack opponents and independent journalists. These laws were approved in 2020, among them the Special Cybercrime Law, which has been used to condemn journalist Miguel Mendoza, and sentence two other citizens who used social networks to criticize the government. They are all accused of spreading false news and have received sentences of between 8 and 12 years in prison.
The country's economic situation has not improved since the government’s crackdown on protests in April 2018. The repression increased in May 2021, which has only kept investments depressed, and the country is sustained economically by exports of some products such as gold, meat and coffee, as well as by remittances. The internal economy has lost its dynamism and Nicaraguans are overwhelmed by inflation.
Emigration has increased exponentially to the point that the Nicaraguans who arrive at the southern border of the United States rival in number those from the countries of the so-called Northern Triangle of Central America. The state of mind within Nicaragua is a mixture of fear of repression and hopelessness, with countless young people expressing their desire to leave the country on social networks.
It is not safe to practice independent journalism in Nicaragua. Journalists who remain inside the country work very discreetly and do not sign their articles to avoid reprisals. Cameras are often confiscated and there is practically no reporting on the streets any longer.