“If you keep talking crap, we’ll cut out your tongue when you return home,” said the message, which was accompanied by a video animation showing Chávez being beheaded and included threats to mutilate and murder members of his family still living in Nicaragua.
Chávez, who posted copies of the message and video on Twitter on 25 July, used to work for Vos TV before fleeing Nicaragua in December 2018, a few days after two journalists, Miguel Mora and Lucia Pineda Ubau, were arrested on terrorism and conspiracy charges.
The target of constant threats and smear campaigns by Ortega supporters, he sought refuge in Costa Rica, like many other journalists who are persecuted by the government, and founded the Nicaragua Actual news website, on which he continues to cover developments in Nicaragua as well as the situation of Nicaraguan exiles.
“These latest threats against Gerall Chávez are extremely serious and show that journalists who are openly critical of Daniel Ortega’s government continue to be seen as public enemies,” said Emmanuel Colombié, the head of RSF’s Latin America bureau. “We remind the Nicaraguan authorities that they are obliged to protect journalists who are threatened in connection with their work, and to protect their families as well.”
This is not an isolated case. In a report published on 27 July, the Association of Nicaraguan Independent Journalists (PCIN) said it had registered a total of 351 press freedom violations from 1 March to 25 July, including physical attacks, threats, harassment, smear campaigns and unjustified judicial proceedings.
Nicaragua is ranked 117th out of 180 countries and territories in RSF's 2020 World Press Freedom Index.