President of Nicaragua since 2007 (after having served for the first time in 1979-1990)
Predator since his re-election for a third consecutive term, in November 2016
Nicaragua, 121th/180 countries in the 2021 World Press Freedom Index
PREDATORY METHOD: Economic suffocation and judicial censorship
Since late 2016, the independent press has been living a nightmare, under constant pressure by the Ortega government and its Sandinista National Liberation Front supporters. They are trying to silence critical voices using a number of tactics: threats, persecution, harassment and defamation campaigns, arbitrary arrests and detentions. A “law to regulate foreign agents” is designed to closely monitor media organisations and groups that receive financing from abroad. Ortega stops at nothing to control information. He has put in place a sordid system of economically choking independent media: Discriminatory policies in awarding government advertising, in granting radio and television frequencies, in limiting the importation of supplies and material. In addition, independent media are subjected to abusive audits, and private advertisers are pressured not to buy space in independent media. In September 2018, the government went so far as to explicitly prohibit the supplying of ink, paper and rubber, leading most of the country’s print newspapers to close. Finally, with an eye to the November 2021 presidential election, Ortega has stepped up information control, launching abusive prosecutions against all oppositionists, both in the political class and the media.
FAVOURITE TARGETS: The Chamorro family and private media
OFFICIAL DISCOURSE: Paranoid and exaggerated
“Disinformation terrorism, directed from the United States and taken at face value by media from many countries, especially Costa Rica, is brutal, criminal and xenophobic.” (May 2020, in a speech directed at Costa Rican and American media – La Nación, Telenoticias, Noticias Repretel, CNN) – reviewing government statistics and rhetoric on management of the public health crisis).
“Journalists are the children of Goebbels.” (28th anniversary of the Nicaraguan Army, 1 September 2007).