Journalists and workers of La Prensa are in limbo and ask the Government to let them work.

Nicaragua, August 19, 2021. The workers of Diario La Prensa from Nicaragua are alarmed.  Nicaragua has been in an economic recession for the last three years. Then came the Covid19 pandemic and added additional financial distress. And now, they suffer the confiscation of the country’s oldest newspaper, in the midst of persecution against anybody who dares to express an opinion against the authoritarian Government from the Ortega – Murillo couple. 
The 200 La Prensa employees feel threatened with losing their jobs. In a statement published on the newspaper’s web page, they assured that they are dismayed by the raid and by the imprisonment of the General Manager, Juan Holmann. The Government ordered him to remain in jail for 90 days.
Fundamedios spoke with two journalists of La Prensa who told their stories. We do not disclose their names to protect them from reprisals. 
Marina (name withheld) has worked as a journalist and editor at La Prensa for several years. The raid of La Prensa on  Friday the 13th afternoon took her by surprise. She recalls that between 2018 and 2019, Nicaraguan Customs authorities already withheld the needed paper to print for more than 500 days, without any explanation. During that time, La Prensa decided to reduce the number of pages of the company edition and the size of the newspaper. However, they continued to circulate with some normality.
The Daniel Ortega’s persecution against the media and harassment are increasing and now causes us great uncertainty about our working future”, said Mariana.
Since the pandemic’s beginning, La Prensa reporters began to work remotely from their computers at home and only went out for coverage. This work dynamic allowed the journalists to be present on the day of the raid and that they were not subjected to additional arbitrary detentions.
Last Monday, the workers approached the offices to ask the police if they could work in the newspaper’s facilities. The authority responded that it was impossible because the paper was confiscated, as well as all the documentation in the offices. 
The anguish of Marina and her colleagues increased when the accountant of La Prensa, Daniel Calero, and Ramiro Montalván, and Ernesto Juárez, members of the administration and financial department of La Prensa, were taken to the Judicial Assistance Office.For Pedro ( protected name), who has worked for the newspaper for a decade, the reaction of the regime was not a surprise: “I expected that they would attack the newspaper directly with the aim of closing it because the regime is annoyed that we report the abuses that they foment”.
From his experience and analyzing the Government’s behavior, he assures that the attacks against the media will continue because Daniel Ortega’s idea is to eliminate all dissident voices or impartial press “because we report about the abuses they commit.”
He also does not rule out that the regime will begin persecution against all journalists who continue to work and even take away their computers not to produce information. If La Prensa closes, he will look for other employment options within Nicaragua, but leaving the country is also among his alternatives.  
The  Public Prosecutor’s Office started an investigation against the editor and its directors on “Customs Fraud, Money Laundering, Property and Assets” charges. The employees fear that the investigation will be similar to that of the Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation. 
The workers publicly requested the Government to continue working and to carry on the investigations with the general manager, Juan Holmann, out of jail.
Most of the workers have been stressed and concerned about their future job prospects. Unknown if they will continue with their positions or if there will be a cutback of personnel. Their jobs are in limbo for now, and the hopes of stability that Holmann Chamorro gave them have disappeared with his incarceration.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.