Nicaragua breaks deal with Russian media

Nicaragua’s access to credible information is shrinking. The Ortega-Murillo regime not only continues to shut down local media and persecute its journalists, but is now also making content available from the Russian radio and broadcast network Sputnik to about twenty Nicaraguan public media.

“It is a practice that by design aims to close the space of information, to keep people in the dark, because the opacity of information carries control and power”, said María Isabel Puerta, a political scientist with a doctorate in social sciences, in exile in the United States, says Dialogo October 12. For [Russia]it is essential that his version of events – especially since the invasion of Ukraine – continues to sow distrust of democracy and the countries that guarantee democracy.

The dissemination of Russian news in Nicaraguan media was made possible thanks to a September 5 cooperation agreement between the media coordinator of the Communication and Citizenship Council of Nicaragua, Daniel Edmundo Ortega Murillo, son of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo, and Vasili Pushkov, Director of International Cooperation at Sputnik.

“This agreement goes against what the Nicaraguan people demand: the freedom to express themselves, the freedom to be informed, without speeches manipulated by power, with plural debates, with the possibility of listening to voices various,” said Carlos Jornet, chairman of the Freedom of the Press and Information Committee of the Inter-American Press Association, said Voice of America. “It’s an alliance in which both parties cement their disdain for professional journalism and their quest for consolidation of a narrative removed from reality.”

The regime not only attacks the local media, but also the international press. “TO CNN in Spanish we believe in the vital role that freedom of the press plays in a healthy democracy. On [September 21] the Nicaraguan regime has taken down our television signal, denying Nicaraguans news and information from our network, which they have trusted for more than 25 years,” the network said in a statement. “CNN in Spanish will continue to fulfill its responsibility to the Nicaraguan public by offering our information links on CNNEspanol.comso that they can access information that is not otherwise available.

Rosario Murillo told state media that the network violated the Sovereign Security Law, passed in 2015, but did not provide specific details. AFP reported.

“The media are fundamental pillars in a democratic system. Consequently, for [non-democratic] regimes that they are an enemy to be defeated and bent, in order to have control over the media and control over information,” Puerta said. “Disinformation is what contributes to a large extent to the maintenance of the political regime. An authoritarian regime must control public opinion. The free press is always an obstacle in this direction.

According to the latest report on press freedom violations in Nicaragua by Voice of the Sur (Voices of the South), a regional network of Latin American civil society organizations that promotes and defends freedom of the press and freedom of expression, 30 media, including 27 radio stations, three television channels, five local newscasts, one national and at least five talk shows were shut down between January and August 2022.

For its part, the Independent Journalists and Communicators of Nicaragua (PCIN) reports that more than 120 journalists are in exile. In Costa Rica alone, 65 digital, print, radio and television professionals are in exile.

“The persecution of the press in Nicaragua is only a reflection of the regime’s fear that what is really happening in the country will be exposed”, Víctor Pérez, director of the Nicaraguan digital magazine InterTextual and a member of the PCIN executive committee, said Dialogo. “Some of the acts against the press are the product of a generalized desperation that seeks only to silence us, as we inform the population of the reality of what is happening inside and outside the country. .”

Amid the situation in Nicaragua, Puerta recommends creating information networks, supporting independent media and being careful about the information shared, so as not to add to the tools of disinformation that already exist.

“In this environment where the regime has an iron fist, in order to prevent the dissemination of content [with disinformation], we must take responsibility for what we broadcast; so that people can have access to truthful, real and verifiable information,” concluded Puerta.

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