Nicaraguan press covering protests is targeted by death threats, beatings and detentions as nationwide death toll rises

Nicaraguan press workers organized a sit-in in Managua as detentions of and attacks on journalists continue, with two detentions in the past week.

Independent journalists gathered at a roundabout in Managua on July 30 to demand respect for press freedom from the government of President Daniel Ortega, reported 100% Noticias.

“The intention of the government of Daniel Ortega is for journalists to be afraid, but this sit-in is to ask for respect for our work, because all we do is to inform people, if Mr. Ortega does not like the information, that is regrettable, because we are in a country where freedom of expression is a right and is in the Constitution,” said journalist Luis Galeano, director of the Café con Voz program, according to 100% Noticias.

The demonstration comes just one day after journalist Roberto Collado Urbina was detained by hooded men, suffered wounds to the head and was beaten, as reported by Canal 10.

Collado Urbina, who is a correspondent for Canal 10, was covering a march in support of bishops when vans with hooded men stopped him, beat him and detained him, even though he identified himself as a journalist, according to his report aired by Canal 10. He said he was hit on the head with a pistol. El Nuevo Diario cited a witness as saying that Collado Urbina had said there were threats against his life posted to Facebook and he had received other threats.

Following Collado Urbina’s release later that night from a police station, the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (Cenidh, for its acronym in Spanish) condemned attacks on freedoms of expression and of the pressand called for an end to repression and threats against journalists.

Police arrested another correspondent for Canal 10 the previous week in Jinotega, according to La Prensa. Francisco Daniel Espinoza Rivera was accused of abduction, assault, torture, attempted murder and battery, 100% Noticias reported.

These are the latest attacks and pronouncements against the targeting of journalists after months of protests against the Ortega government that began in April.

Independent journalists held press conferences in June and May calling attention to attacks on press workers and demanding guarantees to carry out their work.

The most lethal attack to date has been the murder of journalist Ángel Gahona who was killed in Bluefields on April 21. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) granted precautionary measures to his widow and family members who were targets of intimidation.

The IACHR report, “Gross human rights violations in the context of social protests in Nicaragua,” said that “independent media have suffered from interference by State agents and by violent acts perpetrated by third parties.”

In June, the commission set up the Special Follow-up Mechanism for Nicaragua (MESENI) to follow recommendations based on its visit to the country in May and to monitor compliance with precautionary measures.

Since protests began in mid-April, 448 people have died, according to the Nicaraguan Pro-Human Rights Association.

Over the weekend, protestors marched in solidarity with the Roman Catholic Church, which has been mediating talks between the government and opposition, according to the BBC. Bishops are accused by the government of supporting the opposition, the publication explained.