By Teresa Mioli and Paola Nalvarte
Hours before the start of a ceremony to recognize the best journalism in Nicaragua, riot police -- a constant during protests that have rocked the Central American country since April -- started to surround the ceremony location.
Yet, as some of their colleagues are put in jail and others have newsrooms occupied by police, journalists in Nicaragua took a moment to honor some of the best reporting from the previous year.
The Violeta B. Chamorro Foundation, a freedom of expression organization located in Managua, announced the winners of the “Pedro Joaquín Chamorro Cardenal” Excellence in Journalism Awards on the afternoon of Jan. 9 at the Hispamer book store.
The awards are named after Pedro Joaquín Chamorro, editor of newspaper La Prensa who was assassinated during the Somoza regime. (Screenshot)
"Without freedom of expression there is no freedom of action, no political freedom, no freedom of the press. We are living something we have never seen," Cristiana Chamorro, daughter of the deceased journalist Pedro Joaquín Chamorro Cardenal, said at the beginning of the ceremony about the current situation in her country.
In the category of public transparency and sustainability, the winner was “El festín navideño de Rosario Murillo con el presupuesto de Nicaragua” (The Christmas feast of Rosario Murillo with the Nicaraguan budget), written by Marling Balmaceda, Ana Cruz and Álvaro Navarro, for the site Artículo 66.
The report ¡Disparaban con precisión: a matar! (They shoot with precision: to kill!), by Wilfredo Miranda Aburto and published on site Confidencial, won in the human rights category.
Honorable mention in the category went to magazine Niu for the series #PresosPolíticos (Political Prisoners).
The award in the health category went to Carlos Salinas and Carlos Herrera of Confidencial for “Negligencia médica intencional” (Intentional medical malpractice).
The special “Sobreviví” (I survived) from magazine Niu took the prize in the gender category.
And in the municipal governance category, Wilfredo Miranda Aburto won for his story “Piñata FSLN en alcaldías” (FSLN Piñata in town halls), published by Confidencial.
The Foundation offered the awards “in tribute to the journalists in prison, those who have been killed and those forced into exile and in memory of Ángel Gahona.”
Gahona was killed in Bluefields, Nicaragua on April 21 while covering protests via Facebook Live. Two young men were found guilty of the murder, but the journalist’s widow disagreed with the verdict and had criticized the trial as a “mockery.”
Miguel Mora, owner and director of 100% Noticias, and Lucía Pineda, news director of the same channel, have been imprisoned since Dec. 21 and face charges of “fomenting and inciting hate and violence” and “provocation, proposition and conspiracy to commit terrorist acts.”
And according to the Independent Journalists and Communicators of Nicaragua (PCIN, for its initials in Spanish), almost 60 journalists have left Nicaragua due to repression from the government, as reported by Onda Local.
Among the jurors for the awards were journalists José Luis Sanz, director of site El Faro in El Salvador; Ginna Morelo, editor of newspaper El Tiempo and president of Consejo de Redacción in Colombia; and Maye Primera, editor for Latin America at Univisión Noticias.