In December, MediaFile reported that nearly 60,000 Nicaraguans fled their home country to escape the authoritarian regime of Daniel Ortega. Among those refugees is one of the country’s most prominent independent journalists, Carlos Fernando Chamorro.
Nicaragua’s most renowned journalist, @cefeche, forced into exile in Costa Rica, joining more than 50 Nica journalists who have fled the tyrannical Ortega regime. My undying respect and admiration for Carlos Fernando and all of Nicaragua’s independent journalists. True heroes all https://t.co/SEDQxlKy7K
— Tim Rogers (@nicadispatch) January 21, 2019
Last month, the offices of the independent outlet, Confidencial, which was founded and directed by Chamorro, were raided by government forces. Despite this attack, Chamorro states that he “maintained [Confidencial’s] commitment to continue doing journalism, and to keep alive these last spaces of freedom and critical thinking under the dictatorship,” according to an op-ed published on the outlet’s website.
However, under scrutiny from the government, Chamorro believed he had no other option than to flee to Costa Rica. Chamorro says this move was made “to protect [his] physical integrity and [his] freedom, and above all to be able to continue to exercise independent journalism from Costa Rica.”
He announced his exile while broadcasting from Costa Rica, where he has been welcomed by local authorities. The journalist did not give details of the exact threats that convinced him to go into exile.
— Carlos F Chamorro (@cefeche) January 21, 2019
Chamorro intends to maintain coverage of Ortega’s regime from afar, stating he will continue “investigating and denouncing crimes, corruption and impunity, and documenting the terminal crisis of the Ortega dictatorship.” The only change in his coverage will occur while broadcasting Este Noche, which will transition from a daily to a weekly schedule.
Ortega has significantly strengthened his grip on the country in the past year, brutally cracking down on demonstrations with live ammunition and targeting journalists and news outlets. He has ordered targeted harassment campaigns against independent outlets and raiding the offices of others, including Confidencial, confiscating documents and equipment.
This past Monday marked one month since the closing of 100% Noticias and the imprisonment of its two directors, Miguel Mora and Lucia Pineda. In a statement from prison, the pair said, “Resist. We are resisting.”
Meanwhile, the constant harassment and targeting of journalists continues in Nicaragua under Ortega. On Thursday, state police occupied the offices of Canal 12, interrogating and harassing reporters as they entered the building.
Policía asedia Canal 12 y militariza Managua https://t.co/3BYr8gptCt
— Carlos F Chamorro (@cefeche) January 24, 2019
Although consistently intimidated and threatened by officers, journalists continue to stand strong against the regime. When asked by officers if he was armed, Wilmer Benavides, a journalist with Canal 12, answered, “my only weapon is the microphone and the camera.”