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Nicaragua steps up press crackdown ahead of November 7 presidential election

Arrests of journalists have escalated since the summer.

TODAY NICARAGUA – Nicaragua continues its repressive escalation against the press ahead of the presidential election on November 7. Since this summer, seven opposition candidates have been jailed or placed under house arrest.

A journalist from “Le Monde” was barred from entering Nicaragua ahead of the presidential election, as arrests of journalists have escalated since the summer.

Two Nicaraguan journalists, including Juan Lorenzo Holmann, director of La Prensa, the country’s largest daily, are in preventive detention (prison).

The regime also prefers to keep out the foreign press. Nicaraguan authorities refused entry to their territory on Sunday, October 17, to a journalist from Le Monde.

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Frédéric Saliba, correspondent in Mexico City since 2009, was told, the day before his flight to Managua, that his plane ticket had been canceled by the airline, justifying a decision by the Nicaraguan authorities for “migratory reasons”. Saliba had yet fulfilled all the health and legal rules required by the regime of President Ortega.

The same mishap occurred in June to a New York Times reporter and in early October to a CNN crew that attempted to enter Nicaragua by land, via neighboring Costa Rica. Le Monde has also filed a request with the Nicaraguan embassy in Paris to go there. The request remains unanswered

These refusals reveal the very worrying hardening of a regime that gags the opposition and the press. Daniel Ortega and his wife, Rosario Murillo, who will be by his side on the ballots for a second term as vice-president, have been facing a popular and peaceful revolt since 2018 demanding their departure from power, accusing them of “authoritarianism” and “corruption”.

At the time, the crackdown on protests left 328 people dead and nearly 2,000 injured, pushing thousands of Nicaraguans into exile, the majority in Costa Rica. Until then, the international media had been able to enter the country to cover the various waves of repression by the authorities.

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But since early June, the regime has toughened its tone against critical voices, arresting 39 opposition leaders, journalists, student leaders and business leaders. The first of them was Cristiana Chamorro, the most popular of the opposition presidential and legislative candidates. Cristiana is the daughter of Violeta Barrios de Chamorro, former President of Nicaragua (1990-1997) who ousted Ortega from power at the polls, before he took over the country seventeen years later.

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