A New York Times report on the hunger strike in Masaya by relatives of political prisoners, published on Thursday, details the attacks suffered by journalist Frances Robles, a correspondent for that newspaper in Central America while reporting in Nicaragua.
Robles was attacked twice by supporters of Daniel Ortega in the presence of the Police, without the officers intervening to stop the aggression.
The report, which begins by describing the tense environment in the city of Masaya, contrasts the government propaganda that “Nicaragua is the safest country in Central America” with the reality that is lived in that department.
“Nicaragua is far from safe: by reporting on the siege of the church, I was assaulted two days in a row,” Robles wrote.
Then the reporter describes the aggressions suffered: “The first time it was a quick blow from an angry woman for having her picture taken. A day later, a crowd of activists from the Sandinista Front party who had gathered outside the chapel (San Miguel) surrounded me, pushed me to the ground and tried to take my phone. Then someone threw a cobblestone through the windshield of my rented car while I fled.”
“The police, who were present, did not intervene,” explains Robles.
The attacks on the reporter were not only caused by regime fanatics. Eight days after the second attack, the traffic was closed for two blocks around the San Miguel Church and dozens of police officers lined up outside the temple. Police did not allow anyone to enter, but they said protesters were welcome at any time, Robles tried to approach the temple and a police officer rebuked her.
“Don’t write in your notebook that we lock them inside,” said a police officer. “If they [the hunger strikers] want to leave, they can leave. Then he ordered me to leave.” The New York Times reporter wrote.
The attacks on Robles are a sign of the impunity with which the fanatics of the Ortega regime operate. Sheltered by the governmental slogan “don’t mess with the peace” they prescribe bullets and beatings to those who protest or – as in the case of Robles – those who inform about the reality that the regime prefers to hide.
Violence against journalists
A report by the Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation lists 328 violations of press freedom between July to September of this year. The statistics show that attacks and harassment against independent journalism in Nicaragua continue unabated.
In the report of the Independent Press Freedom Observatory in Nicaragua, of Independent Journalists and Communicators (PCIN), 13 cases of documented attacks on female journalists were identified.
Of these, four of them committed aggression identified as sexual violence, which includes blackmail, manhandling, threats of rape, harassment, and cyberbullying. “These crimes were perpetrated by paramilitaries, public officials, parapolicias, fanatical supporters of the government party and national police officers, against women journalists and occurred while working,” the report said.
One of the most recent attacks was against the journalist Kastalia Zapata, of Channel 12, who was robbed by three police officers.
Sources: Confidencial; La Prensa