TODAY NICARAGUA – Nicaragua’s private television Channel 12, critical of Daniel Ortega’s government, warned this Monday that it is on the verge of closure, following the decision of the Justice to auction its assets for a tax relief of US$1.4 million dollars.
The auction could be carried out within three weeks, warned Tony López, the legal representative of Nicavision S.A., to which the channel belongs. The measure was ordered months ago by a civil court in Managua, under the protection of two lawsuits promoted by the General Directorate of Revenues (DGI).
“The sentences resolve to go ahead with the execution and auction the seized assets” last year to the channel and its owner Mariano Valle for a tax debt, López explained to Channel 12 itself.
In September, the Justice seized the goods and equipment of the television channel, as well as the properties of its owner for a value of more than 50 million córdobas (US$1.4 million).
The seizure was higher than the US$600,000 that the DGI legally claims for the payment of Income Tax that was allegedly not declared in the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 fiscal years.
The television station has said it owes nothing and has attributed the legal actions to an “arbitrary” measure by the government.
The trials have an “eminently political intention to silence” an independent media outlet, López said.
Channel 12, founded 26 years ago, was one of the independent media that documented the repression of the anti-government protests that shook the country in 2018, demanding the resignation of the president, and that left at least 328 dead and hundreds of imprisoned, according to humanitarian groups.
The legal representative pointed out that the court “rejected the evidence” that the channel presented in the trials to show that they “owe nothing” to the treasury, “leaving this media defenseless”.
“There is a serious situation and irreparable damage to the channel and its owner,” said López. If the auction takes place, “the channel would be forced to close,” he detailed.
The administration of Daniel Ortega, who could tempt a fourth consecutive term in November, exercises control over the majority of the media in Nicaragua, and representatives of the few critical media that remain in the country denounce harassment and persecution.
In 2018, the premises where the digital newspaper Confidencial and the 100% Noticias television channel operated, also critical of the government, were seized by the Ortega government.