Ortega refuses entry of foreign press into country to cover elections

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The Ortega regime blocked the entry of the foreign press to cover the elections on Sunday, November 7. A dozen reporters and photojournalists, from various international media, attempted to enter the country, but immigration authorities did not allow it, despite reporting that the teams complied with all requirements. immigration and health.

Frédéric Saliba, Mexican correspondent for the French newspaper Le Monde, will not be able to cover the poll this Sunday because he was not allowed to enter the country. On October 16, the day before his trip, the airline informed him that his ticket had been canceled due to a decision by Nicaraguan authorities for “immigration reasons”. There were no further explanations, even though the journalist had met all the conditions to enter the country.

The journalist was in Nicaragua during the 2016 elections, in which Daniel Ortega took his third term in office. He traveled again in 2018 to report the social explosion.

The elections this Sunday, during which Ortega seeks to perpetuate himself as president with his wife, Rosario Murillo, as vice-president, were questioned by the international community for lack of minimum conditions of transparency. The opposition calls them a “farce” and “circus”. The process lacks national and international election observation.

El Heraldo’s reporting team kicked out

On Thursday October 28, a team from the Honduran newspaper El Heraldo – a photojournalist, a driver and a reporter – entered the country through the El Guasuale border post in Chinandega, but arriving at the Office of the immigration, Captain Osman Saez expelled them. They all met immigration requirements.

Saez took journalist Carlos Giron to an office and asked for his personal information, in addition to questioning him about his work at the newspaper and the reason for his visit to Nicaragua. At one point, the captain wanted to pick up the reporter’s phone, but the report prevented him from doing so. The man wanted to make sure he wasn’t recording the conversation and told him he was forbidden to do so, to turn it off, Giron told Confidencial.

Then a person appeared who the captain identified as his “boss”, and he turned to the team of reporters and said to them: “From this point on you will be deported from Nicaragua. Your presence is not welcome here and, with a snap of your fingers, said to go now, ”said Giron. He also said they are “banned” because they have a record which implies that they will not be able to enter the country in the future. The authorities kept and registered them until their departure.

This is the first time that a team from the Honduran newspaper has been expelled from the country. On previous occasions, journalists have come and performed their work without inconvenience, the reporter explained. His case and that of Saliba are the most recent, but not the only ones. In early October, an international CNN team also wanted to reach Nicaragua, by the land border with Costa Rica, but it was not allowed to pass, according to a report from Le Monde.

Confidential has confirmed other cases of foreign correspondents, who have not made their experiences public, but who have also not been allowed to enter Nicaragua. On June 17, the Nicaraguan government did not approve the entry of New York Times journalist Anatoly Kurmanaev.

Part of the media agenda

Saliba and Nicaraguan journalist Tifani Robers, of the Univision network, agreed that the regime is using the pandemic as a filter to decide whether or not to allow entry into the country. Part of the health requirements that the Ortega government demands from foreigners and nationals is a negative result of the PCR test and their personal data. These as well as the list of flights must be sent by the airline to national authorities 72 hours before the flight, at which time journalists believe they will resort to investigating the identity of the travelers.

Roberts, who has covered several electoral processes, explained that the Nicaraguan elections have been on the agenda of the American and European media since the 1980s, but this year “they will not be able (to be in the country) because there there is no access.

“Just as we Nicaraguans have suffered an unprecedented crackdown, journalists have also experienced an unprecedented lack of access,” said Roberts.

Saliba said the position of the Ortega government “is of great concern for press freedom in Nicaragua. It is also a formidable sign of a radicalization of the regime towards freedom of the press.

Along the same lines, Roberts pointed out that “the international media that want to enter Nicaragua, regardless of their independence, the government sees them as enemies because they are not aligned with them. “Either you are with me or you are my enemy. This is the position the government has taken, and nothing has changed from 2018 to date. It just got sharper.

The two journalists assured that, although it was not possible to enter the country, the electoral process will still be covered. “It doesn’t stop us from working, but it covers our eyes,” said Saliba, who continues to write about the political situation in Nicaragua.

Roberts stressed that “there is no way the world does not know what is going to happen in Nicaragua on November 7th”.

Without press accreditation

Before the social explosion of 2018, all requests for accreditation of coverage for the foreign press were made through Idania Castillo, co-director of the Cinémathèque nationale. However, she is currently not responding to inquiries from interested journalists about whether there is an accreditation process for election coverage, confirmed a Nicaraguan journalist who, for fear of reprisal, asked to omit his identity.

The same source explained that it does not know if the Supreme Electoral Council (SSC) organized special accreditation for the national press, as happened in 2016, when the presidential couple again authorized news agencies. , the foreign press and local journalists to photograph them, after exercising their right to vote in the polling station that the CSE has installed exclusively for Ortega and Murillo, inside the seatbelt of their home / office in El Carmen in Managua.

Another source told Confidencial that other journalists across the country wrote to Castillo asking about the accreditation process for Nov. 7, but she only replied, “Thank you for your interest.”

This article was originally published in Spanish on our website. It was translated into English by Havana weather


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