Nicaragua | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press



Freedom of the Press 2004

2004 Scores

Press Status

Partly Free

Press Freedom Score
(0 = best, 100 = worst)


Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)


Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)


The press is slowly acquiring more freedom in Nicaragua under the government of President Enrique Bolanos. Press freedoms established under the constitution are widely upheld, although some seldom-used provisions exist that allow the government to censor the media for "accuracy." Privately owned print and broadcast media offer many political perspectives to the public, including criticisms of its current government. One disturbing trend, however, has developed in 2003: threats of serious violence were directed at reporters and editors of the national news daily, La Prensa, after it began investigating connections between drug traffickers and local police institutions along Nicaragua's Caribbean coast. A former Contra, Tito Moreno Aguilar, forced his way into the newsroom of La Prensa and took several reporters hostage after these stories began to run. He was later tried for the incident and ruled not guilty by a jury, in a trial marked by irregularities and evidence of corruption. Yet in a sign of the increasingly robust rule of law in Nicaragua, the Supreme Court overruled a decision by the treasury department to assess half a million dollars in back taxes against La Prensa, which had reported on alleged corruption at the agency under its former head, Arnoldo Aleman, who was also Nicaragua's president in late 1990s and whose supporters continue to exert wide political power in the country. No final decision has been made on an appeal to the Supreme Court on the alleged unconstitutionality of Law No. 372, which established an official Nicaraguan College of Journalists during the last year of Aleman's presidency.