Freedom of the Press
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Press Freedom Score (0 = best, 100 = worst)
Legal Environment(0 = best, 30 = worst)
Political Environment(0 = best, 40 = worst)
Economic Environment(0 = best, 30 = worst)
- The constitution provides for freedom of the press but allows restrictions through libel laws.
- Judges are often aligned with political parties, and some have barred journalists from covering certain stories. Cases of judicial intimidation have also been reported. However, in February 2009, after an international outcry, the attorney general’s office dropped criminal charges against CINCO, a nonprofit media research organization run by Carlos Fernando Chamorro, one of the most critical journalists in the country. The government had launched an inquiry into whether CINCO and other nonprofit organizations illegally channeled foreign funding to civil society groups.
- The administration of President Daniel Ortega continued to demonize the independent and opposition press during the year, calling certain journalists and media outlets “enemies” of the government while favoring progovernment outlets. In July, the president described the independent media as “terrorists, agents of the CIA,” and “sons of Goebbels.”
- Ortega’s administration is highly secretive, and he has given no press conferences since taking office in 2007, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. There have been reports of preferential treatment for journalists who are loyal to the ruling party. For example, the Ministry of Health excluded independent media from its 2009 press conference announcing the arrival of the H1N1 influenza virus.
- A bill proposed by Martha Marina González, a Sandinista legislator and the party’s representative in the country’s official Journalists’ Guild, would require media professionals to belong to the guild in order to work as a journalist.
- The government often harasses critical media outlets. In June officials shut down Radio La Ley in Sebaco, and armed civilians seized the station’s equipment. Four opposition radio stations—Radio Amor, Radio La Portenisima, Radio Hit, and Radio Kabu Yula—ceased operations under government pressure during the year.
- Ivan Olivares, a journalist for the magazine Confidencial, was stabbed by progovernment protesters while covering their clashes with opposition supporters. In August, members of the civil society group Coordinadora Civil, including the journalist Mario Sanchez Paz, were attacked on the grounds of a cathedral by government supporters and employees of the Managua mayor’s office. Police were present but did not intervene.
- There are 10 Managua-based television stations as well as more than 100 radio stations, which serve as the population’s main source of news. Print media are diverse, with several daily papers presenting progovernment and critical perspectives. Newspaper ownership is concentrated in the hands of various factions of the Chamorro family, while the prominent Sacasa family dominates the television industry. Mexican media mogul Angel Gonzalez, noted for his holdings in Guatemala and Costa Rica, also owns significant outlets in Nicaragua. Several media outlets are owned and controlled by Ortega’s family and party, the Sandinista National Liberation Front. The government owns the official Radio Nicaragua.
- There are no government restrictions on the internet, which was used by less than 4 percent of the population in 2009.