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CPJ Special Report: Daniel Ortega's Media War

Nicaragua's president ignores the news media, except to harass his critics.

(CPJ/IFEX) - New York, July 1, 2009 - Driven by decades-old hostilities, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega has defined independent news media as enemies and has moved aggressively to obstruct them and minimize their influence. In a new report from the Committee to Protect Journalists, Carlos Lauría and Joel Simon outline the government's aggressive tactics against independent media, including systemic legal harassment, smear campaigns, and manipulation of government advertising.

During his current three-year tenure, CPJ found, Ortega has ignored private media and made himself an isolated and secretive figure. He has never given an official press conference, his political agenda is virtually unknown, and his government officials are inaccessible. The administration maintains contact with only a handful of pro-government outlets controlled by the president's family or party. Even with those outlets, Ortega does not grant interviews, relying on sympathetic journalists to publish his statements and cover his events.

"Latin American leaders across the political spectrum, from Venezuela's Hugo Chávez to Colombia's Alvaro Uribe, have pursued similar media strategies. But the degree to which Ortega has sought to insulate himself from public scrutiny is unusual in the region," write Lauría and Simon. "His policies have threatened institutions that serve as a check on power and have jeopardized foreign aid important to the country's economic well-being."

CPJ is a New York-based, independent, nonprofit organization that works to safeguard press freedom worldwide.

Daniel Ortega's Media War
La Guerra de Daniel Ortega Contra los Medios

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