Nicaragua is a Central American country that rarely makes global headlines.
But on April 18 last year, protests erupted in the capital, Managua, and spread around the country – against the government of President Daniel Ortega.
Human rights organisations say the Ortega government is attacking freedom of expression, the government accuses the media of being complicit in a US-backed coup attempt. Since then, outlets have been shut down, journalists have been threatened or jailed and some have had to flee the country.
One of those journalists is Carlos Fernando Chamorro. He is one of the country’s most outspoken reporters and has been covering the demonstrations – and the crackdown that followed – which have seen 500 protesters jailed and claimed more than 300 lives. In January this year, he fled the country saying he had been receiving “extreme threats”. He is now broadcasting the story of Nicaragua online from Costa Rica.
There is a wider context to this story that gives us an insight into the history of both journalism and politics in Nicaragua.
The Chamorros have owned media outlets, including the oldest conservative paper in the country, La Prensa, as far back as 1926.
Chamorro’s father was also an outspoken journalist, working during the four-decade Somoza dictatorship. He was assassinated in 1978 and the widespread protests that followed his death paved the way for Daniel Ortega, then a left-wing socialist revolutionary, to come to power.
That’s the journalism part of the story. But the Chamorro family have also been one of the most politically powerful since the country’s independence – with a string of presidents to their name, including Violeta, Carlos Fernando’s mother.
With one foot in journalism and the other in politics, they don’t just speak truth to power. The Chamorros have held it.
The Listening Post’s Marcela Pizarro tells the story of a family that lives and works at the intersection of journalism and politics in Nicaragua.
Carlos Fernando Chamorro – Investigative journalist
Arturo Wallace-Salinas – Author of The Media in Nicaragua
Patricia Orozco – Journalist, Onda Local
Moises Absalon – Presenter, Detalles del Momento
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