With this cartoon, published on 25 February, the cartoonist denounced the threats.
Cartoonist Pedro Molina denounced having received threats from supporters of the government of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo and pointed to the couple as responsible for anything that might happen to him or to people close to him.
Molina admits that he has always received threats on social networks due to the nature of his work, where fanatics of the regime “prescribe him lead” or warn him that they are going to “enchipotar” him, alluding to the Dirección de Auxilio Judicial, known as “El Chipote”, a place where political prisoners are incarcerated. Something that, according to the cartoonist, should not be considered normal, although sadly it has become normalised.
Raising the tone of the threats
But the author now warns that the threats have gone much further and that is why he has decided to make a public denunciation. According to the cartoonist, a person sympathetic to the regime sent him a message that included personal details such as the address of his home, work, and places he visits in his daily routine, and most worryingly, mentioning very specific details of people who are part of his close circle, which is why Molina now takes these threats as “serious and dangerous”.
Chamorro, from Sandinista to persecuted by Sandinismo
Molina works for the weekly Confidentialwhose premises have been occupied by the Orteguista Police (PO) since 14 December 2018.
Confidencial page nº 1105 from 23 to 29 December 2018 (PDF full text)
Its director, Carlos Fernando Chamorro, went into exile in Costa Rica in January of this year due to pressure and threats, as more than 50 Nicaraguan journalists have already done, in their day told the story as follows the assault on the editorial office of Confidencial.
Some images of Confidencial’s premises after the police raid
Carlos Fernando Chamorro occupied positions within the new state structure after the triumph of the Sandinista Revolution in 1979 and the formation of a Transitional Government Junta, becoming director of Barricada, the official newspaper of the Sandinista Front. Since then, the family has been divided by his political stance.
Moreover, it is a paradox that Carlos Fernando Chamorro, founder of Confidencial in 1996, is the son of the married couple formed by Pedro Joaquín Chamorro, journalist, owner and director of the Nicaraguan newspaper La Prensa, and Violeta Chamorro, the former president of Nicaragua between 1990 and 1997.
Pedro Joaquín Chamorro, an opponent of the Somoza regime and leader of the Democratic Liberation Union (UDEL), was shot dead by an unknown gunman in 1978, the crime sparking riots over accusations that his execution had been ordered by the then dictator Anastasio Somoza.
Interview with Pedro Molina
I have contacted Pedro X. Molina by mail and he has agreed to answer some questions. Molina and he has agreed to answer some questions, here are his answers.
You say that the threatening message included personal details, such as your home, work and routine addresses and details of people in your closest circle. How did they send you these threats?
In the past I have been sent messages electronically, now it was verbally to someone close to my family. On both occasions, the communications have included precise and abundant information about my private life.
what were the specific threats?
To describe them in detail would mean giving details of my private life and close circle myself. That is why I cannot share them publicly.
who is the person who passed the threats on to you?
A person linked to the governing party.
have you ever considered limiting your opinions or leaving Nicaragua?
I have decided to continue doing what I do, although to continue doing it I have had to take refuge in a place that I cannot specify.
do you think there may be other cartoonists who are censoring themselves?
The newspaper I worked for before I quit to work online at Confidencial.com.ni (one of the two main print newspapers in Nicaragua) stopped publishing cartoons altogether. The print newspapers are also suffering from a blockade of raw materials for printing and are affected economically. So I don’t know if it was just cost-cutting or also a matter of self-censorship, but they stopped doing it. The other main daily is still publishing cartoons.
are there many editorial cartoonists who regularly deal with political issues from other media?
One interesting thing that has happened during this crisis that started in April 2018 is that cartoons gained a lot of prominence on the networks. To the point that in addition to mine in Confidencial, at least a couple of other online media critical of the dictatorship also began to publish cartoons and even, on the side of the dictatorship, they were forced to look for someone to do cartoons for them to “counteract” a bit those of independent journalism.
The weekly Confidencial was occupied by the police in December 2018 and they seized equipment, documents and other work material. Have they already returned the seized material?
No. Not even a pencil has been returned.
are the offices of Confidencial still occupied by the police, are they closed or sealed?
Yes. From 14 December 2018 until the time of this interview, our offices are still physically occupied by armed members of what I call the “police guard” of the dictatorship.
how is the work of the weekly organised now? Does each journalist or contributor work from home?
For security reasons I can’t go into the details of how all the work is done, but we have taken whatever measures we can to ensure that we continue to do it from where we are and with what we have.
“The President’s children and his wife, the Vice-President, run most of the national radio and television channels
how did the media position itself after the protests began on 18 April 2018 and during the following months?
The pro-government media of course defend the dictatorship because they are literally in the hands of the dictatorial family. That is, they are run by the children of the president and his wife the vice-president. We are talking about most of the national channels and several radio stations.
On the other side, independent journalism (wrongly called opposition, because this word has a political connotation linked to opposition parties that technically do not exist in Nicaragua because they were bought by the dictatorship) have been the chroniclers of the barbarism unleashed in the last 11 months. This of course has not pleased the dictatorship, which is why we have closed, confiscated, censored media, a journalist murdered while broadcasting live, other journalists kidnapped in the dungeons of the dictatorship and many others in exile.
Molina’s cartoon on the murder of Ángel Gahona, a journalist who was shot dead on Saturday 21 April 2018 while broadcasting a protest live on Facebook Live
what is the day-to-day situation in your city, the second largest in Nicaragua?
The situation is the same in all the cities of the country, the dictatorship has literally criminalised any form of protest. Those killed (mostly by paramilitary snipers in the marches), including children and even babies, number in the hundreds, those politically kidnapped number in the hundreds and those in exile number in the thousands. So there is a lot of pent-up anger and a lot of fear.
what is the status of Ortega’s dialogue and negotiations with the Civic Alliance on the release of untried political prisoners?
The dictatorship is using political prisoners as bargaining chips to buy impunity for its crimes.
Related, more than 100 cases worldwide.