International outrage for the accusations against Sergio Ramírez

14 September 2021

International condemnation was sparked by the judicial accusation and arrest warrant issued by the government of Daniel Ortega against writer Sergio Ramírez, winner of the 2017 Cervantes Prize, accused by the Public Prosecutor’s Office of “inciting hatred” on 8 September 2021.

Hundreds of novelists, poets and journalists have spoken out in solidarity with the laureate author of Castigo Divino and holder of a literary career spanning more than half a century, who now faces “forced exile” from his native Nicaragua.

Ramírez, who will be 80 years old next August, told the television program Esta Semana and the website Confidencial that the real reason for the unusual accusation lies in his most recent novel, Tongolele no sabía bailar, in which he recreates episodes of government repression that took place in 2018, when at least 328 civilians were killed for participating in protests. “They are not going to silence me, I will continue to denounce,” said Ramírez, after pointing out that the government has withheld a batch of these books at customs to prevent the work from being read in Nicaragua.

The novel will be presented on 16 September in Madrid, where Ramírez is based. This week he coincided with Cuban writer Leonardo Padura, who has publicly backed him. “Many years ago I decided to stop signing collective letters (but) if there is a letter supporting you, your work, your figure, your personality, I will sign it, and I have already signed it”, Padura told him.

Read PEN International’s statement on Sergio Ramírez here.

Human Rights Report: “The worst context to practice journalism”

The Human Rights Collective “Nicaragua Nunca +”, a human rights organization based in Costa Rica, denounced that at least 100 Nicaraguan journalists have been forced into exile in Costa Rica, the United States and Spain, a quarter of them in 2021, due to Ortega’s government sustained “persecution, harassment and prosecution” by.

“In Nicaragua we are facing the worst possible context for journalism,” the group said in a report presented on the occasion of International Journalists’ Day, in which it stated that the independent press is “under fierce attack” by the government.

The NGO stressed that in the last three months it has documented acts of “disqualification, persecution, harassment, criminalization and prosecution” of journalists, aimed at silencing them. Such actions coincided with the arrests of 36 opponents that started last May, in the context of the electoral process that will conclude on 7 November.

Tweets and interviews used as “evidence” against journalists

In the hearings held on September 7 against imprisoned journalists Miguel Mora and Miguel Mendoza, the Nicaraguan Attorney General’s Office presented messages posted on Twitter by both journalists as evidence of alleged crimes.

The defense of Miguel Mora, whom the government imprisoned for the first time in 2018-2019, denounced that the Public Prosecutor’s Office used a video interview filmed three years ago and “taken out of context” to justify the government’s accusation.

In the case of sports reporter Miguel Mendoza, his lawyer revealed that the prosecutor tried to prove the crime of “conspiracy”, offering as alleged evidence 10 tweets and a Facebook post, in which the reporter warned that Daniel Ortega could be sanctioned with the RENACER Act in the United States.

Mora and Mendoza are among the six communicators who the government intends to convict using the Cybercrime Law and other provisions passed in late 2020. The other defendants are Cristiana Chamorro (under house arrest), her brothers Pedro Joaquín Chamorro (imprisoned) and Carlos Fernando Chamorro (exiled) and political commentator Jaime Arellano.•

Translation: Verónica Maza Bustamante and Alessandro Zagato

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