Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 January 2018, 20:36 GMT

Attacks on the Press in 1997 - Nicaragua

Publisher Committee to Protect Journalists
Publication Date February 1998
Cite as Committee to Protect Journalists, Attacks on the Press in 1997 - Nicaragua, February 1998, available at: [accessed 18 January 2018]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

President Arnoldo Alemán, who took office on January 10, promised during his campaign to put an end to the vestiges of Sandinista rule. Critics allege that he has tried to do so by withholding government advertising from Sandinista-controlled media outlets.

Soon after taking office, Alemán announced that, in order to save money, all state advertising would be channeled through five government agencies. Journalists with television station Channel 4 and the newspaper Barricada – run by the Sandinista party that ruled Nicaragua until 1988 – allege that the agencies are a pretext to justify a government plan to bankrupt them by withholding all advertising.

In 1994, then-president Violeta Chamorro signed the Chapultepec Declaration, affirming her government's commitment not to use state advertising to punish or reward media outlets for their coverage.

Another relic from the Sandinista era – and one that Alemán has not challenged – is the legal framework that guarantees freedom of expression. The 1987 constitution grants the right to "truthful information" to all Nicaraguans and defines journalism as a "social responsibility" which can be regulated by the state. Article 68 notes, "The media ... are at the service of national interests [and] the state will promote access to the people and their representatives to ensure they are not subject to foreign or monopolistic interests." These provisions offer a theoretical legal justification for the government to take punitive measures against journalists or media outlets that publish information deemed to be false, irresponsible, or contrary to the national interest.

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