November 27, 20205:04 AM ET
Heard on Morning Edition
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
Nicaragua faces a natural disaster amid a Democratic disaster. Daniel Ortega is president of Nicaragua. He came to power in a 1979 revolution and was later voted out. Later still, after the country established more democratic government, he won election as president in 2007. Since then, his government has become increasingly authoritarian. It has cracked down on independent media outlets like Confidencial, whose leader is Carlos Fernando Chamorro. The repression made it difficult to respond to two massive hurricanes that struck Nicaragua and also made it harder for Chamorro’s teams to cover it.
CARLOS FERNANDO CHAMORRO: I sent reporters to the coast town of Haulover that has been completely destroyed. Haulover was the place where the hurricane, Iota, impact with winds of 250 kilometers per hour. We also sent another team to the area of Matagalpa, where a mudslide killed 11 people in a community. So you have different impacts in different places. When we were reporting, we had to face the repression by the police. The government have maintained the censorship to the press. They don’t want the press to go to the places and talk to the victims because they just want to have control of the information and give us their own version of the truth.
INSKEEP: What is it that police of the government of Daniel Ortega are doing to your reporters, just turning them back when they go along the roads to different places?
CHAMORRO: Yes, that’s exactly what happened. They simply said, you cannot go in. And they also expelled our reporters in a place where the victims have gathered together and they were mourning their deaths. They said, you cannot talk to them. Just get out of here.
INSKEEP: To the extent that you’ve been able to determine it, given that kind of blockage, how well has the government been able to respond to the needs of people?
CHAMORRO: The Nicaraguan government, it’s not a democratic government. It’s a very obscure regime. The Nicaraguan president, Daniel Ortega, have never addressed the nation during these three weeks of emergency. There is this confusion between the state duties and the political party and the caudillo leaders of the country. And people are saying that they’re discriminating others because of their political beliefs.