The recent visit to Nicaragua by Eyder Peralta, a US citizen born in Nicaragua and working as a journalist, reveals a country living in fear under the highly controlling Sandinista party.
Personal insights: Peralta returned to Nicaragua using his Nicaraguan passport while knowing the country was making it nearly impossible for foreign journalists to enter.
* Upon entering the country, Peralta expresses his sense of vulnerability as a journalist returning to his birth nation where the governmental grip was tightening against any form of dissent.
* He shared his family’s past struggle under the Sandinista government, choosing exile in the US to avoid persecution.
Reporting conditions: Journalists in Nicaragua work under repressive conditions.
* The country is deemed one of the most hostile for journalists according to Reporters Without Borders.
* Even as newsgathering is protected by the constitution, over the past decade, the Sandinista government has been closing journalistic space, moving from politicisation of media to an outright quashing of dissension, and even arrest of journalists.
* Peralta had to be careful while reporting in the country, changing hotels and vehicles frequently, carrying minimum equipment, and conducting conversations with a great deal of caution.
Consequences of Dissent: The Nicaraguan government’s hard stance against protests and dissent has led to citizens living in fear.
* Masaya resident “Graciela” who had joined the 2018 demonstrations against President Ortega, related her experience of police brutality and the death of her father whom she believes was allowed to die because of his political beliefs.
Public Perception: Observations from a public rally show the dominance of the Sandinista party in Nicaragua.
* At the rally to celebrate the anniversary of the Sandinista revolution in 1979, red-and-black flags of the Sandinista party were ubiquitous.
* Public employees risk dismissal if they do not attend these rallies, and some jobs require the official recommendation of party representatives.
Reflection: Peralta confesses feeling the pang of being in exile.
* Being in a country of his birth as a journalist, Eyder recognized that his visit might mean he won’t be able to return in the future. He expressed an understanding of his parents’ longing for their home country, which they were forced to leave.
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