The closure, on 1 August 2022, of eight Catholic radio stations linked to Bishop Rolando José Álvarez of the diocese of Matagalpa (we reported on it here) was only the beginning. Telcor, the Nicaraguan communications regulator, deactivated other radio and television channels, again on the grounds that they were no longer authorised, bringing the number of closures to 17. Last in order, Radio Dario (89.3 in León), considered one of the few voices critical of Ortega, was deactivated on 12 August. For 73 years, it was the oldest Nicaraguan radio station and had managed to continue operations despite an arson attack in 2018, during anti-government protests, that had destroyed the studios.
The list of closures grows longer
Radio La Guarachera, operating on 96.5 in Chinandega, and Radio Sky, on 102.9 in León, both owned by exiled journalist Anibal Toruño, went off the air. And then Radio San Carlos 94.9, owned by the exiled former liberal mayor of the municipality of San Carlos, Silvio Linarte. The same fate befell Radio Vos, a community radio station that promotes and defends women’s rights and had followed events: it had been broadcasting for 18 years on 101.7, in Matagalpa. Finally, Radio Stereo Sol, on 102.5 from Santa Maria de Pantasma, has been on air for 16 years. Also, there are two television channels from Nueva Guinea: Canal NGTV3, owned by journalist Carlos José Suárez Jaime, and Canal RB3, owned by Daniel Mendoza, who inaugurated it 24 years ago.
Less and less opposition
According to the Nicaraguan movement of independent journalists and communicators (PCIN), the Ortega government has exiled more than 120 journalists, including the editorial staff of the daily newspaper La Prensa, making criticism of the government disappear from the written press, television and radio programmes. An estimated 30 stations have been closed since 2014, more than half in August 2022 alone.
Consequences also for the bishop Rolando José Álvarez: because he had refused to have the stations closed down, he was forced to remain locked in the curia for 16 days, controlled by the national police, who eventually placed him under arrest.