Psychological support for Nicaraguan journalists

Since the eruption of violence in Nicaragua in April 2018, journalists in the country are under enormous pressure. Yet media such as Confidencial still courageously report on the human rights violations in the country. Free Press Unlimited supports Confidencial financially and makes sure there is psychological support for its journalists: how can they continue to do their job in this threatening situation?

In 2018, a serious political crisis arose in Nicaragua. Demonstrations against a pension reform were violently beaten down by supporters of the presidential couple Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo. Thousands of Nicaraguans took to the streets to protest the violence. Police and pro-government groups took targeted shots at demonstrators, which included many students. Hundreds of people lost their lives as a result of the violence.

The crisis has far-reaching consequences for the freedom of the press in the Central American country. Journalists who expose human rights violations and criticise the government are threatened, harassed, beaten up and in some cases arrested. One journalist was shot while filming the demonstrations. The Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation registered 712 violations of press freedom between April and December.

Raid on the editorial room

Confidencial is one of the few media houses in Nicaragua that reports independently and has not become a mouthpiece for the government. As the publisher of a news website, two television broadcasts and a weekly printed magazine, Confidencial has been reporting extensively on repression in the country since the outbreak of the crisis. That cost the media house dearly. In December, a police force invaded the editorial room, seized hard disks, computers and documents and confiscated the building shortly afterwards. A number of journalists fled Nicaragua, others continue to work, with all the risks that entails.

Miguel* is one of them. The 21-year-old journalist who has been with Confidencial for two years, has been working long hours since the start of the crisis. He works under constant pressure, is threatened on social media and his interviews are often intense. For example, with mothers who have just lost their sons due to the violence. ‘I became moody. Sometimes I slept badly, also due to the fact that I could hear shots outside my house at night,’ says Miguel. ‘No journalist in Nicaragua now feels 100 percent safe. The threat is always there.’

Traumatic events

The young journalist benefits greatly from the psychological support that Free Press Unlimited makes possible. Yoga sessions and psychotherapy help Confidencial employees cope with the traumatic events they report on and deal with the stress – and with the risk they run themselves. ‘It has helped me to better accept the new situation in the country … help from a professional is extremely important to be able to continue.’

* For security reasons, this name is fictitious.

Since: 2018
Donor: Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Contribution: € 57,000

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