Almost eleven months ago, in the first days of 2019, I was forced to go into exile with my wife to protect my physical integrity and freedom, in the face of threats and persecution of the Ortega-Murillo regime, after the illegal police occupation of the newsroom of Confidencial and the imprisonment of my 100% Noticias journalist colleagues, Miguel Mora and Lucia Pineda Ubau.
I took refuge in Costa Rica to continue doing journalism, thanks to the extraordinary solidarity of Teletica, Channel 7, and the Telenoticias team led by Ignacio Santos. Other colleagues in our newsroom also had to go into exile, while most of the reporters and editors of Confidencial and Esta Semana have remained working in Nicaragua dispute government harassment. With the support of a network of independent media outlets, we have been able to overcome television censorship during these months.
Today I return to my homeland together with a group of Nicaraguan exiles, each of us assuming our own responsibility, given the lack of guarantees in the country to exercise our constitutional rights.
The situation of insecurity and disrespect for human rights has not changed and in many aspects, it has worsened, as a result of the imposition of a de facto state of exception that has violated constitutional rights. However, this policy imposed in September of 2018 is failing because it has not managed to subdue the civic resistance by Nicaraguan citizens, including the demand for justice by the mothers of the victims, the demands for freedom and democracy of students, political prisoners and their relatives. They continue to demand the release of the political prisoners, and an end to the persecution of priests, and independent journalists, who, despite all the aggressions, have kept alive the flame of freedom of the press.
Each minute that we do journalism, clinging to truth, and in each act that citizens exercise their right to freedom of expression despite official intimidation, a space of freedom is strengthened while the authoritarian power of the dictatorship weakens. But this does not represent a guarantee to promote the safe return of tens of thousands of exiles who demand to return to their homeland.
In Costa Rica alone, there are 80,000 compatriots seeking refuge, most of them are going through a precarious economic situation, and cannot return to their homeland until conditions for their security are created, as a result of a genuine democratic change.
To initiate this process, Nicaraguans and the international solidarity community that’s with Nicaragua, must continue demanding:
–The return to the country of international human rights organizations: the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), the Office of the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights and Amnesty International.
–The disarmament and dismantling of the paramilitary groups, which was recommended by the IACHR in May of last year and accepted by the Government in the agreements of the first national dialogue.
–The full restoration of democratic freedoms, in compliance with the agreements signed by the Government with the Civic Alliance on March 28 of this year, having as witnesses the OAS General Secretariat and the Apostolic Nuncio on behalf of the Vatican.
–The suspension of the de facto state of siege, so that citizens can exercise their constitutional rights without being subjected to threats, persecution or reprisals by the State.
I am grateful to the people and the Government of Costa Rica headed by President Carlos Alvarado, whose democratic tradition has welcomed tens of thousands of Nicaraguans fleeing persecution. I also urge it to expedite the migration processes so that refugees can exercise their rights and support themselves financially with dignity. Similarly, we call on the international community to support the efforts of the Costa Rican Government by financing support programs that Nicaraguan refugees urgently need.
I return to my homeland, to continue demanding the suspension of the de facto confiscation against Confidencial and 100% Noticias, which since December 14 and 21, respectively, have remained occupied by armed officers of the National Police.
Despite the occupation of our newsroom and the aggressions against our journalists, we have maintained unaltered our commitment to exercise journalism to question power, investigate corruption, and promote public debate, which we will continue to practice in Nicaragua.
I return to my homeland with emotion to hug and kiss my mother Violeta Barrios de Chamorro, on her sickbed. During these 19 months of sorrow and hope of the April Rebellion, in the hardest moments of repression, I have always kept in mind the example of integrity and the values she represents, along with the democratic legacy and sacrifice of my father Pedro Joaquin Chamorro. They are the moral reserve that strengthens my conviction that “Nicaragua will once again become a Republic.”