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Nicaraguan Journalist Exiled In Miami Wins Prestigious Prize – And Vindication

Tim Padgett
Exiled Nicaraguan journalist and Rey de Espana prize winner Wilfredo Miranda in Doral this week.

There is another political crisis raging in Latin America besides Venezuela. That’s Nicaragua, where the authoritarian regime has all but criminalized independent journalism. But one Nicaraguan journalist exiled in Miami has won a measure of revenge.

Human rights groups say Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega’s security forces have killed more than 300 protesters demanding his removal. The regime has also attacked the media – ransacking newspapers and radio stations and jailing journalists. (One was killed last spring during anti-government demonstrations.) Scores of them have been forced into exile.

Among them is Wilfredo Ernesto Miranda, a young reporter for the respected Nicaraguan weekly newspaper Confidencial (whose editor, Carlos Fernando Chamorro, is himself in exile in Costa Rica). Miranda arrived in Miami this month after being threatened with imprisonment for exposing the murders of protesters by pro-government forces in a May 2018 article titled "!Disparaban con Precisión – a Matar!" ("They Were Shooting Precisely - to Kill!")

“I was able to document close-range bullet wounds to the heads and throats of protesters that could only be execution-style shots,” Miranda told WLRN.

But during that interview on Wednesday, Miranda received an email informing him that his work had won a Rey de España prize.  (The formal announcement was made Thursday.) It’s one of the most prestigious journalism awards in Spain and Latin America –and for Miranda and countless other Nicaraguan journalists it’s potent vindication.

Credit Courtesy
Nicaraguan journalist Wilfredo Miranda interviewing a witness to police repression in Masaya, Nicaragua, last summer.

“The Ortega regime is out to destroy independent journalism in Nicaragua,” the 26-year-old Miranda said. “I hope this will help put its human rights abuses back on the radar.”

Miranda said he wanted to dedicate his Rey de España prize – awarded by a jury in Spain – to imprisoned Nicaraguan journalists Miguel Mora and Lucía Pineda, who face terrorism charges that human rights groups call absurd.

Tim Padgett is the Americas Editor for WLRN, covering Latin America, the Caribbean and their key relationship with South Florida. Contact Tim at tpadgett@wlrnnews.org
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