Nicaraguan journalist Wilih Narváez was recently harassed and threatened at his home. (Photo: Miguel Andrés Gutiérrez)

Nicaraguan journalist Wilih Narváez and family repeatedly harassed, threatened

Guatemala City, March 4, 2021 — Nicaraguan authorities must quickly and thoroughly investigate the harassment of journalist Wilih Narváez, ensure his safety, and hold those responsible to account, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

On February 24, an unidentified man went to Narváez’s house in Managua, the capital, and yelled at the journalist’s mother and told her he knew that it was the home of a journalist from Canal 10, the broadcaster where until recently Narváez had worked as a reporter and host, according to the journalist, who spoke to CPJ in a phone interview.

“He even made signs with his hands that he was going to cut off my head,” Narváez told the Nicaraguan news website Confidencial

On February 28, the same man returned to Narváez’s house, told the journalist he would kill him, and threw rocks that landed on the roof but did not damage Narváez’s home, the journalist told CPJ and the local newspaper La Prensa.

Narváez told CPJ that he notified the Nicaraguan National Police of the incident on February 28, but said authorities have taken no action.

“Nicaraguan authorities must act swiftly to investigate the repeated threats made to journalist Wilih Narváez,” said CPJ South and Central America Program Coordinator Natalie Southwick, in New York. “A journalist’s work should never expose them — much less their entire family — to threats or harassment. Nicaragua’s journalists deserve to feel safe in their workplaces and their homes.”

Narváez recently started work at the news website Divergentes, and previously worked as a reporter and host covering human rights, crime, and politics on Canal 10, he told CPJ.

Narváez said he believed the man was drunk, and could not understand him well, but heard death threats and insults about his work at Canal 10.  He said that he could not identify the man by name, but believed he recognized him as a member of a family that lives nearby, who are vocal supporters of the government of President Daniel Ortega. The journalist said that he has previously been yelled at and harassed by Ortega supporters near his house on two other occasions in the last three months.

“I’m worried this will escalate and they could attack my family,” the journalist told CPJ.

On January 23, 2020, police attacked Narváez in Managua while he was covering a political event held by the Ciudadanos por la Libertad opposition political party, according to news reports. A video recorded by a Canal 10 camera operator and shared on social media shows riot police kicking and pushing the journalist.

CPJ emailed the public relations department of the Nicaraguan police for comment, but did not immediately receive any response.

CPJ has documented a widespread crackdown on the Nicaraguan media since a wave of protests in spring 2018, including imprisonments, the occupation of news outlets, criminal defamation charges, and physical attacks. One journalist was killed while covering protests in April 2018.