For months now, the Central American country of Nicaragua has been in turmoil as anti-government protesters have been rising up and calling for President Daniel Ortega and his vice presidential wife to step down. The protests, sparked by slashes to social security, have been besieged by pro-government paramilitary forces and the national police resulting in the deaths of hundreds. As of Monday, CBS was the only network news outlet reporting on the chaos.
As anchor Jeff Glor led into the report on CBS Evening News, he noted that they had the only network news reporter in the country. He also warned that a possible civil war was on the horizon there and it could have dire consequences for the U.S. “New protests today are raising fears of a civil war in Nicaragua that could worsen the immigration crisis here in the U.S.,” he explained.
CBS correspondent Manuel Bojorquez was walking through a crowd of anti-government protesters as they shut down a major roadway in the capital city of Managua. Most of the people wore bandanas to protect their identity from the brutal regime.
“Take a look at this sign right here,” Bojorquez pointed out. “It says, ‘Nicaragua needs a president. I am armed, but only with strength and courage.’ The Ortega regime accuses the protesters of inciting violence, that has taken the lives of national police, who claim they were simply trying to restore the peace.”
Bojorquez shared cellphone video of a woman hiding as what could be assumed was the police fired on people. One of the most gut-wrenching attacks by pro-Ortega forces was a 15-hour-assault on a Catholic church. “It's believed paramilitary forces loyal to Ortega fired into a Catholic church earlier this month as 100 university students sought shelter,” he reported. Only two people were killed.
CBS spoke with the church’s priest who showed them the bullet holes left in a painting of Jesus. Translating for the Father, Bojorquez said: “Jesus is with you no matter how bad it gets.”
As CBS was putting its broadcast competitors to shame, Fox News Channel’s Bret Baier was turning up the heat on President Ortega himself in an interview.
Right out of the gate, Baier was not holding back. “Mr. President, there are multiple human rights organizations tonight saying that some 350 people have been killed just over the past 80 days. Why are paramilitary forces involved in armed actions against those who are protesting your government,” he demanded to know. Ortega insisted he didn’t control the pro-government paramilitary forces.
“Mr. President, they are attacking protesters who have called for you to step down. They are attacking protesters who say that you were eliminated term limits, that accuse you and your vice president, your wife, of setting up an authoritarian dynasty,” Baier pressed in a critical tone. Ortega claimed he never thought about setting up a dynasty.
When Baier corned Ortega on the protesters that were killed in the Divine Mercy Church, the communist President denied that anyone was ever killed in a church in Nicaragua. The Fox News anchor expertly counted Ortega with video of two women who had relatives killed in the church. The Nicaraguan President seemed to then acknowledge their deaths but blamed it on terrorism.
Baier confronted Ortega with a U.S. resolution up for a vote this week that condemned his regime’s brutal treatment of the people:
Among other things, it will say: The recent protests led by students have been met with violence and brutal response. The murders in the violence have continued. Torture, disappearances. The government has also shut down media outlets, denied basic medical care to protesters, and attempted to poison their food and water, and sanctioned the murder of political opponents.
“That will pass the U.S. Congress this week,” Baier declared. “What message do you have to the U.S. that this is going to come to an end?” Ortega asserted that it was all lies.
This is what journalism looks like. Instead of covering the human rights abuses by a communist regime, ABC spent time reporting Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte getting suspended for doping. ABC and NBC also spent a considerable amount of time hyperventilating about Trump revoking security clearances from Obama-era spooks.
The transcript of CBS is below, click "expand" to read:
CBS Evening News
July 23, 2018
6:42:20 PM Eastern [2 minutes 24 seconds]
JEFF GLOR: We are following a very bad situation in Central America tonight. New protests today are raising fears of a civil war in Nicaragua that could worsen the immigration crisis here in the U.S. Hundreds have been killed in demonstrations since the government tried to cut social security benefits three months ago. Protesters are demanding President Daniel Ortega step down. He has ruled Nicaragua for 22 of the last 40 years. Manuel Bojorquez is the only network correspondent tonight in Nicaragua.
[Cuts to video]
MANUEL BOJORQUEZ: This is the latest anti-government March. It is packed here. It has shut down one of the main thoroughfares of the capital city, Managua. You can see all the people gathered here. Many of them have covered their faces out of fear that they will be targeted for being part of this protest. But being here is a risk they are willing to take. This masked young man has been protesting for months now.
How long does this go? [Translating for the protestor] “Until he is gone.”
Take a look at this sign right here. It says, “Nicaragua needs a president. I am armed, but only with strength and courage.” The Ortega regime accuses the protesters of inciting violence, that has taken the lives of national police, who claim they were simply trying to restore the peace.
[Cellphone video of a woman and someone else hiding as gunfire is heard]
BOJORQUEZ: It's believed paramilitary forces loyal to Ortega fired into a Catholic church earlier this month as 100 university students sought shelter.
[Cellphone video of a woman hiding in the church as gunfire is heard]
BOJOROQUEZ: Two were killed. Father Eric Alvarado was there during the 15-hour-siege. Tell us, if you can, what happened that day. [Translating] The worst day of your life. He showed us where the bullets pierced the church’s icons. Jesus…
FATHER ERIC ALVARADO: Is with us.
BOJOROQUEZ: … is with you no matter how bad it gets.
[Cuts back to live]
Even as this protest unfolded, supporters of Ortega regime were holding a demonstration of their own an indication of the deep political divisions of this country, and a sign that turmoil may not be ending any time soon. Jeff?
GLOR: Manuel Bojorquez in Managua for us tonight. Manny, thanks.