CRNI’s Courage In Editorial Award Winner for 2018 Pedro X Molina receives his prize this weekend at the concluding gala of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists’ convention.
He writes exclusively for our website about the situation facing the citizens of Nicaragua and the context in which his cartoons represent an act of resistance.
“I’d like to thank Cartoonists Rights Network International and all the people assisting the organization in their incredible work supporting cartoonists in trouble around the world and for presenting me with this year’s award, which I dedicate to the heroic people of Nicaragua resisting the brutal dictatorship of Daniel Ortega and his wife Rosario Murillo.
“Cartooning is a trade that has been around for centuries. Right now some people seem to think – wrongly, in my opinion – that it is something that belongs to the past or is in the process of extinction. This is ‘fake news’. The misconception is due to the fact that the vehicle of circulation for cartoons has traditionally been the printed newspaper. When its media model entered a crisis due to the internet, cartooning seemed doomed to go down with it. Because of less printed circulation, less ads, less money for newspapers generally, short-sighted publishers seeking to avoid upsetting readers and trying to cut costs went after cartoonists as a convenient saving. A stupid move when you consider that many readers are loyal to their newspaper especially for the cartoons.
“So it’s very ironic that despite the many reasons to be depressed about the profession’s prospects so many of my colleagues feel more optimistic than never before. The reason? In a world where people are constantly bombarded with information yet don’t have much time to keep up cartooning can provide news, analysis and entertainment all in less than a couple of seconds! They can go viral and spark debate very quickly. People can now follow their favorites cartoonists directly. In many respects this should be a new golden age of cartooning! The only missing puzzle piece is how to get paid accordingly.
“To Nicaragua. Despite its proximity to the USA I’m sure many out there that don’t have a clue about exactly what is happening in my country. This video provides a good summary:
“This is like the #Sandinista version of ISIS.”#TheFeed‘s @nicadispatch explains why what’s happening in Nicaragua is not a civil war, but rather a government massacre of civilians—and why the country is fighting back. #NicaraguaSOS pic.twitter.com/mbXflgn9Rw
— FUSION TV (@fusiontv) July 19, 2018
“Therefore, in the context of this crisis, satirical humour and cartooning plays a very important role:
- it is an instrument of denunciation, to help make public all the injustices that are being committed
- it is an instrument of analysis, helping people understand the meaning of each event that occurs
- it is an instrument of criticism, helping us judge whether such action is futile, harmful or progressive
- it is an instrument of emotional connection with the people, as powerful cartoons contain not just wit and sarcasm but an outpouring of grief and outrage in the face of atrocity
- it is an energizing, liberating instrument, putting dictators and brutes in their place, lifting our spirits, giving us hope and companionship and strengthening our determination to continue fighting for a better, free, fair and democratic country.
A representative selection of Molina’s cartoons follows:
“The output of cartoonists, YouTubers, bloggers and all who use humor to process what we are experiencing has become a daily necessity for the Nicaraguan population. Humor injects us with life in the midst of so much death. Whether in the form of professional cartoons, videos and articles or spontaneous Tweets and memes humor is our engine, a place to put angry energy to use and our spoonful of sugar in a bitter reality.
“Every day journalists and commentators get messages threatening us with jail, especially a trip to El Chipote, the most ‘popular’ site of torture of the government. Other times they paint the front of the houses with the word PLOMO, ‘lead’ in English, a word that in our local culture is a death threat.
“It is very important to we Nicaraguans that the world knows that we’re not engaged in civil war. There aren’t two armed groups facing each other. This is a massacre enacted by an armed state upon an unarmed people.
“Why should North Americans care what is happening to the south? Well, because that’s the decent human thing to do, first and last. But if that’s not enough, consider this: Ortega is a bad seed. Other Central and South American governments have been tempted to lean toward this dictatorial style of government before. And they’re now watching this Ortega guy, located a couple of hours’ flight from Washington DC, not just stealing but killing people at large without any consequences whatsoever.
“A few weeks ago Ortega expelled the UN commission from Nicaragua. The same day in Guatemala President Jimmy Morales went on national television in front of a bunch of generals to say he will also kick out the UN CICIG from Guatemala. At the last OAS meeting Guatemala, Honduras and EL Salvador all abstained from condemnation of Ortega’s government. If the US and the rest of the world keep ignoring this situation instead of seeing it as an opportunity to set an example a very serious and widespread crisis could result. And naturally that will result in an even more serious immigration problem, something we’re led to believe the current American administration wants to avoid at all costs.
“My colleagues and friends elsewhere can help. I would encourage all US citizens to contact their representatives and make them pay attention to Nicaragua’s problem. The US have already done a few very effective things. They have canceled US visas for many government personnel and have applied the Magnitsky law – a form of economic sanction – to some high profile Ortega supporters. But it’s not enough. I find it particularly disgusting that ordinary Nicaraguans running for their lives can’t get a US visa while government-linked families can get in without any problem. The use of the Magnitsky law should be expanded to more people; not just Ortega’s family but senior figures in the military and police as well as businessmen closest to him. Continued coverage, campaigning and the efforts of NGOs to put more pressure on Ortega’s dictatorship could also be very helpful.
“After 11 years without a single interview granted to any domestic journalist Ortega has started a series of international interviews to peddle his lies, commencing with Fox News. He thinks he can benefit from Trump’s obvious sympathy with dictators. In just a couple of days Daniel Ortega will be in the US, no doubt trying to get in touch with him. Please don’t let him get his way. No-one will benefit from these two Putin fans comparing notes.”