(NEW YORK)– PEN America is deeply alarmed by Nicaragua’s reported deportation of musician and music producer Leonardo Canales to Costa Rica, and condemns the ongoing repression of artistic voices critical of the Nicaraguan government and its leaders.

“Canales’ arrest and deportation is yet another attack on the Nicaraguan creative community by the increasingly authoritarian regime of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo,” said Julie Trébault, Director of the Artists at Risk Connection (ARC) at PEN America. “Canales was deported (on April 16) after being arrested on Tuesday, April 12 in a police raid. There is no clear indication why he was targeted, but it is likely because he has worked with many bands that have created dissident work and spoken out against the Ortega regime. We condemn this crackdown on artistic freedom in the country and call on the Nicaraguan government to respect the right to freedom of expression.”

On April 12, Canales was arrested in a police raid in Managua, Nicaragua. Josué Monroy, vocalist of the rock-band Monroy and Surmenage, and music producers Salvador Espinoza and Xóchilt Tapia, were also arrested. According to a local media report, during a recent public performance, Monroy & Surmenage referenced the massive April 2018 protests against President Ortega in their song lyrics. After Monroy was arrested, his relatives stated that he is being illegally detained in the Judicial Assistance cells, known as El Chipote. The detention place of the other arrested artists is still unknown. On April 16, the police also deported Italian musician Emilia Arienti, who collaborated with Canales and who was given only 48 hours to leave the country.

These recent arrests and deportations come against a background of reported human rights violations under Ortega, who has carried out massive arrests and aggression against journalists and other critics, forcing more than 120 of them to leave the country. This is part of an effort to purge the country of voices critical of his government.  

PEN America leads the Artists at Risk Connection (ARC), a program dedicated to assisting imperiled artists and fortifying the field of organizations that support them. ARC  published A Safety Guide For Artists, a resource that offers practical strategies to help artists understand, navigate, and overcome risk, and oversees the PAR – América Latina y el Caribe network, which provides support for persecuted artists in Latin America and the Caribbean.  If you or someone you know is an artist at risk, contact ARC.

About PEN America

PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible. Learn more at pen.org.

Contact: Suzanne Trimel, STrimel@PEN.org, 201-247-5057

PEN America experts are available for interviews in English and Spanish. // Los expertos de PEN América están disponibles para entrevistas en inglés y español