Friday, March 11, 2016

How Orwellian : the censor censoring the censor

An old article (1986) from the days of Sandinistas running Nicaragua about their censor/ propagandist Nelba Blandon

On Jan. 21, 1986, we [opposition newspaper La Prensa] received an interview with Nelba Blandon on censorship, by an AP correspondent named Eloy A. Aguilar. We tried to publish it under the headline: "Blandon Comments on Censorship," but the censor's decision was: "DO NOT PUBLISH." On Aguilar's next visit he asked Blandon why the interview, which he considered accurate, was not published. The censor answered: "Because the statements I made were for publication abroad, not for publication in Nicaragua."
As an aside I would point to this previous article from 1983 where Nelba Blandon admits that the Sandinistas censored newspaper coverage of Poland or the Soviet war in Afghanistan and she says :

''Now we are determined to let them say what they want, except about military matters or questions of product shortages, two themes that could cause panic in the country if not handled carefully,'' Lieutenant Blandon said in an interview." 

Apparently, having the censor being a military member, who by 1986 had been promoted to Captain, makes the censor's conversations a "military matter" and therefore censorable. And this :

Nicaragua's press censor is Lieut. Nelba Blandon, a 24-year-old lawyer whose wit and intelligence serve to soften the image given by the military uniform she wears to work and the pistol she carries on her hip. 
I must admit that I am surprised that the NY Times would describe a gun toting military censor of the press in such flattering terms.

Also interesting is the idea that the censor demands that people being censored pretend the censorship doesn't exist :

Along with photocopies of every page of the paper we send the censor two pages of material that we call "stuffing" -- articles that can be substituted for censored stories. La Prensa has been unable to publish on 40 occasions because the censor could not find adequate material to substitute for censored stories. It is prohibited to leave any blank space on a page or in any other way give the impression that the paper has been censored.

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