On Christmas Day 2018, Pedro X. Molina, his wife, and their two young children traveled from their small city in the north of Nicaragua to the airport in Managua. With just carry-on baggage, they told the authorities they were going to America to spend New Year’s with friends.
Pedro was a well-known political cartoonist whose work appeared in an opposition newspaper. Two weeks earlier, the government had taken over the newspaper’s offices, as well as those of an opposition television station. After months of increasingly menacing threats, Pedro and his wife decided it was no longer safe to stay.
The officials at the airport let them pass. The next day, the Molinas arrived in Ithaca, a place they hadn’t heard of until a short time before. They have been here ever since.
Ithaca City of Asylum paid for their airfare, found them housing and a car, helped them secure proper visas, and arranged for Pedro to teach at Ithaca College. Over the past two years, we have lent a hand with schools, English classes, lesson plans, cell phones, taxes, work opportunities, and a hundred other details.
For ICOA, this not just about helping a family in need. It is about standing up for writers, artists, journalists, and others who risk their lives to say what they think. We are part of a worldwide network of groups working to protect free expression, and what we do in our small community echoes across the planet. Your support makes it possible.
We all love happy endings, but sometimes the world makes you wait. A few days ago, the Nicaraguan government announced that it had formally taken ownership of Pedro’s newspaper’s offices. Around the same time, new laws came into effect imposing harsh penalties on Nicaraguans who dare to speak out.
With his daily cartoons and tens of thousands of social media followers, Pedro X. Molina has never stopped speaking out. He may not be able to go home right now, but he refuses to be silenced. We will do what we can to help.
We wish you a peaceful holiday and a happy and healthy New Year.