Pedro X. Molina, also known as PxMolinA, is an internationally acclaimed political cartoonist, illustrator and journalist from Nicaragua. Despite unrest and direct threats, PxMolinA has continued to produce and publish his cartoons, which contain staunch criticism of the current government as well as human rights abuses, particularly in the Americas.
Molina left Nicaragua in a rush on Christmas Day 2018 after police killed a journalist, jailed two others, and ransacked the offices of Confidencial, where Molina’s cartoons were frequently published. One of the only remaining independent newspapers in Nicaragua, Molina and his colleagues continue to publish daily in Confidencial, from exile and from Nicaragua.
Visiting scholar in the Honors Program at Ithaca College
Ithaca City of Asylum (ICOA) runs the programme for writers and artists at risk in Ithaca NY. They were able to accommodate Molina’s urgent situation and welcome him on short notice. ICOA acts as a bridge to Ithaca College, where Molina will work as a visiting international scholar in the Honors Program.
- We feel very lucky to have Pedro and his family here in Ithaca, said Jonathan Miller, Chair of ICOA’s board. We were happy to extend a hand during a very difficult period, and we know they’ll be a great addition to our community.
Molina is the first Latin American and the first cartoonist to be hosted by ICOA. In addition to teaching, he will take part in local exhibitions and events, travel for fellowships and speaking engagements, and continue to contribute cartoons to Nicaraguan and international outlets.
A sharp observer and stark critic
Molina is widely known for his artistic ability and searing commentary. His work has appeared in Politico.com, BBC mundo, El Nuevo Diario, La Tribuna, the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Courrier International and many other publications.
Molina’s work has been published in various books, including several editions of Best Editorial Cartoons of the Year by Pelican in the United States and the Gallimard/Cartooning for Peace collection in France. He is also an active member of nine organizations of cartoonists/journalists around the world, including Cartooning for Peace and the New York Times’ Cartoonists and Writers Syndicate.
Summer 2019, Molina won the prestigious Maria Moors Cabot Award from Columbia Journalism School for “career excellence and coverage of the Western Hemisphere that furthers inter-American understanding.”
The awards committee called him one of Nicaragua’s sharpest observers and wrote that - Molina uses his pen and wit to take aim not only at the repressive government of President Daniel Ortega, but also at human rights abuses throughout the Americas and the world.
In 2018, he won the Courage in Editorial Cartooning Award from Cartoonists Rights Network International and an Excellence in Journalism award from the Inter American Press Association.
A great deal of his work can be found on his own website, www.pxmolina.com.
Clamp down on media and dissidents
Daniel Ortega was a popular revolutionary leader when he and a group of fellow commanders first took power in 1979. He served as president of Nicaragua from 1985 to 1990, then returned to office in 2007. Since then, he has consolidated his hold on power and rewritten the constitution to allow him to remain indefinitely.
The government clamped down on dissent after street protests in April 2018, killing more than 300 and jailing hundreds more. Human Rights Watch noted - a pattern of systematic abuse against anti-government protesters and opponents, including assassination, rape, and torture. More than 50 journalists went into exile.
ICORN alerted ICOA about Molina’s situation, and the local group acted immediately. Pedro Molina arrived in Ithaca during the 2018 Christmas holidays.
Ithaca City of Asylum (IOCA)
ICOA was founded in 2001 by local writers to provide refuge for colleagues whose works are suppressed, whose lives are threatened, whose cultures are vanishing, or whose languages are endangered. A long-time partner, Ithaca officially joined ICORN in 2015.
ICOA is an all-volunteer project of the Center for Transformative Action. Supported by individual donations, small grants, and assistance from Ithaca College and Cornell University, it is one of two U.S. members of ICORN, whose 73 members include Paris, Berlin, Barcelona, Stockholm, Pittsburgh and Mexico City.
Previous residents have come from China, Iran, Swaziland, Republic of Georgia, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. They have included poets, playwrights, essayists, fiction writers and journalists. ICOA’s sixth ICORN- resident, Pakistani journalist Raza Rumi, now directs the Park Center for Independent Media at Ithaca College.