La Prensa, the oldest newspaper (founded in 1926) and with the largest circulation in Nicaragua, published on January 27 a withering editorial: “Dictatorship strangles La Prensa!”, Said its headline. The newspaper warned that, after supporting more than 500 days of customs blockade of paper and ink imposed by the Sandinista Government of Daniel Ortega, the last printed newspaper of national circulation of Nicaragua was about to “disappear.” “We will be the only country in the world that would not have a printed newspaper,” lamented its manager Ernesto Juárez. An embargo that, as revealed by the editorial group on Wednesday, has begun to be lifted.
“Following the informative note published on January 26 and the editorial published on January 27, in which the economic suffocation to which La Prensa Editorial is being submitted by the Government of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo was denounced, The Apostolic Nuncio, Monsignor Waldemar Sommertag, initiated efforts to have said customs embargo lifted, since it violates the freedom of expression and free access to information of all Nicaraguans, ”the newspaper published in its electronic edition.
Monsignor Sommertag is the only interlocutor between the Government, the opposition and the civil society in Nicaragua after two attempts at political dialogue between the opposition Civic Alliance and the Sandinista Administration were stranded with which it was intended to find a solution to the latent sociopolitical crisis since April 2018 in the country. The nuncio witnessed those negotiations that did not bear fruit.
The Government initiated the embargo that hit La Prensa between October and November 2018, in the middle of a government escalation against independent journalism, which denounced the serious human rights violations committed by police, paramilitaries and Sandinista militants in the massive social protests. Added to this was the looting and confiscations – still in force – of the Confidential and 100% News media, the arrest of journalists Miguel Mora and Lucía Pineda Ubau, and a disruption of more than 68 exiled reporters.
The regime undertook in those negotiation rounds to cease the customs embargo in March 2019, but the Ortega Administration did not keep its promises. The Press did all kinds of pirouettes to continue printing, but the press ended up stopping in October 2019.
At this time, the newspaper has fired several reporters and correspondents. He has managed to print some copies in another press, but dropper.
Although the Nicaraguan newspaper and journalism in general received with optimism the news about the lifting of the embargo, the reality is that it is a half-concession. The same note of the editorial group indicated that, although the General Directorate of Customs promised to “release” more than 90 tons of newspaper, ink, iron and other supplies, the lifting of the embargo is subject to the payment of outstanding debts. “The illegal retention has created a large debt for storage that has been generated by the customs blockade itself and therefore should not be assumed by La Prensa,” says the editorial group. According to sources close to the negotiation, the newspaper’s refusal to pay that debt has delayed the end of the embargo.
Eduardo Enriquez, editor of La Prensa, says that representatives of the newspaper went to the wineries of the Customs Directorate to check that the supplies had not been damaged during their more than 500 days of “kidnapping”. According to Enriquez, there will be “greater clarity” about the lifting of the embargo in the coming days, once the newspaper’s address “can know more” about the state of the material.