A blow to press freedom: La Prensa in Managua stops circulation due to paper blocking
It joins the political, economic and social crisis in Nicaragua, three months into the elections. Customs withheld key inputs for printing, preventing the newspaper from circulating.
"This is not a closure, we will continue to report," was the headline of the website La Prensa, a newspaper from Managua, on Thursday, Aug. 12, announcing it will stop publishing the printed edition due to lack of paper.
On the first page. the editors pointed out that: "Once again, the Ortega-Murillo dictatorship has withheld the paper from us. As long as they do not release our supplies, we will not be able to circulate the printed edition, but they will not shut us up."
In addition to La Prensa, Hoy, the popular newspaper in the same publishing house, ceased to circulate, leaving the country without newspapers.
Juan Lorenzo Holmann, general secretary of the Board of Directors of La Prensa and Hoy, explained that “the paper we had stored in the warehouse finished and we had to make the decision; As we did not have the raw material, we had to cancel the printing of La Prensa and Hoy. The little paper we had, we used it today and we decided to release La Prensa with eight pages because that was the paper we had.”
The case of La Prensa is another act of pressure by the government against the opposition to leave the field open for Ortega to be reelected in the November elections. Seven other presidential candidates are imprisoned, in addition to 25 other opposition politicians.
It is not the first time the Ortega government has blocked La Prensa, but it is new that it prevents the paper from circulating.
For almost 17 months, between 2018 and 2020, the General Customs Directorate imposed an embargo on supplies necessary for the publishing industry. As a result, the newspapers El Nuevo Diario and Q'Hubo disappeared. The economic crisis for those who survived was enormous because they had to lower circulation and the number of pages printed.
The Inter-American Press Association (IAPA), which brings together several of the most important newspapers in the region, reacted by questioning the asphyxiation of the Ortega government against the media.
Jorge Canahuati, president of the IAPA, condemned the embargo in a statement: "The hostile attitude and anti-freedom of the press of the Government of Daniel Ortega and Vice President Rosario Murillo, who are betting on economic suffocation and continuous attacks against journalists and the media."
During the Ortega government, in power since 2007, at least 20 media outlets have disappeared.
La Prensa was a victim of the Somoza dictatorship, which even cost the life of Pedro Joaquín Chamorro, its director, on Jan. 10, 1978. A year and a half later, on July 19, 1979, the Sandinista Front of National Liberation (FSLN) overthrew Anastasio Somoza and ended 42 years of dictatorship.
Allies then, the Chamorros and Daniel Ortega, a member of the FSLN, are on different shores today.