Nicaraguan Catholic Church Demands Restoration of Freedom of the Press

A passer-by gets an edition of "La Prensa" newspapers which printed its cover in cyan with the headline "We are running out of ink, but not of news. The Civic Alliance will not negociate an amnesty", at a newsstand in Managua, on March 25, 2019. - Paper and ink imported …
MAYNOR VALENZUELA/AFP via Getty

The archbishop of Managua demanded Sunday the government of Daniel Ortega lift a block on paper and other raw materials from the opposition newspaper La Prensa.

Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes, who is also president of the Nicaraguan bishops’ conference, said that there has been a public outcry for the release of paper and other materials so that freedom of the press can be restored in the country.

While the online edition of La Prensa continues to be published, the print version has been severely curtailed because of the Sandinista government’s block on paper to the daily, which began 74 weeks ago. The newspaper has responded by reducing the number of pages in its daily edition and shifting to a tabloid format on weekends in an effort to maintain the paper’s regular publication.

“There has been a clamor not only from the population, but the Episcopal Conference has stated as well that paper must be released so that La Prensa can be published with its correct number of pages and an objective journalism can be exercised,” the cardinal said.

Brenes said that the circulation of La Prensa is important, while expressing his confidence that despite this blockade, the newspaper will continue to serve the truth.

“There is no doubt that the circulation of this newspaper is important. It is La Prensa. In one way or another it is always present,” the cardinal said following the celebration of Sunday mass at the Cristo Rey school in Managua.

In 2019, a team of journalists from Onda Local along with investigators from Transparencia Nicaragua carried out two inquiries and concluded that the Nicaraguan government is in violation of its own Law of Access to Public Information that was passed by the Ortega government in 2009.

The Managuan cardinal also referred Sunday to political prisoners who are still in Sandinista prisons and who recently started a hunger strike to press for their freedom.

“It is sad that these situations occur because a hunger strike always goes against life. Hopefully other measures can be sought so as to avoid this. I have always said that the outcry must be heard,” he said.

The cardinal urged the government to listen to the cry of the mothers of the political prisoners while expressing his hope that “we can soon have these people freed.”

According to the Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy, the more than 65 political prisoners in La Modelo prison have been on hunger strike for 15 days and demanded that their rights be respected and as well as their freedom.

Cardinal Brenes concluded by saying that current human rights violations must not be repeated in Nicaragua.

“If there is a new system, I hope this will never be repeated. Sometimes you want to implement a democracy, but there are always these regimes that in the long run do not exercise the purity of democracy,” he said.

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