Nica News Roundup (March 25): La Prensa is Almost Out of Ink but not out of News.


“We are running out of ink, but not our of news.”

The headline on today’s La Prensa spells out the impending end of the print edition, after the paper has done whatever it could to save it.

The Ortega Murillo Customs Service seized  parts and other necessary supplies in September of last year. Paper and ink were embargoed in October, all in hopes to force the paper out of circulation.

Now, it seems that the end of the print edition is near. However, La Prensa remains defiant. Today’s editorial, titled “you do not kill information”, states that the paper’s front page is “a message of protest agains the regime of Daniel Ortega”:

During demonstrations in protest after the assassination of Caribbean journalist Angel Gahona, as well as protests that occurred 41 years ago after Pedro Joaquin Chamorro […] Nicaraguan journalists say that “you do not kill the truth by killing journalists.” 

That is true. However, in the same way, we can say that you do not kill press freedom by censuring and closing down newspaper, or by repressing them in other ways, including hijacking papers and other supplies that allow the paper to be printed.

La Prensa’s top story is about the Alianza Civica’s commitment to not negotiate an amnesty that benefits the Ortega Murillo dictatorship. According to Carlos Tunnerman, proprietary member of the Alianza’s negotiation team, “there is no talk about an amnesty law. What we are discussing is justice, and that means that there cannot be any impunity.”

If Ortega and Murillo propose an amnesty, it would not be an unprecedented step towards impunity. In 1990, the Sandinista-controlled National Assembly enacted Law 81, the General Amnesty and Reconciliation Law, after Daniel Ortega lost the election to Violeta Chamorro. The blanket bill absolved former National Guard members, Contras, “and Sandinista officials and bureaucrats from any crimes committed in their official capacities.” This law was overturned by the Chamorro government, through Law 100, which granted “a broad and unconditional amnesty for all political crimes and connected common crimes, committed by Nicaraguans.

However, no high-ranking Sandinista officials were ever held responsible for any acts authorized and carried out during their tenure in government.

Several groups, like the Mothers of April, have come out explicitly against amnesty. Francis Valdivia, president of the Asociacion de Madres de Abril, for example, stated that they will “never allow an amnesty law. Never. We demand justice without impunity. We will demand truth, justice, memory, and guarantees of non repetition.”

Negotiations continue today at the INCAE. The top priority in the agenda is to reconcile the different lists of political prisoners, in order to begin the release process. There may be as many as 838 political prisoners, according to the Alianza Civica.  On March 21, the Comite Pro Liberacion de Presos Politicos published their list, with 802 names.

The Ortega-Murillo administration has yet to produce their list, though in a letter to OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro, the government said they would release the political prisoners recognized as such by the Interamerican Commission for Human Rights. The government also stated that the release of all prisoners would happen within 90 days.

This morning, excarcerated political prisoners announced the establishment of the Union de Presos Politicos Nicaraguenses (UPPN), an organization representing the interests of political prisoners. In the announcement, UPPN said that they wanted their voices to be heard:

We have decided to be a space that amplifies our voice, and the voices of all political prisoners. We do not want to continue being considered as passive actors in the process of restitution of rights for all Nicaraguans.

The UPPN also reported another mutiny in the Modelo prison, where approximately 350 political prisoners broke through the ceiling to protest, waiving Nicaraguan flags:

“The fanatical orteguista guards have harassed them to get them to return to their cells, but the boys are resisting still today, Sunday, March 21 [sic]. They are surrounded by riot police and other staff members of the penitentiary system, directed by Roberto Guevara, Dionisio Palacios, and other [individuals] who went around as paramilitaries during the popular revolt of April 2018. They have not dared to beat [the inmates], but they have denied them food and water.”

The UPPN asked for the Nuncio and the Red Cross to intervene on behalf of the prisoners. They have also demanded the immediate restitution of constitutional rights and guarantees for everyone, as well as more decisive actions by the Alianza Civica, including the declaration of a national strike.

 The Alianza Civica must listen to the will of the people and echo their demands. We have given you enough votes of confidence. We want concrete and prompt action, because the people demand, rather than negotiate, their right to justice and freedom. As a concrete action, the Alianza must call for an indefinite national strike. Enough with having the people continue sacrificing their lives and peace for the sake of economic interests.

The majority of the Alianza’s negotiators represent the business community.

Today is day 314 since April 19.