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Nicaraguan police raid storied newspaper

A woman in a patterned jacket and shirt, left, and a man holding a microphone
Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, lead a rally in Managua, Nicaragua, in 2018.
(Alfredo Zuniga / Associated Press)

Nicaraguan police raided the offices of the storied opposition newspaper La Prensa on Friday.

The National Police said in a statement the raid was part of an investigation into “customs fraud and money laundering.” It said the newspaper’s offices “remain under police custody.”

The raid came one day after La Prensa suspended its print edition because the government’s customs office had once again withheld newsprint paper.

La Prensa, founded in 1926, has been critical of President Daniel Ortega, who has also recently arrested dozens of opposition figures. Ortega’s government has often leveled accusations of money laundering, tax fraud and other charges to raid nongovernmental and civic groups it disagrees with.

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La Prensa had said it would continue an online edition, but it was unclear how long it could continue to do so. La Prensa has been the country’s only newspaper with a print edition since another opposition paper, El Nuevo Diario, closed in 2019.

On Thursday, La Prensa said in an editorial, “Once again the Ortega-Murillo dictatorship has withheld our paper,” referring to the president and his wife and vice president, Rosario Murillo. “Until they release the raw material, we cannot continue with the print edition,” the newspaper said. The move also affects its sister paper Hoy.

The move marks the third time the government has withheld the newspaper’s paper or ink. The paper had ceased printing for about 500 days in 2018 and 2019 amid widespread protests against the government.

Nicaragua is scheduled to hold national elections Nov. 7, and Ortega is seeking a fourth consecutive term. He placed an opposition vice presidential candidate under house arrest last week, then released her pending the outcome of an investigation.

Over the last two months, Ortega’s government has arrested nearly three dozen opposition figures, including seven potential challengers for the presidency.

On Monday in Managua, the opposition alliance National Coalition said in a statement that it did not recognize the current electoral process as a way out of Nicaragua’s political crisis and urged Nicaraguans not to recognize it either.

Later Monday, authorities announced the arrest of opposition leader Mauricio Díaz Dávila, a candidate for congress and a former ambassador to Costa Rica. He had been called to the attorney general’s office on Monday as part of an investigation for alleged acts against the state.

His political party, Citizens for Liberty, said he was arrested with violence. His ability to run for office had been canceled by the electoral court three days earlier. Party President Kitty Monterrey, whose Nicaraguan citizenship was withdrawn last week, called for his immediate release.

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Murillo also announced Monday that the government had recalled its ambassadors from Argentina, Colombia, Mexico and Costa Rica “in reciprocity” for steps taken by those governments. She declared recent criticism from those governments as “interfering and interventionist.”

Argentina and Mexico had offered to try to mediate negotiations between the government and opposition, but that offer was rejected by Ortega. Costa Rica and Colombia had condemned Ortega’s government for recent actions against the opposition.


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