Newspaper goes online only as Nicaragua withholds newsprint

MANAGUA, Nicaragua (AP) — Nicaragua’s storied La Prensa newspaper said Thursday it will suspend its print edition after the government once again withheld newsprint paper at customs.

La Prensa has long been criticial of President Daniel Ortega, who also recently arrested dozens of opposition figures. La Prensa said it will continue an online edition.

“Once again the Ortega-Murillo dictatorship has withheld our paper. Until they release the raw material, we cannot continue with the print edition,” the newspaper said in an editorial, referring to Ortega’s wife and vice president, Rosario Murillo. The move also affects the 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 regime.

La Prensa was founded in 1926; along with Hoy it has been the country’s only newspaper with a print editions since another opposition paper, El Nuevo Diario, closed in 2019.

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 past 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 the electoral process as a way out of Nicaragua’s political crisis and urged Nicaraguans to not 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 cancelled by the electoral court three days earlier. Party President Kitty Monterrey, whose Nicaraguan citizenship was withdrawn last week, called for his immediate release.

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 strongly condemned Ortega’s government for recent actions against the opposition.

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