Over the past year, approximately 1,500 universities, associations, NGOs and newspapers have been banned in Nicaragua, on the pretext that they do not respect the law on “foreign agents”, and the premises of these dissolved bodies have been placed at the disposal of the State. Tuesday, August 23, the government announced the transformation into a cultural center of the headquarters of the opposition newspaper “La Prensa”, in Managua, occupied since last year by the police.
This is the latest twist in the long-term effort of the government of Daniel Ortega, in power since 2007, to silence the protest that is shaking the country.
Attacks on the freedom of the press
The manager of the daily “La Prensa”, Juan Lorenzo Holmann, has been detained since last year, while many opponents, leaders of civil society organizations and aspiring candidates for the presidential election last November to Daniel Ortega were also arrested.
The entire editorial staff of the newspaper was forced to leave Nicaragua because of police persecution and pursuits at the homes of the last journalists and photographers of the newspaper present in the country.
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At least 150 journalists have been exiled due to pressure or threats since 2018, the trade union organization of independent journalists in Nicaragua explained to the daily. “Las Americas”.
Human rights organizations estimate the number of opponents detained in Nicaragua at 190, including seven former presidential candidates. At least 45 of them have been sentenced this year to terms of up to 13 years in prison for “attack on national integrity”.
“A Regime of Terror”
In a single day, on February 2, the Nicaraguan Parliament, with a majority aligned with the power in place, canceled the operating permits of five universities and 11 Nicaraguan NGOs, at the request of the government of President Daniel Ortega.
Among the academic institutions, the Polytechnic University of Nicaragua (Upoli), the Catholic University of the Tropics (Ucatse), the Nicaraguan University of Humanistic Studies (Uneh), the People’s University of Nicaragua (Uponic) and the University Paulo Freire (UPF) had to close their doors, even though the students had been demonstrating for several days, according to “El Sol del Mexico”.
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Asked by the Associated Press, the editor of “La Prensa”, Eduardo Enríquez, believes that the government has “imposed a regime of terror”. According to the newspaper, the regime has intensified its pressure on the independent press and the Catholic Church – two strongholds still critical of the ruling power – in recent weeks.
On Sunday, Pope Francis said to himself “preoccupied” by the growing tensions between the State and the Catholic Church in Nicaragua, two days after the arrest of Bishop Rolando Alvarez, a critic of the regime.
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