Independent newspaper La Prensa received on Friday the remaining supplies that had been held up at customs for 18 months without explanation, after President Daniel Ortega’s government decided to release them to Nicaragua’s oldest paper and a critic of his administration.
La Prensa director Jaime Chamorro said the load of some 70 tons of paper and ink arrived in multiple trucks from the customs facility at El Rama, where the materials had been kept since August 2018. The previous day the government released other supplies.
Chamorro said a “small part” of paper used for commercial printing was infected by moths from its time in storage, but the paper used for printing the newspaper was in good condition.
La Prensa had warned previously that it was on the brink of shuttering its print edition due to the lack of access to supplies. It had shrunk the print issue from 36 pages to eight pages and let go nearly 300 of its 400 employees.
Chamorro said normal printing would likely resume “in a few weeks.”
The government never said why the materials were retained in customs.
Another newspaper, El Nuevo Diario, was similarly affected by the withholding of supplies and shut down in September after 40 years in business.
Leadership of both papers complained of “de facto censorship” in apparent reprisal for their editorial stance critical of Ortega and in favor of anti-government protests that erupted in 2018.
Founded 93 years ago by the Chamorro family, La Prensa was a staunch critic of Anastasio Somoza during his 1967-1979 dictatorship. Former newspaper director Pedro Joaquín Chamorro was assassinated in 1978 by presumed regime assassins.
The paper also questioned Ortega’s Sandinista movement, which ousted Somoza, when it was in power first from 1979 to 1990 and again after Ortega, now 74, was re-elected in 2006.