Nicaragua goes after newspapers to report on the expulsion of nuns

Nicaragua goes after newspapers to report on the expulsion of nuns

MEXICO CITY (AP) – After ordering the expulsion of the Missionaries of Charity founded by Mother Teresa, the Nicaraguan government has now gone after one of the few local newspapers that dared to report on the removal of the nuns.

According to a newspaper employee, the two drivers of the independent newspaper La Prensa have been sent to jail and police have raided the homes of the two journalists.

Journalists covered the expulsion of 18 nuns from Missionaries of Charity on Thursday after President Daniel Ortega’s government ordered the organization to close in late June.

It came down to the crackdown on the Ortega government against the opposition and almost any civic organization not allied with his regime.

La Prenza employees, who asked not to use their names for security reasons, said Friday that the two drivers had been taken to prison in the infamous El Chipo, where many political and media figures have been detained.

The government has detained about 190 people who are considered political prisoners by human rights groups and the U.S. State Department, including seven people who could challenge Ortega for the presidency in his re-election last November.

Renata Holman, daughter of Juan Lorenzo Hallman, manager of La Prসারnsa prison, said Thursday that her father had been suffering from chronic illness and additional health problems acquired at the prison since his arrest last August.

Hallman was arrested after police raided La Prenza offices. He was later sentenced to nine years in prison for alleged money laundering – a charge often filed against anti-government elements or journalists.

The number of non-governmental organizations closed in Nicaragua in the last four years has risen to 758 due to the closure of the local branch of Missionaries of Charity. The government has said the groups did not comply with 2020 requirements for registration as “foreign agents”.

When Ortega began dismissing parties affiliated with the opposition, the government now wants to clear the landscape of any organization that does not control it.

The Missionaries of Charity has been in Nicaragua for 34 years, operating a children’s center, a home for girls and a facility for the elderly. The missionaries provide children’s music and theater classes as well as vocational training for children who have been victims of violence.

The closures have been targeted at a wide range of groups, including the Society of Pediatrics, the Nicaraguan Development Institute, the Confederation of Nicaraguan Professional Associations and the Nicaragua Internet Association.

Also already closed were the Cocibolca Equestrian Center, the Rotary Club of the western city of Lyon and the Operation Smile Association which funded free surgery for children with cleft lip and palate until it was canceled in March. A prominent businessman associated with that group took part in anti-government protests in 2018.

Many organizations were dedicated to helping the most marginalized people in a poor nation.

Ortega has accused private groups of working for foreign interests to destabilize his government.

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