TODAY NICARAGUA – A Nicaraguan judge has ruled two workers of La Prensa are to spend 90 days in pretrial detention after being arrested for reporting on the expulsion from the country of nuns belonging to the Misioneras de la Caridad (Missionaries of Charity), founded by Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
The reporters are being held in cells at the Judicial Assistance Directorate (DAJ), the newspaper said. “La Prensa demands respect for the law, the release of the detainees and the cessation of the persecution of the newspaper’s staff who are only doing their job, without committing any crime,” it claimed.
La Prensa said the measure was a response to the coverage of the expulsion to Costa Rica of nuns which was decreed by the Government of Daniel Ortega last Wednesday, which was labeled the Nicaraguan Catholic Church as an “opponent and coup leader.” Last March the Nicaraguan government expelled Nuncio Waldemar Sommertag. Between May and June, authorities also closed two Catholic television channels.
Meanwhile, all property which used to belong to NGOs outlawed by Ortega’s regime – namely Operación Sonrisa, Centro Humboldt, Puntos de Encuentro, La Corriente, Cantera, CEPS, and ANIA – has been seized by government officials, according to a Confidencial report.
Nicaragua’s lawmakers passed a law in April which tightens the government of Daniel Ortega controls over NGOs after in recent months has ordered closures of independent organizations on the grounds of alleged formal irregularities. A total of 858 Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) have been outlawed, out of more than 6,000.
“Ortega, who received Mother Teresa of Calcutta in the 1980s, is the one who expelled her religious congregation from the country,” denounced the independent Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (Cenidh) on Twitter. According to Cenidh, the nuns were deported as if they were “criminals”.
The religious organization was annulled last week by the Parliament, controlled by the ruling Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN), along with a hundred other NGOs, because they failed to comply with the law by not reporting their financial statements or explaining the origin of the donations they receive.
Cenidh insisted the authorities had violated “the honor and reputation” of the nuns “by affirming that they were not accredited” and “worked illegally in Nicaragua”.
According to La Prensa, the nuns, of various nationalities, left Nicaragua for Costa Rica by land.
Nicaragua is going through a socio-political crisis since April 2018, with mass demonstrations against the Ortega regime that were controlled by armed attacks that, according to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), left at least 355 dead, of which the Sandinista leadership recognizes just 200.
The situation worsened with the November 2021 elections, in which Ortega and Murillo were reelected, with seven of their potential opponents in jail and two in exile.