Nicaraguan newspapers change format due to lack of printing supplies that are stuck in customs

Nicaragua’s oldest newspaper reports it is having to change format due to withholding of ink, paper and other printing supplies by the General Directorate of Customs, according to news agency EFE.

92-year-old La Prensa, along with newspaper Hoy from Editorial Group La Prensa, will print 30 percent of its pages in black and white and will reduce page count, according to what media executives told EFE and Boletín Ecológico.

Jaime Chamorro Cardenal, president and director of La Prensa, told Boletín Ecológico that in spite of having carried out the legal procedures for paper and other supplies to clear customs, the authorities have not handed them over and have not given any justifications, according to the site Boletín Ecológico.

"We think that this is a new way of harassing, both us and El Nuevo Diario," Chamorro said in an interview with the Boletín Ecológico. He added that to save ink, paper, plates, etc., they have reduced their pages from 16 to 12, removing the entertainment sections. He said that the space for national news remains the same.

El Nuevo Diario of Nicaragua has had its newsprint shipment retained in customs for a week, according to what the newspaper published on its site. Now it only distributes its print version from Monday to Friday, it reported. Additionally, the editorial group of which this newspaper is part closed its popular newspaper Q'Hubo in December, for the same reasons, and reduced pages of its Metro newspaper, explained Arnulfo Somarriba, general manager of ND Medios.

For Álvaro Rivera, production manager La Prensa, this situation is part of the government's repression against the country's independent media. "They (the government) do not like to be told the truth and in this case they want to silence us in that way," he told EFE.

The editorial group would have enough printing materials to circulate until June of this year, Confidencial published. If this situation is not solved, the executives of La Prensa and Hoy said, both newspapers would stop circulating in print, suffer cuts in personnel and only publish their digital version, the site reported.

"La Prensa will be 93 years old, and we have an incredible story, closures, Somoza bombed it with planes, set it on fire, and it went out again. The Sandinistas censored it, for many years," Chamorro told Boletín Ecológico. "The international political price to close us, for them (the government) would be very serious, so they prefer this," he explained.