The newspaper La Prensa, the oldest in Nicaragua and critical of the Government of Daniel Ortega, denounced this Monday, August 22, that the Nicaraguan authorities carried out a “de facto confiscation” of his assets, a year after the National Police will forcefully occupy its facilities and arrest its general managerJuan Lorenzo Holmann Chamorro.
“For several days, regime operators have been carrying out construction works and moving some of the machinery and equipment. With these actions, the Ortega Murillo regime concretes the de facto confiscation of the assets of the industrial plant of Editorial La Prensa”, reported the media, which is now only published digitally.
The newspaper highlighted that the Nicaraguan Constitution prohibits confiscation, and that the State can only seize private assets when the law allows it, although with prior and fair compensation for those affected.
Article 44 of the Political Constitution of Nicaragua “guarantees the right of private property of movable and immovable property and of the instruments and means of production.” Likewise, it prohibits “the confiscation of assets” and establishes that officials who violate this provision “will respond with their assets at all times for the damages inflicted.”
The La Prensa building has been occupied by the Police since August 13, 2021. The dictatorship has also raided and confiscated the facilities of the newsrooms of CONFIDENTIALThis Week and the 100% News channel.
Value of almost ten million dollars
According to La Prensa, whose editorial staff was forced into exile last July following the arrest of two employees, their assets “at the time of seizure were worth close to $10 million.”
“In February 2021, an appraisal carried out to contract insurance took into account the physical state of the real estate, that is, civil works and/or buildings, and valued them at 1.84 million dollars. This includes offices, warehouses, parking, unloading area and other construction works”, according to the daily publication.
The machinery and equipment had an acquisition cost of 14.48 million dollars, but considering the depreciation for the years of use, a value of 6.04 million dollars was calculated. “The value of the construction, added to that of the machinery and equipment, totals 7.89 million dollars. But to that amount we must add the value of the land, which is around 1.80 million dollars. So, the total of the assets confiscated from the company reaches 9.68 million dollars”, detailed La Prensa.
The newspaper highlighted that among the confiscated assets are a 2.01 million dollar rotary printer and a 3.89 million dollar commercial printer, with the capacity to print, bind or glue, “books, brochures, flyers, and any other material printed, including ballot papers”.
“What use will you give to the machinery?” asked La Prensa, when there are less than three months to go before the municipal elections, for which it will be necessary to print specific electoral ballots for the 153 municipalities of Nicaragua.
End 96 years of history
“The Ortega Murillo regime is trying to put an end to 96 years of history of the dean of national journalism, dismantling the campus that houses it,” said the most emblematic media outlet in Nicaragua.
To occupy the facilities of La Prensa, located in an industrial area in the north of Managua, the Nicaraguan authorities alleged that the medium was allegedly used to commit crimes of “customs fraud, money laundering, goods and assets.”
Last April, Holmann Chamorronephew-in-law of former president Violeta Barrios de Chamorro, who defeated Ortega in the 1990 elections, was sentenced to nine years in prison for the alleged crime of “money laundering.”
La Prensa’s complaint comes within the framework of the sociopolitical crisis that Nicaragua has been experiencing since April 2018 and that, according to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), has left at least 355 dead —of which Ortega has admitted 200— , more than 200,000 exiles, and 190 prisoners.
According to the Nicaraguan Independent Journalists and Communicators movement (PCIN), some 120 journalists, not including La Prensa staff, have opted for exile since the beginning of the crisis.