The Film Archives
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La Prensa is a Nicaraguan newspaper, with offices in the capital Managua. Its current daily circulation is placed at 42,000.
After the fall of the government, Chamorro’s widow, Violeta served on the five member Junta of National Reconstruction. However, Chamorro and the middle-class supporters of the revolution had a different vision for the country than the Sandinistas. When it became apparent that these differences could not be resolved, Violeta Chamorro resigned from the junta in 1980 and began to oppose the Sandinistas.
At this point there was a split in La Prensa. The editor Xavier Chamorro Cardenal, together with 80% of the staff, left the paper to form El Nuevo Diario. This was a more pro-Sandinista paper.
Soon after the passing of new laws, freedom of the press once again became answerable to many political criteria. On July 22, 1979 the Law of National Emergency would allow all media in Nicaragua to be placed under government control. On September 10, 1980, decrees 511 and 512 established prior censorship for matters of national security.
In this period the US also started its campaign against the Sandinista government with support to the Contras. In this struggle under the Sandinistas, La Prensa was also often accused of being puppets of the CIA. They were accused of being Contra sympathizers and thus, “venda-patrias” or traitors to the motherland. The paper admitted to receiving funds from the National Endowment for Democracy, a bipartisan, Congressionally financed agency created to take over financing of groups that in the past might have received covert aid from the C.I.A. However, it said that this funding was publicly declared and legal.
On March 15, 1982, the government declared a State of Emergency which closed down all independent broadcast new programs. Sandinista censorship began clamping down on political dissent and criticism. That same year La Prensa was occupied three times by Sandinista forces, and were constantly surrounded by Sandinista mobs. Under the FSLN this pattern of hostility continued throughout the years of Sandinista rule.
La Prensa’s strident criticism of Sandinista policies, particularly its socialist economic policies, and its attacks on FSLN leader Daniel Ortega led the Sandinistas to adopt various restrictions on press freedom. La Prensa editors were harassed by state security, and the paper was sometimes censored or closed, although have a significantly higher circulation, than Sandinista “Barricade” (70 thousand copies against 45 in 1986). The restrictions were lifted in a deal between Ortega and his opponents in the run-up to the 1990 election.
The Republic of Nicaragua v. The United States of America was a 1984 case of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in which the ICJ ruled in favor of Nicaragua and against the United States and awarded reparations to Nicaragua. The ICJ held that the U.S. had violated international law by supporting the Contras in their rebellion against the Nicaraguan government and by mining Nicaragua’s harbors. The United States refused to participate in the proceedings after the Court rejected its argument that the ICJ lacked jurisdiction to hear the case. The U.S. later blocked enforcement of the judgment by the United Nations Security Council and thereby prevented Nicaragua from obtaining any actual compensation. The Nicaraguan government finally withdrew the complaint from the court in September 1992 (under the later, post-FSLN, government of Violeta Chamorro), following a repeal of the law requiring the country to seek compensation.
The Court found in its verdict that the United States was “in breach of its obligations under customary international law not to use force against another State”, “not to intervene in its affairs”, “not to violate its sovereignty”, “not to interrupt peaceful maritime commerce”, and “in breach of its obligations under Article XIX of the Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Navigation between the Parties signed at Managua on 21 January 1956.”
The Court had 16 final decisions upon which it voted. In Statement 9, the Court stated that the U.S. encouraged human rights violations by the Contras by the manual entitled Psychological Operations in Guerrilla Warfare. However, this did not make such acts attributable to the U.S.