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Barricada Closed by Government
Nicaragua Network Hotline, Monday 28 July 1997
In what appeared to be an attempt to silence the opposition media, the Ministry of Finance announced last week that the pro-Sandinista Radio Sandino and newspaper Barricada would be closed due to failure to pay taxes. Both media outlets were audited by the General Tax Office (DGI), which reported that the businesses owed more than $25,000 in taxes and $10,000 in other outstanding bills to the state. After public pressure forced the Aleman government to the negotiating table, a monthly repayment plan was worked out which allows both to remain in operation.
While it is true that both the newspaper and radio station are currently in arrears with the government, much of the crisis is due to the government's own bias in awarding contracts. Government advertisement contracts and official notices represent 30% of all advertising in the country, and there has been a boycott of Sandinista means of communication by the Aleman government. According to a statement released by the Central American members of the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters, "In awarding those contracts, the government excludes all media which are independent or do not agree with its aims, interests, and objectives. The only apparent goal of this unconsitutional practice is to make media which do not fit into its plans disappear."
There have also been cases in recent weeks of the government interfering with the radio transmissions of several Sandinista radio broadcasters. Both Radio Ya and La Primerisima had their transmissions interrupted during live broadcasts of student protests at which anti-riot police were brutally repressing demonstrators.
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