Nicaragua's Sandinista government has authorized the banned daily La Prensa to reopen uncensored, the paper's publisher says. Saturday's action is seen as another step toward complying with Central America's new peace treaty.
In a phone interview late Saturday night, publisher Violeta de Chamorro quoted a written agreement she said she had worked out with Sandinista comandante Jaime Wheelock Rom'an: ``The Nicaraguan government authorizes the reopening of La Prensa from today with no restrictions beyond those imposed by the responsible exercise of journalism.''
``We can't believe it,'' she said. ``I am very happy.''
The official Nicaraguan announcement of the move came late yesterday, after a well-informed Sandinista official had privately confirmed the news.
Mrs. Chamorro said that in the document she drafted with Mr. Wheelock, dated Sept. 19 but unsigned, La Prensa directors ``make plain their will to contribute to the climate of peace and understanding that the country requires to advance
in the process of dialogue and national reconciliation.''
The paper's editors hope to have La Prensa on the streets again by Monday afternoon, Chamorro said. But she thought technical problems after the 15-month closure might delay publication.
The lifting of the ban on the conservative La Prensa marks the Sandinistas' most striking step yet to open up Nicaragua's political system to opponents.
Under the Central American peace treaty signed Aug. 7 in Guatemala, Managua pledged to restore full democratic freedoms, including absolute liberty of the press.
Chamorro said she was given to understand in her talk with Wheelock that the Roman Catholic Church's Radio Catolica - banned in January 1986 - was also free to begin broadcasting again whenever it wished.
The Sandinista official, who requested anonymity, confirmed that impression. He pointed out that the radio station's director, Bismarck Carballo, had been allowed to return home last week, after 15 months' enforced exile.