MANAGUA – Executives of the opposition daily La Prensa argue that the leftist government of Daniel Ortega is persecuting the publication with an unjustified tax bill.
The newspaper’s vice-president, Hugo Holmann, says that among those joining in the attempted “blackmail” are presidential economic advisor Bayardo Arce and union leader Gustavo Porras, who is affiliated with the governing Sandinistas.
Arce, meanwhile, insists that La Prensa is complaining because it doesn’t want to pay taxes.
Holmann, in statements published Sept. 14 by La Prensa, said that when Arce was a lawmaker he “illegally” obtained the tax returns of media outlets and used the information as the basis for a tax measure penalizing the press.
La Prensa executives also said the tax bill is in retaliation for the paper’s having denounced acts of corruption and the power-sharing pact between Ortega and disgraced former President Arnoldo Alemán to divide key government posts among members of the Sandinista and Liberal parties.
The daily’s management says the DGA Tax Agency has presented La Prensa with a bill for 13.82 million córdobas ($742,191) in back taxes.
“It’s not true that La Prensa has that debt with the DGA since the newspaper duly pays all its taxes and fiscal obligations,” Holmann said, adding that in the fiscal year that ended in July La Prensa paid 33 million córdobas ($1.77 million) into the Nicaraguan treasury.
Holmann said that DGA officials have been pressuring him to sign a pledge to pay the taxes even though La Prensa has filed an appeal and no ruling has yet been issued.