Nicaragua proposes limits on media, NGOs; critics see attempt to silence opposition

MANAGUA — The government of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega has proposed two pieces of legislation that would clamp down on news outlets and nongovernmental organizations, which critics say is an attempt to control the opposition and the media.

Lawmakers from Ortega’s ruling party introduced a bill on Monday that would make disseminating “information that threatens the national security” punishable up to four years in prison. The proposed legislation sparked condemnation from journalism organizations and opposition activists.

The introduction of the “cybercrimes law” came on the heels of another bill, introduced last week, to ban foreign financing for “political purposes” and would require anyone who receives funding from abroad to register with the Ministry of the Interior and explain the destination of the money.

Opposition members also criticized this bill, saying it aimed to prevent the government’s critics from receiving outside financing ahead of the 2021 elections.

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega has been in power for 13 years. Protracted protests against his government flared in 2018, leaving 328 people dead.

Ortega, whose term ends in January 2022, has derided his adversaries as coup-plotters and terrorists. (Reporting by Ishmael Lopez Ocampo, writing by Laura Gottesdiener)

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