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American Companies Donate Pens For Opposition Newspaper In Nicaragua

December 11, 1987

WASHINGTON (AP) _ A donation of pens by two U.S. companies to La Prensa, the Nicaraguan opposition newspaper recently allowed to reopen by the Sandinista government, is more than symbolic support of a free press, a member of Congress says.

″These gifts offer important, practical support to the cause of free expression in Nicaragua,″ Rep. Nancy L. Johnson, R-Conn., said Thursday. The newspaper is suffering severe supply shortages, said Johnson aide Caroline Willson.

Mrs. Johnson said BIC Corp. of Milford, Conn., and Porex Technologies of Fairburn, Ga., donated pens that will be delivered this weekend by a group of U.S. lawmakers.

La Prensa publisher Violeta Chamorro approached Rep. Cass Ballenger, R- N.C., about the paper’s supply problems while the congressman was visiting Managua earlier this year, according to Mrs. Johnson.

The daily newspaper, with a circulation of about 100,000, resumed publication Oct. 1 following a 15-month, government-ordered suspension. The 62-year-old newspaper is free from the government censorship it was subjected to for nearly four years before the shutdown.

Ballenger and seven other congressmen will deliver 1,500 pens along with three typewriters, a mimeograph machine, boxes of paper, envelopes and legal pads and 1,200 pencils to Cardinal Miguel Obando y Bravo during a visit this weekend, said Ballenger aide Max Veale.

In October, Ballenger helped arrange for Radio Catolica, Nicaragua’s Roman Catholic radio station, to receive more than $40,000 worth of donated parts and equipment. That donation helped the station return to the airwaves after Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega lifted a ban against it.

Radio Catolica was closed Jan. 1, 1986, for failing to braodcast an Ortega speech. It reopened Oct. 2.

Ortega permitted the reopening of La Prensa and Radio Catolica as part of compliance with the regional peace plan signed Aug. 7 by Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.