MANAGUA, NICARAGUA, OCT. 2 -- The Star and Herald of Panama City, the oldest English-language newspaper in Latin America, will close indefinitely Sunday, in what its editor-in-chief called political self-censorship by the paper's publisher.

A terse announcement from the publisher saying that the 138-year-old daily will print its last edition Sunday because of a failing "economic situation" appeared this morning in a Spanish-language paper owned by the same company.

The publisher of both papers, Tomas Altamirano Duque, is a legislator from a progovernment political party, which is also the political wing of the armed forces.

Star and Herald editor Jose Gabriel Duque, a cousin of the publisher, charged that Altamirano is closing the paper because it has continued to carry news about opposition activities since late July, when all opposition media in Panama were closed by the government.

Osvaldo Gudino, a spokesman for the Justice Ministry, said the closure was "a unilateral decision by the newspaper."

A reporter for the paper said that in recent months Altamirano inspected the final layout of both papers nightly before publication and removed many stories about the opposition. Panama has been gripped by a four-month crisis in which a broad middle-class alliance is calling for strongman Gen. Manuel Antonio Noriega to step down.

Duque charged the publisher is closing the paper to preserve a printing business that handles government contracts for the phone directory and national lottery tickets.