MANAGUA, NICARAGUA, JAN. 26 -- The Sandinista government today announced permission for 13 radio and print news organizations to begin operations in accordance with the lifting of a state of emergency last week.
On orders of Interior Minister Tomas Borge, several radio news programs banned since 1982 under the state of emergency law are being allowed to resume broadcasting immediately, a ministry spokeswoman said. Also included under the orders are some new radio news programs, weekly magazines and the publication of an opposition labor union.
The government announcement authorizing the radio news shows and independent publications was the most significant step toward press freedom in Nicaragua since the opposition daily La Prensa was reopened without censorship last Sept. 19.
The radio news programs were Nicaragua's most important source of independent news before they were closed by the Sandinista government in March 1982, when the state of emergency was first imposed.
Capt. Nelba Blandon, the Interior Ministry spokeswoman, said the move showed the willingness of the Nicaraguan government to facilitate the flow of information under a Central American peace accord signed in August 1987 and reaffirmed last week.
But she said that a law separate from the state of emergency restricts ownership of television stations to the state. She said that owners of news media who had joined Nicaraguan rebels fighting the Sandinista government had to accept amnesty before they would be allowed to resume operations here.
Under a state of emergency all of Nicaragua's 22 independent radio news programs were shut down. In Nicaragua, journalists generally run news programs independently of the stations that broadcast them.
Blandon said that if some did not reopen now, it is because they had not yet made an official request for permission to do so.
A request for the reopening of one radio station, Radio Mundial, was rejected, and the Interior Ministry denied knowledge of a request by an opposition businessmen's association, the Superior Council of Private Enterprise, to open a private television station.
Among the radio programs being allowed back on the air are four news shows of Radio Corporacion, formerly Nicaragua's most popular radio station. Before the state of emergency was imposed, it had broadcast six independent news hours.
In addition, the Roman Catholic radio station, Radio Catolica, is being allowed to resume airing a news program, and a request by the president of the businessmen's group, Enrique Bolanos, to start a new radio program with some partners was approved.
Ramiro Gurdian, an opposition business leader, said the move was "a very positive step," but he cautioned that "the importance will be in how long we can keep" the radio news program. He added that if new U.S. funding for the the Nicaraguan rebels was approved, the government would probably close the news program down.
Among the publications allowed to reopened was "Solidarity," the monthly newspaper of the opposition workers' federation, the Labor Unification Central, closed amid violence in December 1985. The federation's president, Alvin Guthrie, said the first issue was printed yesterday on a press whose owner had feared his property might be confiscated by the government until he heard the news this afternoon reauthorizing publication.