MEXICO CITY — The Nicaraguan government has expelled the Missionaries of Charity founded by Mother Teresa. Now, they are pursuing one of the few newspapers in the area that reported on the nuns being expelled.

According to an employee of La Prensa, two drivers of La Prensa’s independent newspaper were taken into custody and their homes raided by police.

After President Daniel Ortega’s government had closed the Missionaries of Charity in June, the government ordered that 18 nuns be expelled from their congregation.

Ortega’s government cracked down on opponents and nearly every civic organization that was not aligned with his regime.

According to La Prensa employees, the drivers were taken to El Chipote prison where many media and political figures are held.

Nearly 190 people have been imprisoned by the government, who are classified as political prisoners according to human rights groups and U.S. State Department. This includes seven people who could challenge Ortega for the presidency during his reelection campaign last November.

Renata Holmann is the daughter of Juan Lorenzo Holmann who was jailed as La Prensa’s manager. She said that her father had suffered from chronic illness and other health issues since his arrest in August.

Holmann was taken into custody by police after they raided the offices of La Prensa. Holmann was sentenced to nine-years in prison for money laundering, a charge that is often brought against journalists and government opponents.

The closing of the Missionaries of Charity local branch brought down the number of Nicaraguan non-governmental organizations to 758 in the past four years. According to the government, the groups failed to comply with the 2020 requirement that they register as “foreign agents”.

Ortega began by cancelling organizations he considered to be tied to the opposition. However, the government seems determined to wipe the entire landscape clean of any organization that it doesn’t control.

For 34 years, the Missionaries of Charity have been operating in Nicaragua a children’s centre, home for girls, and elderly facility. They offered music and theater classes for children, as well as vocational training to help child victims of violence.

These closures were made to protect a variety of groups, including the Society of Pediatrics (Nicaragu Development Institute), the Confederation of Nicaraguan Professional Associations (Confederation of Nicaraguan Professional Associations) and the Nicaragua Internet Association.

The Cocibolca Equestrian Center and Leon’s Rotary Club in western Leon were also closed. Also, the Operation Smile Association which funded free surgeries for children born with cleft lips and palates was shut down until March. An associated businessman was a prominent participant in the antigovernment protests of 2018.

Many of these organizations are dedicated to the welfare of the poorest people in a country.

Ortega accused nongovernmental organizations of working for foreign interests in order to destabilize the government.