NICARAGUA The National Assembly September 11 gave general approval to a bill to create a Journalists Colegio. In the subsequent, clause-by-clause reading debate was suspended after approval of the first clause. Clauses 5 and 10 would require media to ensure journalists they hire be members of the Colegio. The Nicaraguan Journalists Association (APN) and even some of the members of the Nicaraguan Journalists Union (UPN) - which sponsored the bill - asked the president to veto it. On September 20, the Supreme Electoral Council ordered several television commercials sponsored by the anti-Sandinista Association of Owners of Confiscated Property (AC) to be taken off the air. The Council justified its action, which was seen as censorship, by saying it was in line with its own regulation that bans all propaganda that "contains defamation, slander, libel or obscene, offensive or denigrating expressions against public officials, political parties and alliances." At issue was a repeated reference by the AC to the "black night" endured by the Nicaraguan people during the Sandinista government. Several presidential candidates, Catholic Cardinal Miguel Obando y Bravo, the human rights associations, La Prensa, La Tribuna, the Minister of Education and others have countered that it is not libel nor defamation to revisit the real and dramatic history of the Nicaraguan people. Sandinista Renovation Party (MRS) congressional candidate Jorge Samper, husband of Supreme Electoral Council president Rosa Marina Zelaya, sued Tomas Borge, the editor of Barricada, for libel and defamation. The charges stemmed from information published in Barricada asserting that Samper was a shareholder in lNPASA, the printing firm contracted by the Supreme Electoral Council to make the ballots. The suit was dismissed after Borge apologized both in court and in public print. Jaime Chamorro c., president of the board of directors of the daily La Prensa, was sentenced as coowner to pay a fine of 20,000 cordobas ($2,300) in a libel suit by Haroldo Montealegre, editor and president of La Tribuna and former presidential candidate. The sentence is being appealed, and thus payment of the fine has been suspended. The suit came about after La Prensa published a U.S. District Court document showing that Montealegre became a U.S. citizen in 1988, which would make him ineligible to run for president, even if he were to renounce his U.S. citizenship. The Supreme Electoral Court disqualified Montealegre. In a press conference, reported upon only by Barricada and Sandinista television news, Montealegre accused presidential candidate Arnoldo Aleman and Pedro J. Chamorro B. of having used Cuban Americans Pedro Reboredo and Jorge Mas Canosa, whom he called "drug traffickers," to "provide information and false documents to Aleman, who passed them on to Pedro Joaquin Chamorro," referring to the document published in La Prensa. A few days later, Mas Canosa said that he would sue Montealegre for libel. The trial took on political overtones as Montealegre and his newspaper waged a fierce campaign against Arnoldo Aleman, the only candidate of importance running against the Sandinistas. The majority of local criminal judges are Sandinistas and are allegedly highly politicized. Pablo Antonio Cuadra, editor of La Prensa, was sued for libel and defamation on September 7, for the publication of a list put together by Bristol Laboratories, which alerted citizens to a list of pharmacies that carried bootlegged medicines.The daily also published a list provided by the health ministry, which named pharmacies where officials had confiscated bootlegged medicines. Conny Lazo Rizo, owner of the Pharmacy Conny, filed a lawsuit for libel of defamation against the newspaper, even though her pharmacy had not been named on the list compiled privately by Bristol Laboratories, but appeared in the one from the health ministry. This is an election year, and for the first time in Nicaraguan history there is massive participation by political parties and alliances in the campaigns. In addition to 24 presidential candidates, 54 local organizations are running mayoral and city council candidates. In all, more than 32,000 candidates are reported to be running for some 2,500 elected offices. Among them are at least 20 journalists and newspaper executives. This political participation has impaired the objectivity, fairness and reliability of many media. On July 12, the National Assembly passed the Law for the Protection of the Human Rights of NonSmokers. Article 7 of the law says, "No advertising for tobacco or its byproducts shall be allowed in the media." This is considered a violation of the freedom of business to express itself. President Violeta Chamorro vetoed articles 7 and 8 of the new law, and the National Assembly accepted the veto. Advertising regulations were then substituted for the total blackout on tobacco advertising. On May 2, La Tribuna news editor Juan Navarro said that he had received a death threat at the front door of his home from Sandinista party activist Juan Carlos Perez Rodriguez. On May 20, Sandlnista radio station Zinica in the South Atlantic region was attacked by a group of people armed with clubs and machetes. Its 10-kilowatt transmitter was destroyed. Regarding unpunished crimes against journalists, only those accused of actually carrying out the murder of Pedro Joaquin Chamorro Cardenal on January 10, 1978, have been arrested, tried and sentenced, while those said to be behind it go unpunished.