The president of Grupo Editorial El Siglo y La Estrella (GESE), Eduardo Quirós, announced today that he has sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to ask that the newspapers receive a license to engage in transactions with U.S. entities.
The temporary license granted to the group expires Jan. 6. The group was placed on a sanctions list in May due to the alleged connections between its owner, Abdul Waked, and money laundering. The action was taken by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
In a press conference, Quirós read the letter he sent to Kerry, in which he advocates a "definitive" solution to the situation. He said granting another temporary license would not be the right move, as it would only "delay the execution and not reverse the sentence."
The director recalled that Kerry, on different occasions, has recognized the importance of a free and active press.
"We at La Estrella and El Siglo are as curious as any other journalist, but that curiosity is about to be turned off and unfortunately the U.S. government will be responsible for that result," the letter said.
Quirós added that GESE has sought financial resources to continue normal operations, but said that remaining on the sanctions list would make that impossible to continue.
"Secretary Kerry, close ranks with us, and let us continue our vocation," the letter concluded.
Quirós added that he has met with Minister of Economy and Finance Dulcidio De la Guardia to find a definitive solution, but no concrete measures have been reached. He reiterated that the closure of these media would represent an attack on freedom of expression.
President Juan Carlos Varela has said that De La Guardia is preparing a "formal request" to the U:S. government asking it to extend the license.