MANAGUA — Nicaraguan Cardinal Miguel Obando y Bravo, an important ally of President Daniel Ortega, denied that he is visiting Costa Rica to treat brain cancer. Rumors circulating in the press stated Obando was in critical condition in San José.
“I want to clarify to the people of Nicaragua that I am in good health, thank God,” and that “the news does not conform to reality,” said the priest to state media, on Friday night by telephone from Costa Rica.
The priest explained that he traveled to San Jose for “a routine medical checkup, after minor outpatient surgery.” He didn’t elaborate on the surgery.
The rumors started after an opposition radio station called “La Corporación” said Friday that Obando had been diagnosed with “brain cancer and was being treated by neurologists in Costa Rica.”
The version also was denied by the bishop of the Cathedral of León, Bosco Vivas, who says he called Obando in Costa Rica after hearing the news.
Obando “feels good and is recovering well,” and that “it is not true that my condition is serious,” Vivas told the press.
Obando, 86, was Bishop of Managua until 2005 when the Vatican accepted his resignation after more than 75 years of service.
Obando was an influential religious leader who served several times as a mediator for the 1970 pro-Sandinista guerrillas, who fought against the Somoza dictatorship.
However, after the triumph of the Revolution of 1979, Obando accused Ortega’s presiding Sandinista government of religious persecution and became one of its strongest critics.
In 2004, the former Catholic leader took a radical turn and reconciled with Ortega, who in 2007 appointed him chairman of the Peace and Reconciliation Commission. The government entity is responsible for delivering aid to the poor, and Obando holds that position to this day.