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Saturday, October 1, 2022

Nicaraguan Police Enter Residence of Bishop Critical of Ortega

Nicaraguan police on Friday entered the residence of the bishop of Matagalpa, Rolando Alvarez, a government critic, who for the past two weeks was prevented from leaving the place to be investigated for trying to “destabilize” the country.

“SOS. Urgent. At this moment the National Police have entered the Episcopal Curia of our Diocese of Matagalpa” where Alvarez is, published the Diocese itself on its Facebook account early Friday morning, without providing further details.

Álvarez, bishop of the Diocese of Matagalpa, in the north of the country, had been held in his curia along with a dozen other people since August 4. 

The bishop’s detention occurred days after he denounced the closure by the authorities of five Catholic radio stations and demanded respect for religious “freedom” from the government of Daniel Ortega.

The police announced that the Diocese of Matagalpa is under investigation for attempting to “organize violent groups” and inciting “hatred” to “destabilize the State of Nicaragua”.

“We are in God’s hands,” the prelate said Thursday.

The retention of the bishop occurred in the midst of the friction that the Church has with the government of Ortega, a 76-year-old former guerrilla who has been in power since 2007, protected by three successive reelections.

The last one was in November 2021, with his opponents imprisoned or exiled and in the midst of international questioning.

The president accuses the bishops of being “coup plotters” for supporting the opposition protests that called for his resignation in 2018.

In the midst of the crisis, the Church tried in 2018 and 2019 to mediate a dialogue between the government and the opposition.

The president reproached the bishops for having welcomed an opposition proposal that sought to resolve the crisis by bringing forward the 2021 elections to shorten his presidential term.

Since then, relations have been deteriorating. This year there was the closing of Catholic media, among them the channel of the Episcopal Conference, and the recent arrest of priest Oscar Benavídez, without the reasons being known.

The Missionaries of Charity Association, of the order of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, which left the country in July, was also outlawed. The apostolic nuncio, Waldemar Sommertag, who participated in 2019 in the negotiations between the government and the opposition, had already been expelled in March.

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