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Nicaragua to consider “suspending” relations with Vatican

Nicaragua said Sunday that it is evaluating “the suspension” of diplomatic relations with the Vatican, after Pope Francis referred to the government of Daniel Ortega as a “rude dictatorship”.

“The Government of Reconciliation and National Unity of our Nicaragua, Blessed and Forever Free, specifies that between the Vatican State and the Republic of Nicaragua a suspension of Diplomatic Relations has been raised”, declared a communiqué from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

In the brief communiqué, the Nicaraguan government did not provide explanations on the reasons for its position.

However, the announcement comes after Pope Francis, in an interview to the Argentine portal Infobae, said on Friday that the Nicaraguan government was a “Hitlerian dictatorship” and “rude” and that President Ortega suffers from an “imbalance”.

The pontiff’s statements came a few days after the government of the Central American country decided to close two universities linked to the Catholic Church.

“With much respect, I have no choice but to think of an imbalance in the person who leads,” Francis said, referring to Ortega, in power since 2007 and reelected in elections that have been criticized as fraudulent.

During the interview, the Argentine pope made reference without naming him to Nicaraguan bishop Rolando Alvarez, sentenced in February to 26 years in prison for, among other charges, “undermining national integrity”.

“There we have a bishop in prison, a very serious, very capable man. He wanted to give his testimony and did not accept exile,” he said.

The bishop of Matagalpa, 56 years old, had been detained since August for conspiracy and refused to be deported to the United States with 222 other opponents released and expelled from the country accused of “traitors to the homeland”.

“It is a thing that is out of what we are living, it is as if I were to bring the communist dictatorship of 1917 or the Hitlerian dictatorship of ’35, to bring here the same (…) They are a type of gross dictatorships,” Francis added.

Church advocates for dialogue

In this Sunday’s mass, the cardinal and the archbishop of Nicaragua, Leopoldo Brenes, did not refer to the tense situation of the government with the Vatican.

On Friday, Brenes hoped that the dialogue will help solve the country’s problems as it happened in the past.

“I think it is very difficult to say when the dialogue begins, when it ends. I always think that dialogue and the work we have to do is like that little drop of water: the drop of water, I always say, does not break the stone by force, but by constancy,” Brenes told AFP.

The Nicaraguan cardinal’s statements came on the same day that Pope Francis lashed out against the situation in Nicaragua.

“He (the Pope) expressed the feelings of pain, of sadness that may occur in situations that may be occurring in the countries, but he is always the messenger of peace, messenger of reconciliation”, justified the archbishop.

Nicaragua is facing a wave of condemnation from the international community for the authoritarian drift of Ortega’s executive, who governs with his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo.

Hundreds of opponents were detained in the context of the repression that occurred in the aftermath of the massive anti-government protests of 2018.

The Ortega administration promoted since 2021 the tightening of laws to punish external financing of opponents and arrested more than 200 political, business and religious leaders.

In February, the government released 220 political opponents from prison and expelled them to the United States, stripping them of their nationality. Bishop Alvarez refused to travel in the group of those released and a court sentenced him to 26 years in prison for “undermining national integrity” and other charges.

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