The Nicaraguan Police entered the Episcopal Palace of the Diocese of Matagalpa, in the north of the country, this Friday and arrested Bishop Rolando Álvarez, as well as seven of his collaborators, who had been held and held since the 4th of last august.
“Urgent!. At this time, the National Police has entered the Episcopal Curia of our Diocese of Matagalpa,” reported that ecclesiastical headquarters on Facebook.
Álvarez, 55, Bishop of Matagalpa, is accused by the National Police of trying to “organize violent groups”, supposedly “with the purpose of destabilizing the State of Nicaragua and attacking the constitutional authorities”, although for the moment the agents have not presented supporting evidence.
The prelate, a critic of the government headed by Daniel Ortega, was arrested along with the priests José Luis Díaz and Sadiel Eugarrios, first and second vicar of the Matagalpa Cathedral of San Pedro. Ramiro Tijerino, rector of the John Paul II University and head of the San Juan Bautista parish, as well as seminarians Darvin Leyva and Melkin Sequeira, cameraman Sergio Cárdenas and priest Raúl González were also arrested.
Nicaraguan journalist Carlos Chamorro, one of the most critical voices of the government and currently exiled in Costa Rica due to repression, has reported through his social networks that the police have confessed to the “illegal raid” against the aforementioned diocese.
For his part, the exiled auxiliary bishop of Managua, Silvio Báez, also condemned the arrest and asked the authorities to release and respect Álvarez’s dignity.
“With an indignant and hurt heart, I condemn the nightly kidnapping of Bishop Álvarez. Those who know, tell where my brother bishop is! May his kidnappers respect his dignity and release him! Once again, the dictatorship once again overcomes its own evil and diabolical spirit,” he wrote in a tweet.
Álvarez’s arrest is the latest confrontation in a history of tension between the Nicaraguan Catholic Church and the Sandinistas led by President Ortega.
So far this year, the Sandinista government has expelled the apostolic nuncio Waldemar Stanislaw Sommertag from the country, imprisoned three priests, closed eight Catholic radio stations, removed three Catholic channels from subscription television programming, entered by force and raided a parish and has expelled 16 nuns from the missionary order of Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
President Ortega described as “terrorists” the Nicaraguan bishops who acted as mediators of a national dialogue that sought a peaceful solution to the crisis that the country has been experiencing since April 2018.
The crisis in Nicaragua was accentuated after the controversial elections last November in which Ortega was re-elected for a fifth term, fourth consecutive and second along with his wife, Rosario Murillo, as vice president, with his main contenders in prison.
The Catholic community represents 58.5% of the 6.5 million inhabitants of Nicaragua, according to the latest national census.