Ortega bets on banishing Bishop Álvarez from Nicaragua | International
is the headline of the news that the author of WTM News has collected this article. Stay tuned to WTM News to stay up to date with the latest news on this topic. We ask you to follow us on social networks.
The whereabouts of the bishop of the Nicaraguan city of Matagalpa was not known for almost four hours. At half past three in the morning of Friday, August 19, the special police forces of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo stormed the curia, where Monsignor Rolando Álvarez, an undesirable pastoral voice for the Sandinista regime, had been locked up for 15 days. He was taken out on a police patrol in the dark and at dawn the parishioners demanded to know where he was, fearful that they had taken him to the dreaded El Chipote prison or banished him through the airport or one of the land borders.
Neither one nor the other happened. The police reported that the bishop was transferred to the house of his relatives in the capital, Managua, where they imposed a house arrest measure on him, which, in the official jargon, is called “home shelter”, while “the authorities make legal inquiries ”. The Government maintains that the religious, along with the other seven priests and collaborators who were locked up in the curia, persisted “in destabilizing and provocative activities.”
Political analysts consulted by EL PAÍS agree that the presidential couple did not impose on Monsignor Álvarez the prison of the Directorate of Judicial Assistance (DAJ), better known as El Chipote, so as not to add a political prisoner of the magnitude of this bishop, very loved in the north of Nicaragua. The strategy has been, indicates sociologist Elvira Cuadra, to bid for the banishment of the religious leader born in Managua in 1966.
“Having him in prison implies very high political costs for the Ortega-Murillo regime; even if they have him under house arrest, either in Matagalpa or Managua. So, surely, they are going to try to convince him by different means to leave the country and those pressures will include his family who is now under house arrest, because that detention affects the restriction and mobility of all those who live in that house”, he maintains. Cuadra adds that another strong “pressure” is the arrest of the priests and collaborators who accompanied him, who were sent to El Chipote where they are kept incommunicado to this day.
The government has already achieved the forced exile of a critical bishop. It happened with Monsignor Silvio Báez in 2019, when he got the Vatican to order the prelate to leave the country. At that time, the relationship between Managua and the Vatican was still mediated by the nuncio Waldemar Stanisław Sommertag. However, the expulsion of the cleric completely fractured the bilateral relationship.
“The position of the Vatican with Monsignor Álvarez is striking: it can be seen that until now they have not imposed any decision on him in relation to what to do, as they did with Monsignor Silvio Báez. If any such religious order had been imposed on Bishop Álvarez, he would probably have already obeyed it. Another thing is that people are very hurt by what they have done to them,” says Cuadra.
Join EL PAÍS to follow all the news and read without limits.
The political scientist José Alcázar maintains that the presidential couple thought that Monsignor Álvarez was going to opt for exile on his own. However, the bishop clearly said in one of his masses in police captivity that he was not “leaving his homeland.” “All the pressures were pushing him in that direction, but Monsignor Álvarez did not give in and finally his figure grew so much that all the national and international sources were aware of his situation. There was pressure at different levels to silence Álvarez. And here the most significant thing is that, that he did not keep quiet and the regime had to resort to this type of strategy that I wanted to avoid from the beginning,” he said.
The Vatican has received much criticism for the silence of Pope Francis in the face of the religious persecution suffered by his Church in Nicaragua, which not only involves the case of Monsignor Álvarez, but also that of imprisoned and convicted priests, harassment of temples, physical attacks, and the impediment to officiate masses. However, the pontiff referred to Nicaragua during the Angelus prayer this Sunday, August 21.
“I follow the situation in Nicaragua with concern and pain. I would like to express my conviction and my hope that, through an open and sincere dialogue, the foundations for a respectful and peaceful coexistence can continue to be found,” Francis said.
In an interview with the journalist Carlos Fernando Chamorro, the sociologist Humberto Belli said that with Francisco’s statement the Church puts “the ball in the court” of Ortega and Murillo. Although he says that Francis’s message lacked “grit”, he also has something “positive”.
“The positive part that I see is that, by calling for dialogue —which the Pope cannot stop doing, nor can anyone renounce it, would at least ideally be the solution to most of the crisis—, he is putting the ball on the court to the Government. The Church is now officially calling for dialogue. She now it’s up to the Government to give an initiative. Well, I am going to release the prisoners as an expression of the dialogue, I am going to create a new dialogue table, I am going to [de prisión] some opposition representatives to talk to them,” Belli told Chamorro. And he added: “If the government remains silent, it is rejecting dialogue and, if it opens the doors insufficiently, the same. I see positive that the Pope expressed concern. It is a term that our bishops have not used.”
For now, Bishop Álvarez continues under house arrest, as a prisoner of conscience, analysts insist, while Ortega and Murillo have gotten bogged down with an uncomfortable religious whose arm they have not been able to bend.
Follow all the international information in Facebook Y Twitteror in our weekly newsletter.