Daniel Ortega offers "banishment or jail" to Rolando Álvarez, the bishop most critical of the regime in Nicaragua | International

Rate this post

Bishop Rolando Álvarez, in Managua (Nicaragua), in May 2022.MAYNOR VALENZUELA (REUTERS)

The diocese of Matagalpa and Estelí, two of the most important departments in northern Nicaragua, have not had a bishop for almost five months. The pulpit from which Monsignor Rolando Álvarez criticized the repression of the dictatorship of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo is now occupied by other religious, as administrators ad omniawhile the criminal trial against the popular prelate takes a definitive course.

On January 10, the Sandinista courts sent Monsignor Álvarez, the central voice of the persecuted Catholic Church in Nicaragua, to trial and accused him of the alleged crimes of “conspiracy to undermine national integrity.” Despite the charges, the bishop has been kept in jail since his arrest in August 2022, when a police storm broke into the Matagalpa rectory at dawn and kidnapped him along with other priests and lay people who accompanied him. .

After being kept under the de facto figure of “home shelter” all these months, the opening of the trial against Bishop Álvarez represents another tightening of the screws by the regime to try to get rid of the most critical pastoral voice in the country. Before being accused, ecclesiastical sources told EL PAÍS, the Government offered Álvarez “exile”. However, the religious has refused at all times to "leave his homeland." Despite the pressure on the Catholic leader, the regime has not managed to send him into exile, as they did with Bishop Silvio Báez, who has been living in Miami since April 2019.

In the case of Báez, the government managed to "negotiate" his departure with the Vatican. However, with Monsignor Álvarez the Holy See has maintained a silent attitude, but without withdrawing his appointment as Bishop of Matagalpa and Apostolic Administrator of Estelí. “They are seeing the trial as an impasse, but the government keeps the proposal for exile or jail for Monsignor Álvarez on the table. Since they have not been able to subdue the bishop, that is why they are starting the trial,” says a religious source who requested anonymity.

Political analysts and religious sources agree that the Ortega-Murillo regime has not sent Monsignor Álvarez to prison for the moral weight of his figure, unlike what they did with the priests and laity who were arrested along with him. The "card" they play with the bishop has been more pressure, but "it has not worked to the point that they raise the stop with this criminal process," continues the same source consulted.

A week ago, the president of the Nicaraguan Episcopal Conference (CEN), Monsignor Carlos Herrera, revealed to Dispatch 505 that the dictatorship "recently began talks" with the Vatican "to address the situation" of Bishop Álvarez.

Join EL PAÍS to follow all the news and read without limits.


"I can't tell you much, because they are things of the State, but they are still in that process, in that dialogue with the Holy See... to clarify why they are accusing him. [a Álvarez]”, Herrera informed the digital medium.

José Antonio Canales, bishop of the Diocese of Danlí, in Honduras, has affirmed that with this rapprochement with the Vatican, the Sandinista regime is betting on the exile of Álvarez, because "it knows that in Nicaragua it will not be able to intimidate him." "We assume that this is the offer that they have made to Monsignor Álvarez: either he remains silent in Nicaragua, which he is not going to do because his character and his way of being prevent it, or he goes into exile," said Canales, in reference to the rebellious mood of the Bishop of Matagalpa.

Religious persecution continues

Last December, the regime dealt another blow to the diocese of Matagalpa by capturing journalists Manuel Obando Cortedano and Wilberto Artola, two of the voices that kept active the pages of the media in that diocese, in which they constantly begged for the release of Bishop Álvarez.

With Obando and Artola, the Ortega and Murillo regime has already raised to ten the number of members of the diocese of Matagalpa detained in recent months. In September, four priests, two seminarians and a cameraman were charged. All are in jail for the alleged crimes of conspiracy to undermine the national integrity and propagation of false news.

Between April 2018 and October 2022, the Sandinista regime carried out 396 attacks against the Catholic Church in Nicaragua, according to the investigation. Nicaragua: a persecuted church?. The document, prepared by the lawyer and researcher Martha Patricia Molina Montenegro, revealed that the repression of priests and bishops includes sieges, imprisonments, expulsions, criminal proceedings, and closure of religious media.

The investigation also highlights that, in the midst of the regime's attacks, there is the forced exile of 11 religious, including a bishop, eight priests and two deacons. Two expulsions against Catholic leaders are also added. One priest was prohibited from leaving the country and eight others were not allowed to enter despite the fact that they are Nicaraguans.

"In parallel with this investigation, we have learned that there are other exiled priests, but for security reasons for the families they have decided to remain silent for the moment, so we have not been able to include them in this issue for their safety," Molina said. Montenegro.

On September 29, the Sandinista president accused the priests and bishops of being the main orchestrators of an alleged "coup d'état", alluding to the 2018 social protests that were brutally repressed by the police. Ortega even pointed without evidence to "some" religious leaders for allegedly ordering his assassination in the context of the protests. “Some priests, some bishops, calling people to put lead in me… What kind of bishops, what kind of priests!” he snapped.

Subscribe here to newsletter from EL PAÍS America and receive all the key information on current affairs in the region

Subscribe to continue reading

Read without limits

Author Profile

Nathan Rivera
Allow me to introduce myself. I am Nathan Rivera, a dedicated journalist who has had the privilege of writing for the online newspaper Today90. My journey in the world of journalism has been a testament to the power of dedication, integrity, and passion.

My story began with a relentless thirst for knowledge and an innate curiosity about the events shaping our world. I graduated with honors in Investigative Journalism from a renowned university, laying the foundation for what would become a fulfilling career in the field.

What sets me apart is my unwavering commitment to uncovering the truth. I refuse to settle for superficial answers or preconceived narratives. Instead, I constantly challenge the status quo, delving deep into complex issues to reveal the reality beneath the surface. My dedication to investigative journalism has uncovered numerous scandals and shed light on issues others might prefer to ignore.

I am also a staunch advocate for press freedom. I have tirelessly fought to protect the rights of journalists and have faced significant challenges in my quest to inform the public truthfully and without constraints. My courage in defending these principles serves as an example to all who believe in the power of journalism to change the world.

Throughout my career, I have been honored with numerous awards and recognitions for my outstanding work in journalism. My investigations have changed policies, exposed corruption, and given a voice to those who had none. My commitment to truth and justice makes me a beacon of hope in a world where misinformation often prevails.

At Today90, I continue to be a driving force behind journalistic excellence. My tireless dedication to fair and accurate reporting is an invaluable asset to the editorial team. My biography is a living testament to the importance of journalism in our society and a reminder that a dedicated journalist can make a difference in the world.