New kidnapping of a Catholic priest in Nicaragua
The Catholic priest Fernando Zamora Silva was illegally detained this Sunday, July 9, in the Nicaraguan capital, Managua. Zamora is responsible for the diocese of Siuna, in the coastal region of the country. The priest was detained in the early evening by a group of police officers and has not been seen since.
According to Nicaraguan opposition sources, the arrest took place a few meters from a parish in the north of the city. Zamora was leaving a religious celebration to which he was invited, led by Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes, when he was kidnapped. Witnesses confirm that he was last seen being taken away by the police in a vehicle. Zamora was arrested with all his belongings and has not yet been charged with a specific charge.
According to these sources, there are no known charges or accusations against Zamora, and this arrest is part of the persecution that the Ortega government is carrying out against the Catholic Church. Four other priests, including Monsignor Rolando Álvarez, bishop of the Matagalpa diocese, are also arbitrarily detained. According to opposition organizations in Nicaragua, these priests are being tried for allegedly conspiring against the Sandinista regime. Álvarez, the Nicaraguan bishop, was sentenced to 26 years in prison for "rebelling against the state" in February 2023.
Ortega and his regime have classified Nicaraguan religious leaders as "terrorists." In recent months, the Sandinistas have arrested more than twenty religious and their collaborators, as was the case with the arrest of Álvarez in February. For now, no charges or sentences have been filed for those detained, and the location of many of them is unknown.
Religious repression in Nicaragua already has more than twenty detainees
The Foundation for the Freedom of Nicaragua, chaired by Félix Maradiaga, a former political prisoner, has called on the international community to show solidarity with the victims of this repression.
Since the beginning of his regime, in 2018 and his re-election in 2021, Ortega has persecuted the bishops and religious groups that have tried to denounce their actions against human rights and the crisis that the country is experiencing.
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