Nicaraguan bishop arrested after two-week standoff at Matagalpa mansion | Nicaragua

Heavily armed Nicaraguan police raided the residence of a bishop, an outspoken critic of President Daniel Ortega’s government.

Rolando Álvarez, the bishop of Matagalpa, was arrested on Friday, several of whom had been in custody for two weeks after police set up a cordon to prevent the bishop from arriving at the city’s cathedral to celebrate Mass. Eight people, including a priest, were arrested.

Police then launched an investigation into the bishop, accusing Alvarez of “organizing violent groups and inciting them to commit acts of hatred against the population with the aim of destabilizing the Nicaraguan state.”

The nine men were forced to distribute food after police refused to deliver it to their besieged residences.

Before dawn Friday, Matagalpa Parish tweeted: At this point the National Police entered our Matagalpa parish Episcopal vicarage. ”

Police later released a statement saying he had been transferred to the capital, Managua, where he had been placed under house arrest.

Church sources fear he will be forced into exile, as did former Bishop of Managua Silvio José Baez Ortega. Nicaragua In 2019, after a wave of death threats.

The Ortega government has systematically suppressed dissent. Dozens of opposition leaders were arrested last year, Including eight potential presidential candidates.

Police and riot police patrol outside the Matagalpa parish building to prevent Rolando Alvarez from departing earlier this month. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Alvarez has been an outspoken defender of Nicaragua’s democracy since 2018. A wave of protests against the Ortega government was followed by a bloody crackdown on dissent.

Friday’s operation was led by Police Chief Ramon Avellan. Helped lead government crackdown in 2018It came after weeks of escalating tensions between the church and the government. Police surrounded the church, blocking the priest from entering and preventing Mass from being celebrated.

Three priests were arrested this year, forcing 12 Catholic radio stations and three Catholic cable TV channels to go on the air. The parliament, controlled by Ortega’s Sandinista National Liberation Front, Ordered the closure of over 1,000 NGOs, including Mother Teresa’s charities.

Roman Catholicism is Nicaragua’s predominant religion, but Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, have had a complicated relationship with the church over the decades.

The former Marxist guerrilla forged alliances with the church and disavowed his previous support for reproductive rights when he tried to regain the presidency in 2007 after a long absence from power. , Sign a law that strictly prohibits abortion.

But relations frayed after the Nicaraguan church brokered negotiations that fell through in the 2018 riots, and collapsed after senior clerics blamed a bloody crackdown that claimed the lives of about 350 people.

Ortega described the country’s bishop as a “terrorist” before winning a fourth term in office in an election widely denounced as a hoax, and the government expelled the papal legate in March.

“The dictators have steadily exterminated those who threaten their power. Only the churches, especially the Roman Catholic Church,” said pro-democracy activist Heidi Castillo.

Nicaraguan bishop arrested after two-week standoff at Matagalpa mansion | Nicaragua

Source link Nicaraguan bishop arrested after two-week standoff at Matagalpa mansion | Nicaragua

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