The dictatorship of President Daniel Ortega and Vice President Rosario Murillo in Nicaragua has placed the red and black flags of the Sandinista National Liberation Front, their political party, in front of the cathedral in Matagalpa.
Newsdesk (27/06/2023 19:35, Gaudium Press) This action is seen as a provocation against the Catholic Church in Nicaragua. The bishop of Matagalpa, Rolando Álvarez, was sentenced on Feb. 10 to 26 years and four months in prison, charged with treason to the homeland.
Ortega has been in power since 2007. The Sandinistas are a socialist political party.
Martha Patricia Molina, a researcher and author of the report “Nicaragua: A Persecuted Church?”, has accused the Sandinista dictatorship of persecuting the Catholic Church in Nicaragua. She stated that the bishop of Matagalpa is being held captive in prison where he is subjected to physical and psychological torture. The dictatorship has also prohibited a procession for the Divine Child that was attended by thousands of faithful Catholics.
Molina believes that the act of placing the flags is intended to lower the morale of the clergy and weaken the diocese. Bishop Álvarez’s physical and mental health is unknown since his imprisonment in March. The regime staged a lunch event with the bishop in prison, which was criticized as a “disgusting and cynical” act by exiled auxiliary bishop Silvio Báez.
Molina has called on the international community to intervene to end the persecution of the Catholic Church and secure the release of Bishop Álvarez and three other arbitrarily imprisoned priests. Recently, three more priests were arrested by the regime.
Molina also highlighted that the faithful are not allowed to publicly say the rosary or mention Bishop Álvarez’s name. Violators of these restrictions face imprisonment. She urged the international community to stop financing the Ortega dictatorship, stating that the funds are used to continue the repression and persecution of the Catholic Church.
According to Molina, most priests are under constant surveillance by the police or paramilitaries, and this repression and persecution against the Church are being funded by the dictatorship. She emphasized that condemning Ortega’s regime is not enough if financing continues, as it only exacerbates the suffering and criminalization of the Nicaraguan people.
- Raju Hasmukh with files from CNA