Ortega Dictatorship Now Persecuting Catholic Laity

The arrest of three laypeople is seen as direct retribution by the Ortega dictatorship against Archbishop Rolando Álvarez and the Catholic Church.

Newsroom (30/01/2024 15:00, Gaudium Press)  Martha Patricia Molina, a researcher and lawyer specializing in the Ortega regime’s persecution of the Catholic Church, reports that last December agents of the dictatorship kidnapped and sentenced three lay people, a woman and two men who had worked with Bishop Rolando Álvarez.   Bishop Álvarez was recently deported to Italy.

On her X account, Martha wrote:”Marivi Elieth Andino Ramirez was kidnapped on Sunday, May 21, 2023, by police and paramilitaries. She was transferred to Managua to prisons where more than 40 forms of torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment are practiced. The Sandinista dictatorship didn’t care”.

The lawyer pointed out that: “Marivi was sentenced behind closed doors and without the right to a defense, and now she will have to serve six years in prison just for being a Catholic and having worked at Cáritas Diocesana de Estelí.

Another victim of the Ortega regime is Julio Rafael Berríos Noguera, 60, who was kidnapped by the police on May 22, 2023 for being a Catholic, part of the Cáritas-Estelí team and working with Bishop Rolando Álvarez.

Like Marivi, Julio Rafael has been sentenced to six years in prison and faces serious and chronic illnesses. According to the information provided by Molina, his health has deteriorated even further and he does not have access to the necessary medical care.

Molina also reports on the case of Santos Julio Sevilla Rivera, 55, who was kidnapped by Ortega’s police on May 20, 2023, “with no consideration for the disabilities he faces”.

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Julio had worked as a messenger for Cáritas Estelí for 23 years and had been a member of the choir at the parish of San Francisco de Asís for 26 years. At the time of his arrest, the police asked: “Where is the man from the church choir?” He was sentenced to six years in prison for alleged money laundering.

The Caritas Diocesan Association of Estelí lost its legal identity on February 7, 2022, which marked the beginning of the organization’s disaster throughout Nicaragua. On May 27, 2023, the regime claimed that Cáritas Diocesana de Nicaragua was involved in a crime of money laundering.

The arrest of these three laypeople is interpreted as direct retribution by the Ortega dictatorship against collaborators of Bishop Rolando Álvarez, a key figure in the resistance to oppression, the serious violation of human rights and religious freedom in Nicaragua.

Compiled by Florence MacDonald

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