Nicaraguan police detained Bishop Rolando Alvarez, a prominent opponent of Daniel Ortega

The Nicaraguan police raided this Friday the Episcopal Palace of the Diocese of Matagalpa (North) to arrest Bishop Rolando Alvarez, one of the major figures of the opposition of the country’s president, Daniel Ortega. Together with Alvarez they were arrested seven of his associates, who together with him have been detained and detained since the 4th of August last.

Alvarez, 55, bishop of the Diocese of Matagalpa and apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Esteli, has been accused by the National Police of attempt to “organize violent groups”allegedly “with the aim of destabilizing the Nicaraguan state and attacking the constitutional authorities”, although no evidence has yet been presented.

“Urgent! At that time, the National Police entered the episcopal curia of our Diocese of Matagalpa,” said this church headquarters on its social networks. “Worry about wearing the party dress to the Kingdom of GodAlvarez wrote on Twitter a few hours before he was captured.

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The prelate, a a major critic of the government of President Daniel Ortega, was arrested along with priests Jose Luis Díaz and Sadiel Eugarios, respectively the first and second vicars of the Matagalpa de San Pedro Cathedral. Ramiro Tierino, rector of Juan Pablo II University and head of the San Juan Bautista parish, as well as seminarians Darwin Leyva and Melquin Sequeira, cameraman Sergio Cardenas and priest Raul Gonzalez were also arrested.

Criticism of dissent

Managua’s auxiliary bishop in exile, Silvio Baez, condemned the arrest and asked authorities to release and respect Alvarez’s dignity. “It is with an outraged and wounded heart that I condemn the nighttime abduction of Bishop Alvarez. Those who know, tell where my brother bishop is! May his captors respect his dignity and release him! Once again the dictatorship defeats its own evil and diabolical spirit,” he tweeted.

The Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (Cenidh) said in a statement that “this morning the police violently attacked the episcopal curia of the Diocese of Matagalpa and kidnapped Monsignor Rolando Alvarez and other priests and laymen to an unknown destination.”

At least five priests and three seminarians were held for two weeks along with Bishop Alvarez. “My God! How outrageous! They took Monsignor Rolando Alvarez, along with the priests who were with him,” the father wrote. Edward Romananother Ortega critic, exiled to the United States.

“Enough of this silence! Speak those who must speak and show their faces, it’s called a ‘sin of omission,’” he added referring to Pope Francis, which has been criticized by various sectors for remaining silent on the issue in Nicaragua, a Catholic-majority country.

Ortega clashes with the Church

Alvarez’s arrest is the latest brush in a a history of friction between the Nicaraguan Catholic Church and the Sandinistas led by President Ortega.

This year, the Sandinista government expelled the apostolic nuncio Valdemar Stanislav Zomertag from the country. jailed three priests, shut down eight Catholic radio stations or downloaded from subscription television programs on three Catholic channels.

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Moreover, he has entered by force and invaded a parish, and is expelled 16 nuns from the missionaries of the Order of Mother Teresa of Calcutta. He also forbade the Archdiocese of Managua to hold a procession with the image of the pilgrim of the Virgin of Fatima.

President Ortega began describing the bishops as “terrorists” Nicaraguans who acted as mediators of a national dialogue seeking a peaceful solution to the crisis the country has been experiencing since April 2018.

Nicaragua’s crisis has intensified since controversial elections last November in which Ortega was re-elected to a fifth term, fourth in a row and second with his wife Rosario Murillo as vice president, with his main rivals in jail. The The Catholic community represents 58.5% of Nicaragua’s 6.5 million inhabitants, according to the latest national census.

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