Matagalpa under siege: residents resent the police siege

Matagalpa under siege: residents resent the police siege

The dozens of officers, who they keep the bishop of Matagalpa, Rolando José Álvarez, and ten of his collaborators in the Episcopal Curia locked updisrupted the daily life of the city center with the suspension of activities of its residents, damages to businesses and limitations to transport in the surroundings, when the police siege is completed for a week this Wednesday, August 10 and when the pressures of the regime grow to achieve his exile, according to ecclesiastical sources.

When Álvarez faced the police with the Blessed Sacrament in his hands accompanied by faithful with their rosaries on August 4, “José” felt fear because the days of April 2018 came to his mind, marked by repression. For him, it also meant a subsequent problem: dealing day after day with the cordon of officers that blocks the access road through which he must cross to reach his work center. He then decided that it was best to stay home to avoid problems.

The city of Matagalpa expands in the north of the country. It has an area of ​​619.4 square kilometers, is located 128 kilometers from Managua and has two main roads that allow you to travel: a street to “go up” known as the Trade. The other is useful for “down” and they call it the “Street of the Banks”, due to the presence of finance companies and banks, it is the one that is currently taken over by the authorities and where the population is subjected to strict police controls.

“In my case, I had errands to run. But they didn’t let go. They completely blocked the streets on August 4. The order was not to let anyone pass. All of us who work in the surrounding area were affected. In this entire sector, in addition to banks, there are finance companies, travel agency offices, law firms, bakeries, shipping companies, English academies, sorbet shops, pharmacies, laboratories, restaurants and shops,” said “José.”

This journalistic account is based on the testimonies of five residents of Matagalpa, who agreed to tell the vicissitudes they have faced in the last seven days to lead a “normal” life, after the Directorate of Special Operations (DOEP) limited access to the Episcopal Curia, establishing an initial perimeter of four blocks that was reduced to one block last Sunday.

Since the end of last May, the regime has intensified its attacks on the Church. First he surrounded Bishop Álvarez in Managua and Father Harvesting Padilla in Masaya. He imprisoned two priests: in June at parish priest of Nandaime Manuel Garciaand in July to Monsignor Leonardo Urbina of Boaco. The first accused of allegedly assaulting a woman, and the second of an alleged rape of a teenager. Both have faced trials considered, by independent experts, as examples of processes without guarantees, while the Executive has intensified the hate speech against the priests, whom they accuse of conspiring in an alleged “coup” d’état as they call the demonstrations of 2018.

The formula of terror: Avellán and Gutiérrez

For “Alberta”, the most intimidating thing in Matagalpa is to observe while citizens carry out their daily activities to police officers located every two or three meters away in an exhibition of their “muscle” that affects both private vehicles, bus drivers and taxi drivers who circulate in the surrounding area and are forced to travel further afield to complete their clients’ races. “Not even the garbage truck can access, nobody! The Police are armed to the teeth and with an attitude that instills fear”, she lamented.

“Francisco” affirms that the atmosphere in the city is very tense, because the officers can be seen near the Cathedral, but also on the sidewalk of the school, multiplying everywhere.

According to residents, consulted by CONFIDENTIAL, there are about 40 police around the Curia who are relieved every eight hours. They are armed with AKs and machine guns, they are supervised by Commissioner General Sergio Gutiérrez, the departmental chief and who approached Bishop Álvarez on August 4 to “advise” him to “collaborate with peace” when the religious prayed in the streets, surrounded by riot police.

Gutiérrez served as political secretary of the ruling party at the Managua headquarters when he was second in command of this delegation. In Matagalpa, the senior officer is under the orders of Deputy Director Ramón Avellán, accused of being one of the main operators of the presidential couple in the 2018 “clean-up operation”, as the violent clearing of the barricades erected by the population and which left hundreds of victims.

Due to this past, the population moves with caution to avoid aggression from the officers. “One, the truth, circulates with fear and with the concern that something is going to happen. They check everything on you. If you are going to go through the Episcopal Curia, they check your wallet, they ask for your identity card and which house you go to,” lamented “Francisco”, who as a Catholic rejects the position of the regime that considers the Church “an enemy”.

Matagalpa Police Chief Sergio Gutiérrez orders Bishop Rolando Álvarez to return to the interior of the curia on Thursday, August 4. Photo: Courtesy

Regime wants to impose exile

Church sources informed CONFIDENTIAL that the regime would be seeking to achieve the banishment of the critical bishop of the Ortega-Murillo Administration after days of police pressure. However, those same sources said that Álvarez did not accept. In 2019, the dictatorship forced the exile of the auxiliary bishop of Managua, Silvio Báez, after Pope Francis asked him to leave the country to protect it from threats from official fanatics.

On several occasions since 2018, Vice President Rosario Murillo tried to disqualify the religious, accusing them of conspiring against the Executive, after the priests and bishops assumed the defense of the human rights of citizens against the abuses of the State.

On August 5, Murillo said in her midday address that the country is full of Christ, while threatening that there were laws in the country and questioned those who sow, according to her, “hatred or discord.”

“We are not, as we said, for activities or buffoonery, or buffoonish gestures that were left behind and that also represent the absolute contempt of families. Because nobody wants that past from which we come, we live it and transcend it at the point of spirit, of strength of spirit. Nobody wants to, nobody can live frozen in the past, unless they have an unbalanced personality. No one wants to live generating conflicts, anxieties, anguish, quite the opposite… peace of mind!” Murillo said.

However, although Murillo did not mention the bishop of Matagalpa by name, hours after his speech, the regime’s police opened an “investigation” against Álvarez, accusing him of “organizing violent groups” and “fostering hatred” to extreme violence. police fence. On August 1, the Institute of Telecommunications and Post Office closed seven stations of the Diocese of Matagalpa in an attempt to silence the Catholic Churchsubsequently the police violently assaulted the sebaco parish and then they intensified their persecution against the Bishop of Matagalpa.

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