The bishop of the Diocese of Matagalpa and apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Estelí, Monsignor Rolando Álvarez, managed to leave the Santo Cristo parish, in the Las Colinas sector, Managua, where he had been sheltering since Thursday night and was under police siege . Since the morning of this Monday, May 23, Monsignor Álvarez has been in the Matagalpa Seminary. However, as happened in Las Colinas, in Matagalpa a police fence is maintained around the Seminary and in the Archbishop’s Curia, as far as the bishop was unable to reach.
Monsignor Álvarez’s departure occurred after a communication between a priest and the government, although it is unknown who was in charge of the negotiation. A source linked to the Church confirmed to CONFIDENTIAL that the policemen who cordoned off the church of Las Colinas left the place around 6:00 am on Monday, and a group of priests from the Diocese of Managua went to the place to help Álvarez leave, who was found by another group of religious on the road to Matagalpa.
However, on the way to Matagalpa, several police patrols escorted the vehicle in which the bishop was transported. Police units were positioned in front and behind the car. “It was an incredible police deployment,” which he estimates at about 15 patrols in total, according to the source.
Due to the colossal siege, the priest was unable to gain access to the Archbishop’s Curia, which is currently under siege by the Police, and withdrew to the Seminary.
The monsignor’s transfer was achieved after the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua tried to communicate with the chief of police, Francisco Díaz, and he did not answer the calls. They also tried to reach the Presidency, through Foreign Minister Denis Moncada, but the letters presented were unsuccessful, revealed an anonymous source.
The complaint of Monsignor Rolando Álvarez
Álvarez denounced last Thursday that the Police – the repressive arm of the Ortega regime – persecuted him throughout the day, and invaded the house of his relatives. For that reason, he started “an indefinite water and serum fast until the National Police, through the president or vice president of the Episcopal Conference, only let me know that they are going to respect my family privacy circle,” he said in a video.
On Saturday, the bishop explained that his fast “is not a hunger strike”, but rather an “act reflected in the light of the Gospel, an act of salvation. It is not a political issue, but a faith issue,” he said. In addition, he remembered that he will not allow his rights to be violated. In response, hundreds of faithful Catholics expressed their support for the priest and joined in days of prayer for his cause. The Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua (CEN) also expressed solidarity with Monsignor Álvarez.
Eight days of police siege in Masaya
This Monday also marks eight days since the priest Harving Padilla, head of the San Juan Bautista parish in Masaya, remains under police and paramilitary surveillance. The harassment intensified as of this Saturday, when the Police imposed a police fence around the Church and prohibited vehicular and pedestrian circulation, with the exception of the people who live in those blocks.
This Sunday, the officers prevented the faithful from entering the Catholic temple and one of the agents tried to capture the religious. “They threatened me with jail, they made gestures that they were going to make me some keys, they shouted expletives, vulgarities, profanity at me, son of such,” he expressed to CONFIDENTIAL.
“Through their own mouths they said that at some point I was going to leave, and by not allowing food or medicine, they know very well that at any moment the body is going to weaken. They wait for me out there. What more sample can I expect from this Police? The priest, 54 years old and hypertensive, also reported that there are people who tried to bring him food, but the police prevented it.
He narrates that he spends his nights awake due to “any situation” that may arise. Father Padilla, in charge of the San Juan Bautista parish for 15 years, has also faced, since 2018, a smear campaign in the official media and social networks, involving him with the murder of a riot police officer during the “Cleaning Operation” that left blood and pain in Nicaragua in the context of the protests of the April Rebellion.
The regime’s propagandists base themselves on a supposed audio, where they point out Padilla’s complicity in that case. “That audio is an invention of the Sandinistas wanting to blame me for a situation that I was completely oblivious to. I denounce that they are completely manipulating this whole situation, and that this audio is totally manipulated by them… it is an audio that they made, ”replied the priest in defense of him, who has been the victim of siege at different times.
The siege and Ortega attacks against priests and bishops
The Daniel Ortega regime and his wife and vice president, Rosario Murillo, have maintained a frontal attack against bishops and priests of the Catholic Church, whom they describe as “terrorists” and “coup plotters” since 2018, when they raised their voices against the repression and massacre that left more than 325 murdered between April and September of that year, and its temples were used as a refuge for hundreds of students and citizens.
During the last four years, the regime has also launched smear campaigns against the Church and its priests, promoting physical and verbal aggression by Ortega fanatics, as occurred with the desecration of the Managua Cathedral during the body mass of the poet. Ernesto Cardenal, in March 2020. They have also threatened several priests with death, forcing them into exile. The auxiliary bishop of Managua, Monsignor Silvio José Báez celebrated three years outside his homeland, this April 23, after leaving at the request of Pope Francis to protect him.
Father Edwin Román, from the San Miguel Church in Masaya, also suffered along with the mortal victims of the repression in Masaya and had to go into exile for his safety. Likewise, the priest César Augusto Gutiérrez, from Masaya, had to leave the country due to the siege of Sandinista fanatics.
Dozens of other priests in different territories of the country have denounced police and paramilitary surveillance, especially during the messages they offer in their homilies. Another form of pressure exerted by the regime against priests has been the refusal to enter the country, as happened with two Franciscans in February 2021 and recently, with the expulsion of the highest representative of the Vatican in Nicaragua, the apostolic nuncio Waldemar Stalislaw Sommertag, in March.