The priest Manuel Salvador García, parish priest of the Jesús de Nazareno church —also known as El Calvario—, in Nandaime, Granada, was arrested by the National Police this Wednesday, they confirmed to CONFIDENTIAL two sources close to the Catholic Church, who pointed out that the priest was allegedly transferred to the Judicial Assistance Directorate (DAJ), known as El Chipote.
The arrest occurred a day after the battery of media related to the Government released a video in which the exalted priest is observed inside the parish, carrying a machete while verbally defending himself from a group of subjects who from outside the temple threaten him with stone him, and insult him by calling him a “murderer.”
Shortly after 4:00 pm on Tuesday, May 31, the official media began a defamatory campaign against the 57-year-old priest, through the publication of two videos in which the religious’s defiant attitude is evidenced, which they describe as of “machete priest”.
This Wednesday, another government propaganda page published a 4:50-minute video, in which two men —one of them the author of the first video and identified as Cristian Torres— reported that the incident began because they tried to help a woman who She had allegedly been attacked by the priest, according to the testimony of an adolescent who left the parish house around 11:00 pm on May 30, asking for help.
However, the version compiled by the newspaper La Prensa, based on residents of Nandaime, reports that the priest assisted a woman who was beaten by her partner. In fact, in a part of the video, the priest García rebukes the men and tells them “What do you know about the problems that exist between the family?”
The subjects answered him with a series of offenses: “son of a bitch”, “you are the clown”, “father of lies”, “you are well drugged”; while the priest, noticeably annoyed, challenged them to dare to enter the church.
Torres assured that they called the Police, who asked the priest to open the temple, but he refused, assuring that he was in charge of the church. Until now, neither Father García nor the Diocese of Granada, in charge of the administration of the temple, have ruled on the matter.
The information collected by La Prensa indicates that after the video incident, the priest moved to his home in Carazo. The police surrounded the house and violently arrested him, but his whereabouts are still unknown.
However, in an article titled “Details of the moment: cassocks embarrassed”, published this Thursday in the official 19 Digital, they assure that the priest “abandoned” the temple and fled with an “unknown direction”. In the unsigned text, they question García’s attitude, pointing to it as “the latest event that shows the free fall and tailspin of the Catholic Church in Nicaragua.”
They assure without evidence that the priest was drunk. Likewise, they make a count of priests who are critical of the Government and who question his conduct, without pointing out that they have been victims of siege and threats by Ortega fanatics.
According to La Prensa, García suffers from diabetes and was recognized for questioning the actions of the Government of Daniel Ortega. Even after the execution of the cleaning operation in 2018, he was attacked by hooded subjects.
The arrest of the priest occurs in a context of direct attacks by the Ortega regime against the Catholic Church. In recent weeks, the Government intensified its defamatory campaigns and police persecution against the bishop of the Diocese of Matagalpa and apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Estelí, Monsignor Rolando José Álvarez, who had to take refuge in a church in Managua after the Police besieged him.
For his part, the priest Harving Padilla, head of the San Juan Bautista church in Masaya, had “parish for jail” for nine days, with all access to the temple blocked by police checkpoints and under the threat of imprisonment by agents.
The Ortega siege against priests and bishops
The 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 abroad, on 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.