Nicaragua: Priest Leaves His Parish After Days of Police Surveillance

Nicaragua: Priest Leaves His Parish After Days of Police Surveillance

Nicaraguan priest Harvin Padilla managed to leave his parish after more than a week of siege and immobilization by the National Police.

The more than 10 days of confinement under strong pressure from police and paramilitary agents failed to break the priest, who remained calm and serene while the police, controlled by the Sandinista government, blocked the four streets that converge with the parish of San Juan Bautista in Masaya.

Padilla denounced the measure as an illegal detention after four years of receiving death threats from Sandinista sympathizers and being the victim of a constant police and paramilitary siege.

According to sources close to the priest, approximately 30 officers were stationed in the area surrounding the church, who set up checkpoints on each corner and prevent the population from approaching the temple.

“They don’t let anyone pass. Those who live nearby have to say where they live, otherwise they won’t let them pass,” they warned.

However, the religious managed to leave on Tuesday, protected by other priests of the Catholic Church and for the moment his whereabouts are unknown.

In a previous conversation with the voice of americaPadilla, whom the government directly accuses of being involved in the murder of a police agent, said that the siege imposed by the government prevented him from any type of contact with the outside world.

“They don’t let me get food, they don’t let me get medicine, they prohibited access to the parishioners to attend mass on Sunday and all these days. I am already short of food and a little tense, I think it is normal due to the lockdown situation and because I am not carrying out my pastoral work,” Padilla said with a calm voice.

The priest denounced the police and paramilitary siege in his parish since May 15. According to what he described, that day a group of uniformed men arrived in two patrols, they took pictures of him during the homily and when he left, they approached some parishioners to ask for names and addresses of their homes.

Nicaraguan priest Harvin Padilla officiates a mass.

Faced with police surveillance, Father Padilla felt that a “parish for jail” regime had been imposed, since he had no guarantees that when he left he would not be harmed.

“Look closely that they have me here and the guards say that if I set foot outside, they will take me. So how am I going to get out of here? Now, the police are people who do not have moral authority, most of them are vulgar people and I am afraid, because instead of being a police officer that provides integrity to Nicaraguans, what they do is rage against their own brothers, ”he stressed. .

The priest, 54 years old and hypertensive, also denounced that there are people who tried to bring him food, but he assures that the police prevented it.

In 2018, the media related to the government disclosed an alleged audio of the religious in which a person is heard suggesting that they tie up and hide, even in a toilet, a policeman who was murdered and burned in the framework of the anti-government demonstrations that They broke out 48 months ago.

In December 2018, the priest was reported to the Public Ministry by two citizens for allegedly promoting and inciting hatred.

But Father Padilla has not remained silent in the face of the accusations and holds President Daniel Ortega and his wife Rosario Murillo directly responsible for these events, whom he points to as the main culprits of the government repression experienced by the population in 2018, when more than 325 Nicaraguans they lost their lives, and the department of Masaya became one of the most violent scenes of the social protests that took place throughout the country.

¨The biggest culprits are them, because if they were not looking for the guilty, they would look for the guilty through clean, human justice, but since they are the guilty ones and they cannot leave Carmen (presidential house), because they know very well that a town reproaches them and points out their own sins, their own crimes, the murders that occurred in 2018, the first thing they do is look for scapegoats to accuse them¨, he sentenced.

It is not the first time that the police corner a priest

This is not the first time the government has cornered a priest. In the San Miguel Arcángel parish, in Masaya, when the priest Edwing Román, a critic of the Daniel Ortega government and who provided humanitarian aid during the anti-government protests and state repression in April 2018, was still serving as a parish priest, almost the same suffering was suffered. level of police siege, after Román held a mass in honor of political prisoners along with their families.

In the San Miguel Arcángel church, in November 2019, electricity, water and internet services were cut off. In turn, the residents of the San Miguel neighborhood were not allowed to bring personal hygiene products, drinking water and food for Father Román and the relatives of the political prisoners who were locked up for at least nine days.

This week at least three religious have suffered harassment from the National Police. 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 last Thursday night and was under siege. police.

Since the morning of 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.

The Ortega government 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 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 government has also launched smear campaigns against the Church and its priests, promoting physical and verbal aggression by Sandinista 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, completed three years outside his homeland on April 23, after leaving at the request of Pope Francis to protect him.

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