Police sow terror in Mulukukú, after the arrest of the third priest

Police sow terror in Mulukukú, after the arrest of the third priest

Mulukukú, a remote town in the northern Caribbean of Nicaragua, woke up to a large presence of riot police on Monday, August 15, twelve hours after the arrest of the priest of the Espiritu Santo parish, Oscar Danilo Benavidez Davilathe third religious that Daniel Ortega’s regime has imprisoned in the country since last June.

The riot police officers, after Benavidez’s arrest, were located in key places in the town—at the exit of the parish street, next to the bridge and around the Police—to avoid any manifestation of discontent. A vehicle from the Directorate of Judicial Assistance toured the area, while the residents wondered in a disturbing way where they had taken the priest. The only answer they received is that he “is in Managua,” without specifying whether he was transferred to the police cell known as El Chipote.

Benavidez was captured two hours after his last Sunday mass on August 14, officiated at the Immaculate Conception Chapel. They arrested him at 5:50 in the afternoon, two blocks from the site, when he was transferred “without violence” to a patrol car from his truck, according to “Marcos”, a direct witness of the operation.

Police constantly patrol the streets of Mulukukú. Photo: Courtesy

“Since his truck is a double cab, they put an officer on each side. About 10 or 12 policemen were there. They only went around the Mulukukú station and left for Managua in the Police vehicle”, he recounted.

For this man, who had just left his job, it was surprising to see that they arrested a religious man who he considers “charismatic and a very good person.” To instill greater fear among the population that afternoon, two patrols full of armed officers toured the surroundings, after the arrest.

The priest Benavidez Dávila is the third priest imprisoned: the first was Manuel García in Nandaime, who was accused of allegedly assaulting a woman. Last July they arrested Monsignor Leonardo Urbina, whom they accuse of rape. In both cases, the trials have been characterized by a lack of due process, according to independent jurists.

It belongs to the Diocese of Matagalpa

Father Oscar Benavidez was new to the town of Mulukukú, he took over the parish on May 25 last. Although he served in the Diocese of Siuna, to which Mulukukú belongs, he comes from Matagalpa, currently under persecution by the Ortega-Murillo dictatorship. In 2016, the religious served as adviser to the Diocesan Youth Ministry. “The father tells the truth, asks for prayers for peace in Nicaragua and for Monsignor Rolando Álvarez,” explained the parishioner.

“Marcos” made reference to the Bishop of Matagalpa, who has been imprisoned since August 4 in the Episcopal Curia of Matagalpa by the Police, who opened an investigation for him. “organize violent groups” and “foster hatred”, hours after Vice President Rosario Murillo threatened those who “sow hatred or discord” that there are “laws” in the country.

The persecution of the Catholic Church has intensified with the arrest of the three priests, the police siege of others in Managua and Sebacothe expulsion of 18 nuns of the order of Mother Teresa of Calcuttathe closure of seven stations to the Diocese of Matagalpa and the prohibition last weekend of a procession of the Virgin of Fatima to the Archdiocese of Managua.

CONFIDENTIAL He called the bishop of Siuna, Monsignor Isidoro Mora, on his cell phone to consult him about the arrest of the Mulukukú priest, but he did not answer after at least three communication attempts on his cell phone.

On August 7th, the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua, of which Mora is a member, he sympathized with Álvarezsince the situation that the religious is experiencing touches them “in the heart as bishops and the Nicaraguan Church.”

The message of his last mass

Although in the Espiritu Santo parish there was no record of Father Benavidez’s homily on August 14, several parishioners confirmed its content.

“Carmen” said that her message on the day of her arrest was that “the truth could not be silenced” and that “we should pray for the situation in Nicaragua, for Monsignor Álvarez. He said that he was not afraid. Maybe that bothered them. No one imagined that (someone) was infiltrated as it seems in the end, “said the woman.

According to ecclesiastical sources, the priest Benavidez Dávila is 45 years old, he is originally from San Isidro in Matagalpa. From a family of Sandinista origin, the priest studied Agricultural Engineering on a scholarship in Cuba. His closest friends remember with admiration the story of his overcoming the poverty that he lived with his family in childhood.

As an adult, he worked with the Catholic Church in the La Chispa neighborhood, in San Pedro del Norte, and now he was in Mulukukú. In 2018, after the crisis unleashed by the repression of the regime, the priest began to see how the parishioners were afraid to attend mass and began to resign from the pastoral positions that he was in charge of as pastor. “He was always very brave and denounced injustices,” said one of his acquaintances.

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