Police surround church and prohibit departure from San Sebastián, patron saint of Monimbó

Police surround church and prohibit departure from San Sebastián, patron saint of Monimbó

The image of San Sebastián, patron of the indigenous neighborhood of Monimbó in Masaya, remained at the entrance of the Santa María Magdalena parish, after the general commissioner Juan Valle Valle, police chief of this department, closed the doors to the devotees — supported by the presence of dozens of riot police—when they tried to get the saint out into the street.

The state aggression occurred at 4:40 in the afternoon of this Tuesday, January 10, after the download of the image, a religious activity that arouses the joy and faith of the Masayas in this neighborhood, but that was compromised by the imposition of the police chief and the presence of the police forces that cut off any possibility of access to the site hours before.

The religious tradition of this community reaches its climax with the official celebration of San Sebastián on January 20, but ten days before the descent, activity in the street and the novena are prayed. This year citizens were victims of the regime’s ban on religious processions, considered a matter of public safety by the authorities. The dictatorship has intensified its persecution of the Catholic Church, imprisoning priests, expelling religious men and women, and closing stations that broadcast Christian messages.

CONFIDENTIAL He tried to communicate with the priest Pedro Méndez, from the Santa María de Magdalena parish, but it was impossible to reach him on his cell phone to talk about the issue. The most difficult moment occurred when Valle Valle —a known repressor of the regime of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo, sanctioned by the United States– prevented the exit of the saint abruptly.

The police chief agreed to momentarily open the doors with a complacent look until a resident told him that they were “obedient.” The image remained at the entrance, as can be seen at minute 14:58 of the video published on the Patrons of Masaya page on Facebook. Later they closed the gate again.

The residents saw a line of at least 17 anti-riot police facing the parish door, as they were able to verify. CONFIDENTIAL in the same recording.

In a disproportionate show of force, the dictatorship sent officers trained to combat terrorists and drug traffickers to end the procession. There were also line officers who were waiting in the trucks and others who were found distributed in the surroundings. All this caused discomfort in the neighborhood.

Commissioner General Juan Valle Valle, head of the Masaya Police, at the moment of closing the door on the population. // Photo: Capture taken from video of Patronos Masaya page on Facebook

The coordinator of the brotherhood, Santos Mercado, publicly expressed at minute 6:35 to the same means of communication, in another video published on the same page, which rejected the presence of officers. He complained that he sent a request to carry out the procession to the state cultural delegate, journalist Wilmor López. Not only did they receive no response, but Valle Valle came to prevail.

“We hope that between today and January 20 there will be a positive response, because I’m sure we got it out. Because the will of God is not the will of Commissioner Valle Valle,” said Mercado.

They stop the third procession in Masaya

It is the third time that the Police attack the religious beliefs of the population in Masaya. On September 20, 2022, the authorities also besieged the church St Geronimo to prevent the festivities of the patron saint of the city. Two months later, they did the same in another activity in honor to the cross and they made the population return to the parish of El Calvario.

In 2018, the Masayas were victims of the repression of the dictatorship. Thousands took to the streets to peacefully demand Ortega’s resignation. Just like across the country. There were 355 murdered in the context of those demonstrations in Nicaragua, according to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

The Church denounced human rights violations and received the victims of oppression in the temples. The dictatorship accused the religious of “coup plotters” without evidence and carried out a campaign of hate and repression.

The tensions this Tuesday, January 10, in Masaya coincided with the judicial decision to send the bishop of Matagalpa, Rolando Álvarez, to trial, prosecuted for the alleged crimes of “propagation of false news” and “conspiracy to undermine national integrity” in an unfair trial.

Police surround church and prohibit departure from San Sebastián, patron saint of Monimbó

More than 15 anti-riot officers in front of the entrance of the Santa María Magdalena parish in the Monimbó neighborhood of Masaya to prevent the procession of San Sebastián. Photo/Screenshot taken from the Patronos Masaya Facebook pageThe parish priest of the Santa María de Magdalena church, Pedro Méndez, was the victim of an attack by hooded men during the state repression in August 2018. A source close to the parish reported that the population was scared because they thought that in this new deployment of policemen would be arrested, but finally they sought to prevent the procession.

“They told him that if he wanted a permit he had to go to the Police this Wednesday, January 11,” they added.

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