The US denounces the harassment of the Church in Nicaragua

The US denounces the harassment of the Church in Nicaragua

Passport deductions for priests, attacks on catholic templesthe prison threats against religious figures and the suspension of the frequency of the only Protestant television channel in Nicaragua are examples of the decline in religious freedom in Nicaragua, according to the US State Department.

In its report Annual Report on Religious Freedom, released Thursday by the head of US diplomacy, Anthony Blinken, Washington recounts the persecution it has undertaken the government of President Daniel Ortega against those religious in Managua who have been critical of his administration since 2018. The report documents how the attacks against the clergy intensified in 2021.

“Throughout the year, President Daniel Ortega and the Vice President and First Lady, Rosario Murillo, verbally harassed priests and bishops, calling them ‘terrorists in cassocks’ and ‘coup plotters,’ and accusing them of committing crimes,” the report underlines. USA.

It also indicates that in 2021, pro-government groups besieged religious leaders and worshipers following the pattern started in 2018 when the protests started against President Daniel Ortega and where the Nicaraguan church opened temples to give refuge to opponents fleeing repression.

Nicaraguan faithful during a mass on Ash Wednesday in Holy Week.

The United States also stressed that the Ortega government blocked a donation made by Taiwan to the Archdiocese of Managua after Nicaragua broke diplomatic relations with Taiwan to resume them with the People’s Republic of China.

“On December 26, the Ortega administration blocked the donation from Taiwan and handed over the property to the People’s Republic of China, stating that it supported the one china policyPick up the report.

According to the United States, the Ortega government also seized the passport of a Nicaraguan priest, revoked the visas of at least two foreign priests after they criticized the presidential couple, and slashed public funding for the Central American University, UCA, run by a Catholic bishop critical of the government.

It also indicates that the attacks against the church also included verbal insults, death threats, theft of Catholic articles and the blocking of religious services.

In fact, he mentions the threat made by an official commentator named William Grigsby, who accused the Catholic bishops of conspiring with the ambassadors of the United States and Spain.

It also states that in November 2021, the Ortega government canceled the operating license of Channel 21 television, which was the only channel in the country that exclusively broadcast evangelical programs.

“Channel 21 was owned by relatives of evangelical pastor Guillermo Osorno, who ran as a presidential candidate in the November elections. The closure of the channel and the station occurred the day after Osorno gave a press conference in which he denounced irregularities in the electoral process,” the report underlined.

It is also mentioned that the police imprisoned 39 citizens, including opposition leaders, journalists and human rights defenders. Several of these prisoners requested Bibles through family visits, but the prison authorities denied these requests, as happened with the presidential candidate Miguel Mora and Félix Maradiaga.

The United States also emphasizes that in November, the government abolished the position of Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, appointed exclusively to the representative of the Holy See by presidential decree since 2000.

Given such actions, the report recalled that in December 2019, the United States added Nicaragua to a special watch list for “having committed” or tolerated serious violations of religious freedom.

Cuba and Venezuela, attacks on religious freedom persist

The United States also mentioned attacks against the catholic church in venezuela and the Evangelical Council, where clergy and other members of their religious communities were harassed, intimidated, and retaliated against for continuing to draw attention to the country’s humanitarian crisis and for “other criticism of the regime.”

It also indicates that after the Catholic Episcopal Conference of Venezuela (CEV) once condemned the actions of the security forces of the Maduro government, “the president of the regime described the bishops as “devils in cassocks.”

Similarly, the State Department report recalled that in July 2021, Maduro accused Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, of meddling in national affairs after the cardinal sent a letter to the Federation of Chambers of Trade of Venezuela (FEDECAMARAS) asking you to support serious negotiations to resolve the current crisis in the country.

The same attacks were issued by the vice president of Venezuela, Delcy Rodríguez, who said that “priests who want to do politics, take off their cassock and do politics.”

As for Cuba, the State Department report emphasizes, based on an organization, that the Communist Party of Cuba (PCCh), through its Office of Religious Affairs (ORA) and the Ministry of Justice (MOJ), continued to control most aspects of religious life.

It adds that based on the media, aggressions against religious were known in 2021, as happened on July 11 of that year when the security forces committed acts of violence, detained and harassed religious leaders from multiple religious communities who participated in peaceful demonstrations across the country.

According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), security forces beat Roman Catholic priest José Castor Álvarez Devesa when he offered help to an injured person at a protest in Camagüey on July 11.

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