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Bishop Rolando Álvarez: A year behind bars

biskup Rolando Alvarez z Nikaragui

STRINGER/AFP/East News

Daniel Esparza - published on 08/23/23

More than 150 political leaders in Nicaragua are currently in prison at the direct order of President Daniel Ortega. One of them is Bishop Rolando Álvarez

More than 150 political leaders in Nicaragua are currently in prison at the direct order of President Daniel Ortega. One of them is Bishop Rolando Álvarez. August 19 marked the first year anniversary since Ortega’s police stormed Matagalpa’s Curia, irregularly arresting Álvarez. He was later sentenced to 26 years in prison. At this point, nobody is quite sure of his whereabouts.

In a statement released the day after the assault on the Curia, the national police service said Bishop Rolando Álvarez was inciting violence. He was then accused of allegedly using media and social networks to incite acts of violence and destabilize the country. Back then, the police practically put the bishop under house arrest: Officials barred Álvarez, six other priests, and six laity from leaving the curia house as they were headed to the nearby cathedral.

These measures were taken after he voiced criticism over the government’s closing of five Catholic radio stations the previous week.

In his initial hearing, Álvarez was accused of “conspiracy to undermine national integrity,” of the “dissemination of fake news to the detriment of the Nicaraguan State and society,” and of “crimes against spirituality.”

The hearing was in charge of Judge Gloria María Saavedra Corrales, who had already sentenced the priests and laymen who were accompanying Bishop Álvarez when he was detained to 90 days in prison.

After refusing to leave with 222 political prisoners flown to the U.S. in February 2023, Bishop Rolando Álvarez was sentenced to 26 years in prison in Nicaragua.

According to media reports quoted by NPR, “Álvarez stopped at the stairs leading to the airplane and said, ‘Let the others be free. I will endure their punishment.’”

Álvarez has always been openly critical of Daniel Ortega’s regime. In May 2018, he was part of a team from the Bishops’ Conference who tried to mediate between Ortega and the opposition. The dialogue quickly broke down, leading to strong protests that were met with violent repression. Tensions have only increased since then.

Tags:
NicaraguaPersecution of Christians
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