Protests in Granada, Nicaragua, April 29, 2018. / Riderfoot/Shutterstock.
Mexico City Newsroom, May 20, 2022 / 17:25 pm (CNA).
Bishop Rolando José Álvarez Lagos of Matagalpa has charged that the police of President Daniel Ortega’s government harassed him by following him all day and into the night, and announced he will fast indefinitely “on water and whey” until the harassment ends.
In a video message released May 19 by the Archdiocese of Managua, Bishop Álvarez said that “today I have been followed all day and into the evening hours by the Sandinista police.”
The bishop said he was tailed when he went to his niece’s house for dinner that evening. The police “entered my circle of family privacy, they came to my private, family, paternal, maternal home, putting the safety of my family at risk.”
When he asked the police why they were following him, “they informed me they’re obeying orders.”
Later, he recalled, the policemen told him they were following him “for my safety. But we already know that the insecurity in this country is precisely (due to) the police.”
“Those who make us feel insecure by being followed are you, my brothers the police,” he said.
This is not the first time that Bishop Álvarez, who has been a clear defender of human rights and freedom in Nicaragua, has been harassed by the police working for the Ortega government, which has been in power since 2007.
Father Harvin Padilla of the Diocese of Masaya also charged this week that he has been followed and harassed by police and paramilitaries connected to the Ortega government.
At the beginning of May the Nicaraguan National Assembly, controlled by Daniel Ortega’s Sandinista National Liberation Front, which holds an 80% majority in the legislature, approved a report that accuses bishops and priests of participating in what Ortega considers a coup attempt in 2018.
The document accuses the Catholic Church of supporting the citizen protests that demanded in 2018 that Ortega leave power.
Ortega has been president of Nicaragua since 2007, and oversaw the abolition of presidential term limits in 2014.
He was a leader in the Sandinista National Liberation Front, which had ousted the Somoza dictatorship in 1979 and fought US-backed right-wing counterrevolutionaries during the 1980s. Ortega was also leader of Nicaragua from 1979 to 1990.
A crisis began in Nicaragua in April 2018 after Ortega announced social security and pension reforms. The changes were soon abandoned in the face of widespread, vocal opposition, but protests only intensified after more than 40 protesters were killed by security forces.
Security forces killed at least 320 protesters, with hundreds more arrested.
In March, Nicaragua expelled Archbishop Waldemar Stanislaw Sommertag, until then the apostolic nuncio, a decision that the Vatican described as “incomprehensible.”
The Justice and Peace Commission of the Archdiocese of Managua published a statement May 18 expressing its concern over “the situation in the country that we love as children of God, as Nicaraguans and as Christians.”
“We join in prayer so that God might transform hard hearts into feeling hearts, with love for others, free from feelings that impede the normality that leads to authentic social peace.”
“May love, forgiveness and mercy prevail in everyone in the search for the common good, practicing Christian principles,” the commission urged.
“Faithful to the mandate of the Lord, and faithful to her vocation, the Church will continue to announce the Gospel, denouncing the social structures of sin, accompanying the people, especially the poor and the weak,” they said.
“The mission of the Church will always provoke contradictions in this world where along with the light there is also the darkness of evil,” the Justice and Peace commission noted.