Priests arrested or under house arrest, closure of Christian media, repression of organizations affiliated with Catholics, international experts denounce the deterioration of the conditions of religious freedom in Nicaragua.
The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) recently spoke out about the deterioration of the conditions of religious freedom in Nicaragua during the first half of 2022.
The report mentions the expulsion of the papal nuncio, the head of Vatican diplomacy in the country, "for unexplained reasons", the sentence to more than four years in prison "on false charges", and the arrest of another "for suspicious reasoning". He also denounces the intensification of the repression of Catholic-affiliated organizations "by closing charitable organizations and expelling their workers, depriving universities of their funding and legal status, closing the media and radio stations and eliminating non-governmental organizations”.
On August 1, several radios have received notifications of closure and seizure of equipment. This censorship was imposed on the oldest Catholic radio station in Matagalpa, Radio Hermanos, as on many other Christian radio stations. A situation described by the European Union and the United States as a "arbitrary decision". For the spokesperson for the European Union's External Action Service, Peter Stano, this is "a new violation of freedom of expression and freedom of religion or belief in Nicaragua".
The 4 last August, Archbishop Rolando Alvarez of Matagalpa, who had coordinated a network of five Catholic radio stations closed a few days earlier, as well as six priests and six lay Catholics, were prevented by the police from celebrating mass. Photos and videos of this scene were relayed on social networks.
Oremos for the Church of Nicaragua 🇳🇮
Mons. Rolando Álvarez de rodillas en la puerta de la Curia, rodeado por policías y antimotines que lo asedian y maintaineden sitiado desde ayer. 🫀 pic.twitter.com/FE4fSGw6Nt
— Fray Foto (@fray_foto) August 4
Urgent: Antimotines in #Nicaragua blocked the salida of Monsignor Rolando Álvarez, who pretended to realize a misa in the Cathedral of Matagalpa. Junto a Álvarez hay seis sacerdotes más encerrados en la casa cural. 4/08/2022. pic.twitter.com/Sh2Ankhasv
—Houston Castillo (@HoustonTexasni) August 4
Under house arrest with 10 other lay people and religious and watched by the police, he celebrated a mass on August 11 from the bishopric of the city, broadcast on social networks. “Thank God we are in good health,” he said at the time.
That same day, the priest Aníbal Manzanares was forbidden to leave his parish. "My good friends and brothers, the police warned me this morning that I do not have permission to go out, I cannot go to the streets, processions, activities outside the parish temple, so I think that they are watching me, ”he explained on social networks.
On Saturday, the regime of Daniel Ortega, President of Nicaragua, banned a catholic procession in Matagalpa.
Earlier, in July, the Missionaries of Charity learned that they had to leave the country. The government had announced the closure of their association, accusing them of having failed in their legal obligations and of not being accredited by the Ministry of the Family. Present in Nicaragua since the arrival of Mother Teresa in 1988, the nuns welcomed abandoned adolescents or victims of abuse into their homes, cared for minors at risk, ran a crèche and took care of the elderly.
In its annual report released this year, USCIRF already called for the country to be kept on the Special Watch List for committing or condoning serious religious freedom violations.