Nicaragua: The Church complains of “repression” and relatives of political detainees denounce ill-treatment


In Nicaragua, the Catholic Church complains of "repression" and harassment, while theelatives of more than 180 opponents of President Daniel Ortega's imprisoned government denounced the mistreatment of detainees on Monday.

Five organizations of relatives of imprisoned opponents have launched an "urgent appeal" for their "immediate release" because of their "extreme physical and mental deterioration".

Imprisoned opponents are victims of a "policy of ill-treatment (...) in order to (them) exhaust, exterminate or mutilate", denounces a joint press release.

More than forty opponents accused in particular of "undermining national integrity" and money laundering were arrested in the months preceding the presidential election last November. Daniel Ortega was reappointed for a fourth consecutive term, with no serious opponents, seven of whom were arrested. The ballot was described as a “masquerade” in Brussels as in Washington.

At least 45 opponents, accused by the government of having plotted to overthrow Daniel Ortega with the support of the United States, have been sentenced since February to terms of up to 13 years in prison.

Relatives of prisoners continue to denounce conditions of detention that undermine their health, including “late or emergency hospitalization”.

In February, Hugo Torres, a hero of the Sandinista guerrilla who turned in opposition to President Ortega, died in hospital custody.

The organizations of relatives of detained opponents have expressed particular concern for the state of health of three prisoners, and more particularly for Nidia Barbosa, a 66-year-old activist who suffers from "serious heart problems" and hospitalized last week.

Relatives of the prisoners expressed their solidarity with Mgr Rolando Alvarez, the bishop of Matagalpa (north). The prelate, in charge of communication for the episcopal conference, has been holed up in his church since Thursday and declared himself on a hunger strike to protest against the police harassment he says he is the target of after denouncing the repression against the opposition.

The parish priest of Masaya (south), Harvy Padilla, ensures for his part that the police prevent him from leaving his church and on Sunday banned the faithful from going to the mass he was celebrating.

The Nicaraguan government has accused the bishops of aiding an "attempted coup" for sheltering protesters in churches during the bloody crackdown on opposition protests in 2018.

Since then, tension has never subsided between the Catholic Church and the government, which expelled the apostolic nuncio in March. On Friday, authorities suspended the cable transmission of the Catholic television channel.

Bishop Carlos Aviles, vicar of the Archdiocese of Managua denounced Sunday the “reduction to silence” of the television channel: “radical pacifism disturbs the violent, the criminals. They can't stand having their unpopularity thrown in their face, he said.

The Editorial Board (with AFP)

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Summary of news from March 22, 2023

By The Editorial Board
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