In Nicaragua, the dictatorship targets the Catholic Church [OPINION]

It is a great classic of dictatorships and totalitarian powers: when the people balk, attack the Church. In Nicaragua, the dictatorial couple Daniel Ortega/ Rosario Murillo, who arrogated all the powers to themselves by distributing key positions to other family members (radio/television channels, advertising network, petrol stations, etc.), come to take a new step by arresting the bishop of Matagalpa, Rolando Alvarez. A courageous critic of the regime, he notably denounced the closure by the authorities of five Catholic radio stations in his diocese, demanded “respect” for freedom of worship and an end to the “harassment” suffered by the Catholic Church. Considered "destabilizing and provocative" by the authorities, his protests earned him to be besieged in his bishopric with his main collaborators for 15 days. Since August 4, no one could enter or leave, not even for supplies. “They received no drink, food or medicine; they only had beans and rice to eat,” complains Bianca Jagger, founder of the eponymous human rights NGO.

Finally, at dawn on Friday August 19, the police broke into the bishopric to arrest its occupants. Bishop Alvarez was placed under house arrest in a family home where the Cardinal Archbishop of Managua, Leopoldo Brenes was able to meet him. "His physical condition has deteriorated", testified the cardinal, but his "spirit and morale are strong". As for the eight other people arrested with the bishop of Matagalpa, five priests and three lay people, they would be detained in the sinister prison of El Chipote where many political opponents of the regime languish (there are more than 180 imprisoned in the country according to the 'European Union).

“I am following attentively, with concern and pain, the situation created in Nicaragua,” Pope Francis said Sunday, August 21, after the Angelus prayer. 26 former heads of state and government from Spain and Latin America called on Pope Francis on August 17 to "firmly defend the Nicaraguan people and their religious freedom", accusing the President of Nicaragua Daniel Ortega of " primitive dictatorship. On August 20, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was "deeply concerned about the serious obstruction of democratic and civic space in Nicaragua, and recent actions against civil society organizations, including those of the Catholic Church. He asked to guarantee "the protection of the rights of man and of all citizens, in particular the universal rights of peaceful assembly, freedom of association, thought, conscience and religion".

But strong in the old support of Russia and its allies (Cuba, Venezuela, Iran, Turkey), the Ortega couple seems totally insensitive to international condemnations, whether they come from the United Nations or the Organization of American States. Former Sandinista guerrilla admirer of Che Guevara, Daniel Ortega had already led the country from 1979 to 1990. He returned to power in 2007. Since then, he and his wife, at the head of a family oligarchy, have assumed all the powers with the anointing of the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN). In 2018, the repression of demonstrators against the dictatorship, some of whom had taken refuge in churches, left at least 355 dead, 2 injured, half a thousand prisoners and tens of thousands exiled. Daniel Ortega, 000, was re-elected in 76 for a fourth consecutive term as head of Nicaragua, in a ballot from which all his major opponents, arrested or forced into exile, were absent. During the first half of 2021, authorities shut down more than 2022 civil society organizations. On March 1, Nicaragua expelled the Apostolic Nuncio. Ultimately, the Catholic Church remains the only strong opponent in the country, hence the proliferation of prohibitions and vexations against priests, until this frontal attack against the bishopric of Matagalpa. He could be forced into exile as was, in 200, Mgr. Silvio Jose Baez, auxiliary bishop of the archbishop of Managua. The Ortega/Murillo couple clearly has a score to settle with the Catholic Church: in July 6, in a violent diatribe, President Ortega equated priests with “scum” who would use Christ “to destroy the lives of indigenous peoples. ". And his companion, Vice-President Rosario Murillo, joined in denouncing “satanic actions” (sic) committed by the Church against the regime.

Philip Oswald

source: La Croix

This article is published from Selection of the day.

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