Closely armed Nicaraguan police have raided the residence of a bishop who’s an outspoken critic of President Daniel Ortega’s authorities, within the newest blow towards the Roman Catholic church within the nation.
Rolando Álvarez, the bishop of Matagalpa, was arrested on Friday, together with eight others – together with a number of monks – who had been holed up for 2 weeks after police erected a cordon to forestall the bishop from reaching the town’s cathedral to rejoice a mass.
Police then launched an investigation of the bishop, accusing Álvarez of “organizing violent teams and inciting them to hold out acts of hate towards the inhabitants … with the goal of destabilizing the Nicaraguan state”.
The 9 males have been pressured to ration their meals after police refused to permit any deliveries to the besieged residence.
Earlier than daybreak on Friday, the Matagalpa diocese tweeted: “#SOS #Pressing. Presently the Nationwide Police have entered the Episcopal rectory of our Matagalpa diocese.”
Police later launched an announcement saying that Álvarez had been transferred to the capital Managua, the place he was being held underneath home arrest.
Church sources concern that he could also be pressured into exile, like the previous bishop of Managua Silvio José Báez Ortega, who left Nicaragua in 2019 after a wave of loss of life threats.
Ortega’s authorities has systematically crushed voices of dissent. Dozens of opposition leaders have been arrested final 12 months, together with eight potential presidential candidates.
Álvarez has been an outspoken advocate for democracy in Nicaragua since 2018, when a wave of protests towards Ortega’s authorities was adopted by a bloody crackdown on dissent.
Friday’s operation was directed by Ramón Avellán, the police chief who helped lead the federal government repression in 2018. It adopted weeks of heightened tensions between the church and the federal government. Police have surrounded church buildings, blocking monks from coming into and stopping them from saying mass.
Three monks have been arrested this 12 months, and12 Catholic radio stations and three Catholic cable TV channels have been pressured off air. The congress, which is dominated by Ortega’s Sandinista Nationwide Liberation Entrance, has ordered the closure of greater than 1,000 NGOs, together with Mom Teresa’s charity.
Roman Catholicism is Nicaragua’s most important faith, however Ortega and his spouse and vice-president, Rosario Murillo, have had an advanced relationship with the church for many years.
The previous Marxist guerrilla cast an alliance with the church as he sought to regain the presidency in 2007 after an extended interval out of energy, disowning his earlier assist for reproductive rights, and signing right into a regulation a strict ban on abortions.
However relations frayed after the Nicaraguan church mediated in failed talks through the 2018 rebellion, and ruptured after senior clerics denounced the bloody crackdown that claimed about 350 lives.
Ortega described the nation’s bishops as “terrorists” earlier than profitable his fourth time period in workplace in elections extensively denounced as a sham, and in March, the federal government expelled the papal nuncio.
“The dictators have been steadily annihilating anybody who represents a risk to their energy. At this time, after dismantling virtually all of Nicaragua’s civil society, political opposition and media, the one area for residents to precise their resistance are the church buildings, and particularly the Roman Catholic church,” stated pro-democracy activist Haydée Castillo.