A Nicaraguan bishop critical of the government of President Daniel Ortega celebrated a mass on Friday August 5 broadcast on social networks live from his bishopric of Matagalpa, 130 km northeast of the capital Managua, where he has been besieged since Thursday by the police.
Archbishop Rolando Alvarez had called on Thursday for respect for the “freedomreligious after the closure by the authorities of Catholic radio stations and denounced a “harassment” policeman. Members of the riot police still blocked Friday, for the second day in a row, the street where the bishopric is located, preventing Bishop Alvarez from reaching his cathedral, four streets away.
One of the priests who are entrenched with the prelate told AFP on Friday that the situation was “the same» than the day before. “We support the religious who, like Rolando Alvarez, resist with dignity, coherence and courage the persecutions of the government of Ortega“, declared on Twitter the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (Cenidh). Bishop Alvarez, 55, tweeted Thursday that he was prevented by police from going to his cathedral to celebrate Mass there as part of a “prayer crusadeat the call of the Nicaraguan Church. The European Union on Thursday condemned the closure “arbitrary” this week of seven Nicaraguan Catholic radio stations as well as the use “unprecedentedof violence since 2018 to intimidate government opponents. Bishop Alvarez called “the police brothers to continue to do their job which is in reality to guarantee the well-being of the population (…) and not to (lend themselves) to this harassment“.
Relations between the Catholic Church and the government of Daniel Ortega have been strained since 2018 when protesters demanding the resignation of the Nicaraguan president took refuge in churches. President Ortega has accused the Catholic Church of being complicit in a coup attempt hatched by Washington. The crisis came to a head with the expulsion in March of the Apostolic Nuncio (Vatican Ambassador) Bishop Waldemar Sommertag.