Persecution in Nicaragua, about which Colombia remained silent at the OAS

Anarchy and unrest reign in Nicaragua. And the whole world has spoken. Recently, there was an outcry from UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who assured that “He is deeply concerned about the severe closure of civil and democratic space in Nicaragua and the recent actions against civil society organizations, including the Catholic Church.”

The situation became dire and like all opponents of the regime he had to flee the country, now the persecution against the church is fierce. Since 2007, Ortega, a former guerrilla in power since 2007, has imprisoned dozens of opponents and shut down media, educational organizations and civil society. The Catholic Church, which has had a strained relationship with the government for four years, is the latest rediscovery of the rebellion that is questioning the government’s actions.

On August 12, the OAS called on its member states to send a strong message against this government. At the end The Organization of American States (OAS) condemned Nicaragua for “persecution” of the Catholic Church, “forced closure” of NGOs and “oppression” of the press, and insisted that the government of Daniel Ortega release the political prisoners. .

In a special session of the Permanent Council, the executive body of the organization, the resolution on the status of Nicaragua was adopted by 34 active members with 27 votes in favor, one against (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines) and four abstentions (Bolivia, El Salvador, Honduras and Mexico). The only absentee was Colombia.

A report by Noticias Caracol confirmed that, contrary to what the Colombian ambassador to the OAS, Luis Ernesto Vargas, said the absence was approved by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, lvaro Leva himself. Deputy Minister of Multilateral Affairs Juan José Quintana confirmed that it was the Minister of Foreign Affairs who had been ordered not to participate, although he did not explain the reasons behind the decision .

For this reason, it did not take long for the responses from the various sectors and He called what happened a few weeks ago “shameful”.

Nicaraguan journalist Vilfredo Miranda Eberto recounts, from her exile in Semana, how brutal religious persecution is perpetrated by Sandinista police, who kidnap and detain bishops and priests. This is your report.

against god

Priest Sebastian López got up early on Tuesday August 16, had a light breakfast, put on his cassock with green chasbal and headed for the entrance to the parish of Santa Lucia in Ciudad Darío, to begin Mass in the morning. When he opened the doors, policemen from the Special Troops, in their black uniforms, above impenetrable balaclavas, were already there.

They had come to tell him that neither he could go, nor his parishioners could enter the temple… The mass was confiscated. The regimes of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo impose a veritable police kidnapping on the priest.

Parisians who arrived in Santa Lucia at the time of the massacre found a riot fence, small but similar to that erected by Bishop Rolando Ivarez, who was kidnapped and captured for 15 days in the city of Matagalpa. By a military convoy on Friday. These are not isolated cases.

For almost a month, the Ortega-Murillo dictatorship has been launching a systematic attack on Catholicism, especially on bishops and clergy who have criticized the human rights violations that have plagued the country since 2018, when the social protest against the Sandinista administration was fueled. by the police and paramilitary forces, and which led to the massacre of more than 350 people.

In Ciudad Dario, priests and parishioners immediately understood that the repression has reached. The police were unable to disperse the parishioners who had gathered in the courtyard of the church. On the other side were the priests, who did not renounce their functions despite the threats. Mass abductions began and more settlers arrived.

The repression of Daniel Ortega’s regime has reached an unimaginable point, the Catholic Church, which is experiencing a real ordeal in the country. , Photo: Associated Press

This faith moves mountains, a temple-going believer told me anonymously; Faith as a “mustard seed” to continue this dictatorship and stop persecuting our priests. He was shaken, especially when the “Body of Christ” was given by Father Lopez.

“Lord, you looked into my eyes, you said my name with a smile. On the sand I left my boat. With you I will seek another sea,” the priest sang from behind the net. body of Christ,” said the father. “Amen,” replied the parishioner, looking over his shoulder at the police brigade with guns in their belts. The Eucharist was celebrated under persecution, not as it was. is today, at least in the Western Hemisphere; the Catholic Church in Nicaragua is one of the most persecuted and Pope Francis is, for now, silent about the Vatican.

Between harassment and imprisonment against protesters, journalists, civil society organizations, feminists, environmentalists, political parties, businessmen, musicians, human rights defenders, farmers, indigenous peoples, writers and any citizen with a critical voice, The Catholic Church is one of the last institutions of character and great influence to openly oppose the regime, which is now fighting back.

Sunday August 14, in Siuna, one of the towns of the Nicaraguan mining triangle, the priest Oscar Benavidez was arrested. Although the reason for the arrest is not officially known, sources within the Church of Siuna assured that in his final resting places he said “he was not going to remain silent in the face of the situation in Nicaragua, especially the Catholic Church”.

With Benavidez’s arrest, there are already three priests behind bars. Added to this is the expulsion of Nuncio Valdemar Stanisaw Sommertag last March, the forced exile of Bishop Silvio Baez and two other priests; A congregation of nuns expelled from the country, a Jesuit whose passport was not renewed, deportation imposed, and an open investigation and kidnapping against Monsignor Rolando Ivarez in Matagalpa.

“For a long time we have condemned that the dictatorship is facing a frontal process of destroying everything that could mean a threat to its power, to its imposition in power. Today, after almost everything has been abolished, the only place to express this resistance is the Church, and Catholics in particular,” says activist Hedi Castillo.

Human rights defenders have already called what happened in Nicaragua “religious persecution”. A study entitled Nicaragua: A Persecuted Church? (2018-2022) report that since 2018, Catholicism has faced 190 attacks, such as crowds entering the church in Managua, death threats against priests, and the desecration of various temples. Physical attacks have been recorded, such as that suffered by Father Mario Guevara, the pastor of the Metropolitan Cathedral, who was sprayed with sulfuric acid by a woman of Russian origin and close to the government.

In 2020, a Molotov cocktail was thrown at Managua Cathedral and a revered image of the Blood of Christ was burned. “The main Catholic leaders took the lead with many leaders in the fight for the defense of independence. This also relates to Ortega and Murillo’s view that they are omnipotent. They want to practically establish themselves as Jesus and Mary were, and sell the Nicaraguan people on the idea that they are the chosen ones.

Before the kidnapping of Bishop Ivarez, the regime closed 12 stations in the diocese of Matagalpa, arguing that “the operating licenses were not valid”. In June 2022, the Catholic Church TV channel TV Merced in Matagalpa Department and San Jose in Estelle Department was removed from the cable company’s programming schedule. While in May, channel 51, owned by the Catholic Church, was removed from the programming schedule.

Much of this media was run by Monsignor Ivarez, who is the spokesman for the Catholic Church. Alvarez is a popular bishop in Matagalpa. Before the 2018 protests, he led a social and peasant movement that forced the Sandinista government to cancel a mining concession to an international. Alvarez is very close to his parishioners.

He is a religious man who dances, rides a bike, cooks, sings and spreads a humanist gospel that condemns repression in Nicaragua. With his exorcism prayers, he teases the presidential couple to the point that they kidnap him and the police do not allow food and medicine into the curia. Monsignor Alvarez is held captive along with ten other priests and ordinary people.

“We are alive and God gives us strength,” one of the priests kidnapped in Matgalpa told me. “They won’t let us eat… but we are all well, united in prayer,” the priest said on condition of anonymity.

The Viacrusis (under the orders of dictator Daniel Ortega) experienced by the Catholic Church in Nicaragua, while Pope Francis remains silent. , Photo: Week

Monsignor Ivarez was besieged more than 13 days ago. They tried to leave Kuria for a mass celebration, but the authorities wouldn’t let them go. He tried to overtake riot police with the blessed sacrament in his hands and was forcibly restrained. Vice President Rosario Murillo reacted angrily and accused Alvarez of “showing off” and committing a “crime against spirituality”.

The Vatican only said it was “concerned” about the persecution of its own people in Nicaragua. A statement made on August 12 by the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the Organization of American States (OAS), Monsignor Juan Antonio Cruz, when 27 countries voted for a resolution condemning religious persecution.

Oscar René Vargas, the political analyst in exile, thinks the Vatican’s position is too serious. Vargas says, “While the Vatican calls for ‘dialogue and understanding’ with the dictatorship, it ignores the fact that Ortega-Murillo’s strategy to stay in power remains ‘power or death’.”

In the Church of Santa Lucia, in Ciudad Dario, the priest Sebastian López finished the mass outdoors; He entered the priesthood and removed the green chalice used by the priest in “ordinary times,” a color associated with the pulpits of hope and life, two issues that consumed the hell of the Ortega-Murillo crackdown in Nicaragua. . Eh.

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