More than 150 political leaders in Nicaragua have been kept in prison at the direct order of Daniel Ortega, including the noted Bishop Rolando Álvarez, who was sentenced to 26 years in prison and who has, according to reports, been stripped of his nationality. In early October, three more priests were irregularly detained, in what some Human Rights activists in Nicaragua have deemed a Kristallnachtof sorts. Now, after allegedly reaching an agreement with the Vatican, Ortega’s regime has released 12 Catholic priests, deporting them to Rome.
AP reports that Ortega’s government said that the priests were flown to Rome Wednesday afternoon “following productive talks with the Vatican.” However, AP notes that Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes, the church’s top figure in Nicaragua, “did not immediately respond to a request for comment.”
The Vatican did confirm, on October 19th, that the Holy See “had been asked to receive the 12 priests who had been recently released,” who would then be housed in different properties belonging to the diocese of Rome.
The release of these 12 priests comes nearly two weeks after the auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Managua, Silvio José Báez, demanded the prompt release of his brother bishop, Rolando José Álvarez, the bishop of the Diocese of Matagalpa.
Local Nicaraguan newspapers then noted that, asking God for Álvarez’s prompt release as he was about to celebrate Mass in St. Agatha’s Parish (Miami, USA) on Sunday, October 1st, Auxiliary Bishop Báez said:
“As every Sunday, I remember my brother bishop, Monsignor Rolando Alvarez, unjustly imprisoned by the Sandinista dictatorship of Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua, so that the Lord may soon grant him unconditional freedom, being as he is a just man and model pastor for the Church.”
Bishop Álvarez’s case
Bishop Alvarez was irregularly detained in August 2022 and later sentenced to 26 years in prison, charged with “crimes of conspiracy to undermine national integrity and propagation of false news through information and communication technologies to the detriment of the Nicaraguan state and society.”
After refusing to be exiled along with 222 other political prisoners who were sent to the United States, he was stripped of his citizenship and sent to prison.
As La Prensa de Nicaragua notes, the bishop is “currently incarcerated in the Jorge Navarro Penitentiary System. Since then, he has only been seen once in public, when the propaganda media of the Sandinista regime published a series of photographs and a video in which the bishop received a visit from two of his brothers.”