“I will be in prayer, I will be doing an exorcism from here, I will be praying.” Monsignor Rolando Álvarez, bishop of Matagalpa, has been fasting from water and serum since last Friday as a measure of protest against the harassment and persecution suffered by Sandinismo. The clergyman, one of the strongest voices against the dictatorship still remaining in Nicaragua, decided to take refuge in the Santo Cristo de Esquipulas parish, which was immediately surrounded by revolutionary agents.

The government also decided to censor and take off the air the Catholic Channel, which broadcast the bishop’s protest and which belongs to the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua. “I have to say to all these police brothers who are surrounding and surrounding the temple of the Hills that I have nothing against them, I love those who have been chasing me all day and I recognize that you receive orders and carry them out”, stressed the bishop, who communicates with his parishioners through Facebook, during a homily last Friday.

Last Thursday Monsignor Álvarez suffered persecution for hours by the Sandinista Police, who even broke into the house of one of his nieces, where he was having dinner. “They came to my family home putting our security at risk. The insecurity in this country is due to the Police,” denounced the bishop, who is not the only priest persecuted by the regime. Father Harving Padilla, parish priest of San Juan Bautista de Masaya, informed the country that for a week it has been surrounded by paramilitaries and police.

“The Sandinista guard has not allowed the parishioners to enter the sacristy. They have stationed themselves around the perimeter of the church and have closed the streets,” Father Padilla warned Sunday, after trying to dialogue with the agents stationed outside his church, an impossible mission. “You who are police officers are committing a crime,” the priest confronted.

“We are experiencing difficult times as a nation and our duty as a Church is to announce the truth of the Gospel. We express our solidarity with our brother Monsignor Rolando Álvarez, who feels anxiety for his personal safety,” the Nicaraguan Episcopal Conference said in a statement today, after several days during which opponents and activists demanded a firm stance from both the Catholic leaders and Pope Francis.

Those who did react on Friday from their exile in the United States were Monsignor Silvio José Báez, auxiliary archbishop of Managua, and Father Edwing Román, who recalled how in 1983, during his stay at the seminary, he saw a young man fleeing from the Sandinista persecution: “He was the boy who coordinated the Catholic youth groups at the national level. That day I met who years later would be Monsignor Rolando Álvarez.”

The parents’ protest has sparked a wave of solidarity in the region. The Catholic leaders in Costa Rica and Panama have cried out to the heavens, knowing that the leader Daniel Ortega has pointed to the clergy as his great enemy after imprisoning the country’s main leaders and activists or after being forced into exile. “They are the Judas and they are the Caines, they are the ones who in the end celebrated the martyrdom of Christ. They are the ones who in the end gave the kiss of Judas,” Ortega sermonized during last Holy Week.

The savage repression of the Sandinista dictatorship after the social rebellion of 2018 has claimed more than 350 fatalities. Ortega keeps more than 170 political prisoners in his dungeons.

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