After claiming that he was “persecuted” and “harassed” by the police on Thursday, a bishop in Nicaragua is going on an “indefinite” hunger strike until the authorities assure him, through the bishops’ conference, that both he and his family are safe.
“Today I have been persecuted all day long by the Sandinista police, from the morning until this hour of the night and at all times, in all my movements during the day,” said Bishop Rolando Álvarez of the diocese of Matagalpa and apostolic administrator of the diocese of Estelí.
The prelate said that when he tried to find out from the agents why they were pursuing him and asked them to communicate with Chief of Police Francisco Díaz, the officers entered the house where he was with his family.
“They entered my circle of family privacy, they came to my private home, that of my parents, putting at risk the safety of my family,” he said. As a response, he went to Managua, where he was welcomed in the parish of Santo Cristo de Esquipulas in Las Colinas.
Álvarez has been one of the strongest critics of the regime of President Daniel Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, who, last year, imprisoned dozens of political and social leaders after they voiced their opposition to the government or declared their intentions to run for the presidency. They joined hundreds of dissidents who were imprisoned in 2018, following a series of protests in the country.
“I begin a fast with water and serum (indefinitely) until the National Police, through the president or vice-president of the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua, let me know that they will respect my family circle and privacy,” the bishop said.
Álvarez invited the faithful of both dioceses to fast and pray before the Blessed Sacrament for their safety. The police told him that they were following him “for your own safety,” to which he said, on the live-streamed video, that “everyone knows that, in Nicaragua, those who make us feel unsafe with this persecution is you, brother police officers.”
The prelate exhorted the faithful to “adore the Blessed Sacrament, to pray, to sing, to praise the Lord and to fast for as long as you deem convenient. Also, to make vigils united to this servant. I will be in prayer and I will be doing exorcism from here.”
This Wednesday, Father Uriel Vallejos, parish priest of the Divina Misericordia church in Matagalpa, said that police officers besieged him when he was at the Apostolic Nunciature in Managua.
Similarly, Father Harving Padilla, of the San Juan Bautista Church in the department of Masaya, has been harassed by police and paramilitaries, who have threatened to arrest him and hold him responsible for the death of policeman Gabriel Vado Ruíz, who was killed at a roadblock in 2018 by paramilitaries.
Earlier this month, deputies of two commissions from the National Assembly discussed “the religious and the directors of human rights organizations who were involved in the coup adventure.”
Following these “discussions,” the government of Ortega expressed its intention to imprison priests for alleged “treason.” The regime leaders have in the past referred to the Catholic hierarchy as terrorists, coup organizers and spawns of the devil.