The National Police accused Nicaraguan Bishop Rolando José Álvarez Lagos this Friday of trying to “organize violent groups”, supposedly “with the purpose of destabilizing the State of Nicaragua and attacking the constitutional authorities”, and an investigation process has been initiated with the purpose of determining criminal liability.
Álvarez, bishop of the diocese of Matagalpa (north), has been confined since Thursday in the Episcopal Palace, which is besieged by special police forces, who will not let him out together with six priests and six lay people.
The institution stated in a press release that “the high authorities of the Catholic Church” in the department of Matagalpa, “taking advantage of their status as religious leaders, using the media and social networks, are trying to organize violent groups.”
According to the Police, the high hierarch would be “inciting” these “violent groups” to “carry out acts of hatred against the population, causing an atmosphere of anxiety and disorder, altering the peace and harmony in the community, with the purpose to destabilize the State of Nicaragua and attack the constitutional authorities
will remain secluded
The Police, led by Francisco Díaz, brother-in-law of the country’s president, Daniel Ortega, indicated that, “to guarantee peace and citizen security, it has established protection measures for the population, so that these events do not happen again.”
Likewise, it said that “it has initiated an investigation process, in order to determine the criminal responsibility of the persons involved in the commission of these criminal acts, of which the Public Ministry and the Judicial Power have been informed.”
“The people under investigation – which he did not mention – will remain in their homes,” he added.
The day before, Bishop Álvarez asked the Police to let him officiate Mass with his parishioners in a parish, amid friction between the Executive and the Catholic Church. Then the hierarch left the Episcopal Palace, knelt on the sidewalk and raised his hands to the sky, and received Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament from a collaborator and with the Blessed Sacrament he approached the officials, who withdrew from him, according to the transmission that made the diocese of Matagalpa in social networks.
The religious told the Police not to allow free movement, freedom of movement, freedom of expression and religious freedom, in addition to creating anxiety and shaking the “hearts and the simple faith of our faithful people.”
Prior to the Police statement, Nicaraguan Vice President Rosario Murillo said through official media, without mentioning the bishop, that “provoking, flaunting impunity is a crime, especially when what is provoked is discord, debauchery We’re not here for that.”
Murillo, who the day before affirmed that the sacred symbols of Catholicism had been “manipulated”, stressed that “generating discredit towards those institutions that deserve respect is also a crime”, and referred to hate crimes, which since 2021 are punishable with life imprisonment in Nicaragua.
“Let’s all remember that hate is a crime, that every crime is a crime, and a crime that must be investigated, and then also from the respective institutions take the pertinent measures,” noted Murillo, Ortega’s wife.
The bishop has introduced the police officers to Jesús Sacramentado, has tried to hug them and has dedicated religious songs to them and others such as the “Hymn of Joy” and “I just want a million friends” by the Brazilian Roberto Carlos. At today’s mass, behind closed doors, Álvarez prayed “also for those who have us detained.”
“We continue to ask the Lord to bless your lives, your marriages, your families, your jobs, that the Lord bless your food, your steps,” he remarked.
Relations between the Sandinistas and the Nicaraguan Catholic Church have been marked by friction and mistrust in the last 43 years.
President Ortega has branded as “terrorists” the Nicaraguan bishops who acted as mediators of a national dialogue that sought a peaceful solution to the crisis that the country has been experiencing since April 2018.
Nicaragua has been experiencing a political and social crisis since April 2018, which has been accentuated after the controversial elections last November in which Ortega was re-elected for a fifth term, fourth consecutive and second along with his wife, Rosario Murillo, as vice president, with their main contenders in prison.