Nicaraguan bishop fasts to protest police harassment

May 19, 2022, 10:17 PM | Updated: May 20, 2022, 10:22 am
FILE - Rolando Alvarez, Bishop of Matagalpa, attends a press conference regarding the Roman Catholi...

FILE - Rolando Alvarez, Bishop of Matagalpa, attends a press conference regarding the Roman Catholic Church's agreeing to act as "mediator and witness" in a national dialogue between members of civil society and the government in Managua, Nicaragua, May 3, 2018. Alvarez began an “indefinite fast” Friday, May 20, 2022 inside a church to protest increasing harassment from national police, who he said followed him throughout the entire previous day. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo, File)

(AP Photo/Moises Castillo, File)

MEXICO CITY (AP) — A Roman Catholic bishop in Nicaragua began an “indefinite fast” Friday inside a church to protest increasing harassment from national police, who he said followed him throughout the entire previous day.

Rolando Álvarez, the bishop of Matagalpa and a fierce critic of President Daniel Ortega’s government, said in a video published by his diocese that police had even breached his “circle of family privacy” while he visited a niece.

Ortega’s government arrested dozens of political opposition leaders, including most of the potential candidates, in the months before his re-election to a fourth consecutive term last year. His government has shut down dozens of nongovernmental organizations that he accuses of working on behalf of foreign interests to destabilize his government. Tens of thousands of Nicaraguans have been chased into exile.

The Catholic church remains influential, but has not escaped Ortega’s wrath. He has accused its priests of being “terrorists and coup plotters” and blamed them for participating in his “failed overthrow.”

Álvarez was one of the bishops who supported demonstrators in massive street protests that broke out in April 2018 and became a call for Ortega to step down. Since then, Álvarez’s sermons often criticize the government and demand the release of political prisoners.

At least 355 people died in the government’s repression of those protests, according to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

“Today I have been followed all day by the Sandinista police, since the morning through these hours of the night, at every moment, during all of my day’s movements,” Álvarez said in the video Thursday night.

Álvarez said he confronted his pursuers and was told they were just “following orders.” Rather than back down, the police followed him into the night “putting at risk the safety of my family.” That was when he decided to shelter in a church in the southeast of the capital Managua and begin his fast.

The bishop said he would fast until the police informed church leaders they would respect the privacy of his family. “The insecurity of this country is precisely the police, those who make us feel unsafe with that persecution,” he said.

The police had not responded publicly to Álvarez’s complaints. In recent months, the bishop has denounced harassment and threats from Sandinista activists against himself and his closest collaborators.

Álvarez received support Friday from Silvio Báez, the former auxiliary bishop of Managua who left Nicaragua in 2018 after receiving death threats.

Other priests reported similar harassment this week. In the northern city of Sebaco, Rev. Uriel Vallejos said he was photographed and besieged by police while going around the city.

Rev. Harving Padilla, the priest for a parish in Masaya, south of the capital, said police kept him under constant surveillance. Police arrested opposition leader Yubrank Suazo of the Civic Alliance Tuesday, after he denounced the harassment Padilla suffered. Suazo was previously jailed in 2018.

In early May, Nicaragua’s congress, which is dominated by Ortega’s party, said it was considering jailing priests who questioned the government. Cardenal Leopoldo Brenes, Managua archbishop, said at the time that the church was not the “enemy” of the government and that he would continue “praying for those who slander us.”

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - Mohammad Barkindo, Secretary-General of OPEC, is shown during a panel discussion at CERAWeek...
Associated Press

OPEC secretary-general is dead, Nigerian officials announce

ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) — The Secretary-General of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries has died, Nigerian authorities announced Wednesday. Mohammad Barkindo, 63, died late Tuesday, a spokesperson for Nigeria’s petroleum ministry told The Associated Press. The reason for his death was not immediately known. Mele Kyari, Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

The next frontier for drones: letting them fly out of sight

REMINGTON, Va. (AP) — For years, there’s been a cardinal rule for flying civilian drones: Keep them within your line of sight. Not just because it’s a good idea — it’s also the law. But some drones have recently gotten permission to soar out of their pilots’ sight. They can now inspect high-voltage power lines […]
1 day ago
Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo, left, and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi pos...
Associated Press

Marcos plays balancing act in meeting with China’s FM

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — New Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. will meet China’s top diplomat Wednesday to discuss long-simmering disputes in the South China Sea, as he wades into foreign policy dilemmas that include the U.S.-China rivalry in the region. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, wearing a native Filipino formal shirt, met his counterpart for […]
1 day ago
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stands in front of Ho Chi Minh mausoleum in Hanoi, Vietnam o...
Associated Press

Russian foreign minister stops in Vietnam ahead of G-20

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov visited Vietnam on Wednesday as part of an effort to bolster ties with a country that has not openly condemned its invasion of Ukraine. Lavrov, on his way to the Indonesian island of Bali for a G-20 meeting, sought to strengthen ties with Vietnam, which also […]
1 day ago
People wearing face masks walk past a bank's electronic board showing the Hong Kong share index in ...
Associated Press

Asian benchmarks mostly lower after tepid Wall St session

TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares were mostly lower Wednesday after tepid trading on Wall Street amid worries about a global recession. Major benchmarks fell across Asia. Oil prices recouped some lost ground. Analysts said markets were focusing on a variety of risks, including inflation, oil prices, moves by the U.S. Federal Reserve and other central […]
1 day ago
FILE - Police officers detain demonstrators in St. Petersburg, Russia, Feb. 24, 2022. When Presiden...
Associated Press

Some Russians won’t halt war protests, despite arrest fears

Ever since Russia invaded Ukraine, Anastasia has started her day by composing an anti-war message and posting it on the wall at the entrance of her apartment block in the industrial city of Perm in the Ural Mountains. “Do not believe the propaganda you see on the TV, read independent media!” reads one. “Violence and […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
...

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]
...

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]
...

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
Nicaraguan bishop fasts to protest police harassment