By Nehomar Hernández
The bishop of the Nicaraguan town of Matagalpa, Rolando Álvarez Lagos, has paid dearly for the “audacity” of dissenting from Daniel Ortega’s regime.
Since his arrest on August 19 last year in the Episcopal Palace of Matagalpa – where he was confined without the possibility of officiating mass in his parish – the life of the religious has become a real calamity in the midst of the continuous humiliations to which the dictatorship has subjected him.
Álvarez was on the flight of more than 200 political prisoners that Ortega was untimely sent to the United States in February of this year.
However, unlike the rest of his companions, he refused to accept the expulsion from his country.
The regime then sent him back to Nicaragua, withdrew his nationality, and sentenced him in a speedy trial to 26 years in prison for “treason”.
However, this was only the beginning of the tragedy.
In the following days, the bishop of Matagalpa was transferred to the prison “La Modelo”, being confined specifically to a maximum security area of the same that has become known as “El Infiernillo” (the little hellhole).
As is to be expected, this area is generally destined to house highly dangerous criminals.
The Nicaraguan media Divergentes” also specifies that there are about 300 cells whose dimensions do not exceed three meters wide by three meters long in the area where the priest is held.
Inside the cells are only two cots and a hole through which the prisoners can relieve themselves.
Nicaraguan political prisoners claim that the country’s penitentiary system routinely uses these cells to punish detainees.
In the case of Álvarez, it is also known that he is under permanent surveillance 24 hours a day, with the right to see the sunlight for a few minutes and to receive some packages from his relatives. His jailers take pictures of him almost daily to prove he is still alive.
“The very fact of having him imprisoned is telling us a lot. He has been very faithful from the beginning when he said he would not leave his homeland.”
“I think he is obedient to his principles, not declining his position, and that is why they have been so angry with him and the Church itself,” Edwin Roman, an exiled Nicaraguan priest, told Voice of America about Bishop Alvarez’s imprisonment.
This comes in a context in which the Catholic Church seems to have become the favorite target of the attacks of the Ortega tyranny, which during the last year has focused its onslaught on the activity that, amid severe difficulties of all kinds, priests and nuns carry out in the Central American country.
Such an onslaught has been recently alerted by the US government administration, calling attention to the persecution suffered by Catholics in the Hispanic American nation.
“Throughout the year, President Daniel Ortega and Vice President Rosario Murillo ordered the detention, exile and verbal attacks against priests and bishops, calling them criminals and coup plotters”, emphasizes a US Government report that reviews the status of religious freedom in more than 200 countries around the world.
For now, Rolando Álvarez seems to have become the perfect demonstration effect that Ortega has used to send a message to his detractors: if you do not do what I say, face the consequences.
And if he has already done all this with a priest, what fate awaits the rest of his opponents?
With information from LGI
News Nicaragua, English news Nicaragua, Nicaraguan politics