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Several civil organizations in Nicaragua on Wednesday asked Pope Francis to denounce the “grave persecution” suffered by Nicaraguan priests by the regime of Daniel Ortega.
“We pray for the good offices and the voice of denunciation and condemnation of his holiness Pope Francis as pastor of his Church, in the face of the grave persecution that Nicaragua is experiencing today,” advocated 17 Nicaraguan organizations in a public statement.
In the document, the signatory organizations made “an urgent call about the situation in our country due to the excesses of the dictatorship and the repressive escalation that has been directed in recent weeks against the Catholic Church and towards journalists and independent media.”
They indicated that since April 2018, when a popular revolt erupted over controversial social security reforms, “a regime of violence and terror has been implemented” in Nicaragua, “which aims to stifle citizen protests and silence the voices against the dictatorship of the Ortega and Murillo.”
“Faced with a criminal state, faced with a dictatorship that has shown itself capable of any atrocity against the citizenry to stay in power, this time, the Catholic Church, its priests, religious men and women are persecuted for being reliable and credible for the people,” they pointed out.
They mentioned that in recent weeks “the illegitimate regime ordered, through the Nicaraguan Institute of Telecommunications and Post (Telcor), the arbitrary closure of eight Catholic radio stations and a television channel”, administered by the Diocese of Matagalpa (north).
Earlier they had also ordered the withdrawal of the television frequencies of three Catholic channels, they added.
“Rolando Álvarez, bishop of Matagalpa and Estelí, together with five priests, two seminarians, a chorister, and two cameramen, are under house imprisonment, and are denied access to food and medicine” since last August 4, they noted.
The organizations expressed their solidarity with the Nicaraguan Catholic Church, with Bishop Alvarez, and with the priests who accompany him in the episcopal curia of Matagalpa.
Likewise, in the declaration they called on “the democracies of the world and, especially those of Central America, to work hand in hand with the Nicaraguan democratic political opposition and civil society, in order to find peaceful ways to restore democracy in Nicaragua.”
Signing the declaration was the Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy, which was the Government’s counterpart at a negotiating table seeking a peaceful solution to the crisis that Nicaragua has been experiencing since April 2018.
The National Unity, Alliance of Nicaraguan Youth and Students, Initiative for Change, Democratic Force of Nicaragua, and Self-Convened Nicaraguan Union, among others, also validated the document.