A new step has been taken in the persecution of the Church in Nicaragua: President Daniel Ortega has ordered the kidnapping and then putting under house arrest of the Bishop of Matagalpa, Msgr. Rolando José Alvarez Lagos.
The bishop of the diocese of Matagalpa was already under house arrest in his bishopric. But on Friday August 19, 2022, around three in the morning, the police entered the building. Riot forces broke down the doors of the bishop’s residence and arrested the bishop, before taking him to Managua, the capital.
Eight other people, lay people and priests, present in the bishop’s residence alongside Bishop Alvarez, were arrested and taken to Managua, where they are being held in a police barracks, for the purposes of the investigation, according to a press release from Nicaraguan police.
This press release specifies that the abduction of Bishop Alvarez was intended to “restore normality for the residents and families of Matagalpa.” It adds that the bishop would have pursued “destabilizing and provocative activities.”
Since August 4, Bishop Alvarez and a group of priests, seminarians, and lay people have been prevented from leaving the bishop’s residence and communicating with the outside world. The police insisted that they had “waited for several days, with great patience, prudence, and a sense of responsibility, for communication from the Matagalpa bishop’s residence, which never came.”
Also according to the press release, the Bishop of Matagalpa and the eight other people who remained with him inside the bishop’s residence “have been transferred, with respect and observance of their rights,” to Managua for judicial investigations. The bishop “remains under protection (sic) in this capital and was able to meet his relatives this morning,” the statement said.
In statements to ACI Prensa, Nicaraguan lawyer Martha Patricia Molina Montenegro, a member of the Pro-Transparency and Anti-Corruption Observatory, said that the Ortega dictatorship “is capable of anything” and “will always generate as much damage as possible.”
The jurist underlined the arbitrary nature of the national police’s incursion into the episcopal house of Matagalpa, pointing out that it violates the Constitution and the Code of Criminal Procedure, which establish limits on house arrest and the violation of a home. Normally, this can only be done between “six in the morning and six in the evening,” according to Mrs. Montenegro.
“The police behave like a criminal group that does not submit to the rule of law and, once again, this clearly shows that Nicaragua is a dictatorship where one proceeds according to the whim and the state of mind of President Daniel Ortega and his consort,” she said. Ortega's wife, Rosario Murillo, has served as vice president of Nicaragua since January 2017.
Over the past week, the regime has shut down all media, prompting an international backlash. Mrs. Montenegro expressed her skepticism about this reaction, noting that, despite this, the international community, “continues to finance [Ortega] by granting him loans worth millions, which are then used to repress [people] and not to invest in social works.”