Nicaragua: The State Wants to Silence the Church

July 06, 2022
Archbishop Rolando Alvarez Lagos

President Daniel Ortega’s government has just ordered the closure of a Catholic television channel in the diocese of Matagalpa. This is the second time in a few weeks that the authorities have taken such a measure against the Church, who they accuse of plotting against the security of the State.

In Nicaragua, over the past forty-three years, relations between the Catholic Church and the Sandinista revolutionaries have never ceased being stormy. Since the political and social crisis triggered by the more than doubtful re-election at the top of the state of the former Sandinista Daniel Ortega, the Catholic Church has been regularly attacked by the power in place.

There have been countless Molotov cocktails thrown into churches, as well as priests being followed and watched by the political police. No more so than the verbal excesses of the presidential couple calling the bishops “terrorists,” and in the pay of “foreign powers.”

The tension escalated further on June 28, 2022: on that date, the Nicaraguan Institute of Posts and Telecommunications (Telcor) - a government agency in the hands of Daniel Ortega - ordered TV Merced, the Catholic channel run by the diocese of Matagalpa (in the north of the country), to stop broadcasting on its usual channel.

“We have been informed by the management of Telecable (subscription television) that, by order of Telcor, TV Merced has been eliminated from their programming schedule,” said the officials of the Catholic channel in a press release published immediately afterwards.

“During the last nine years of service since our founding on September 8, 2013, we have accompanied the pastoral mission of our Nicaraguan and universal diocesan church, bringing the message of the Lord, comfort and hope to the elderly, the sick, and, more broadly, to all the faithful,” the statement added.

Despite the censorship imposed, TV Merced specifies that it will continue “to accompany our people through our official Facebook account and our Youtube channel.”

The ordinary of Matagalpa, Bishop Rolando Alvarez Lagos, in a tweet, condemned this new attack from the top of the state: “Today we have been informed by Telecable that Telcor has eliminated us from its network. We entrust ourselves to Our Lady.”

On May 20, Telcor had already ordered the closure of another Catholic media Channel 51, owned by the Conference of Bishops of Nicaragua, a few days after Bishop Alvarez Lagos – who is also the head of communications for the episcopal conference – denounced the “police persecution” of which he considers himself to be a victim.

But the Bishop of Matagalpa remains serene and warns: “Daniel Ortega would like a silent Church, but even if the Church is silent, the stones will cry out.”