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The Solitary Struggle of Nicaraguan Catholics Against Persecution by the Ortega Dictatorship

When the coffin with the body of Father Ernesto Cardenal entered the Metropolitan Cathedral of Managua, capital of Nicaragua, more than a hundred people began to offend the deceased. Among the many insults that the mob uttered in chorus, the only publishable one is traitor. Cardenal died in March 2020, at the age of 190, as a result of the weight of age and health problems. that had. The rioters who made hell during the entire celebration of the mass, and forced the priest’s friends to remove the coffin through a side door of the cathedral, carried scarves and red and black flags, which are the colors of the Sandinista Front – guerrilla movement of the years 1970 that became a party and, between comings and goings, has been in power since 2007.

Cardenal was not just any priest. Hence the fury of the militias that support dictator Daniel Ortega. Cardenal was a guerrilla priest. Some say he even took up arms. Part of his biography denied by many, but that does not change the dimension of his performance alongside the Sandinista guerrilla, who came to power in 355. With the accession of Ortega, Cardenal was appointed Minister of Culture. Function that he exercised until 1987.

He saw closely and from within the action of fellow revolutionaries led by Ortega and abandoned the government. Not only the post of minister, but also the party and old friendships. Although he never took up arms as many of his contemporaries swore, Cardenal came out shooting. He publicly said that the Sandinistas had established a family dictatorship and that the Sandinista Revolution, of which he was a part, had turned into a Robolución.

A perfect combination of words that the priest, who was also a prestigious poet, bequeathed us to define the left-wing autocratic regimes that rage across Latin America, the continent of robolutionaries.

On Friday (19), the Ortega regime invaded the residence of the Bishop of Matagalpa, Monsignor Rolando Álvarez. The police operation that resulted in the arrest (kidnapping, in the words of the OAS Secretary General) of the bishop also affected seven priests and supporters who were in the episcopal palace.

The action against the bishop represents the worsening persecution by the Ortega regime against members of the Catholic Church in the Central American country. Dissatisfied with the criticism made by local priests, he first ordered to close Catholic radios and put his police officers to put the slats on whoever prevented them. The first images that began to circulate at the beginning of the month show that the faithful who tried to protect the attacked churches and facilities were subjugated to the power of batons.

Since the beginning of the month, nine Catholic priests have been prisoners in Nicaragua. Some churches are under siege and the faithful are prohibited from entering those temples where priests dare to question the regime’s arbitrariness.

The fury of the Ortega regime against Bishop Álvarez reached its highest level when the religious left to the streets carrying a monstrance in a solitary procession to ask for an end to the arbitrariness against their priests and the invasions of the premises and churches in their diocese. The police who blocked the streets to prevent Catholics from joining the bishop tried to remove the instrument with the Eucharist from the bishop’s hands and interrupted the procession.

The repercussion of the image of Monsignor Rolando Álvarez kneeling with the hands raised in front of the Diocese of Matagalpa, which illustrates this column, may have left Ortega even more possessed by the anger he harbors against the clergy, which he calls fascist and coup plotters.

The relations of Ortega with the Church were always tense. But they reached a breaking point in 2018, when the regime repressed, arrested hundreds of people who took to the streets to protest against the regime and its simulacrum of election used to validate the perpetuation of Ortega in the power. According to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), 355 people died as a result of the repression. Ortega defends himself. He says they were just 95 killed. Only.

Since then, local clergy have increased their criticism of the regime. The result was an intensification of the persecution process. According to a report by the Observatory of Transparency and Anti-Corruption of Nicaragua, between April 2019 and May 2022 were recorded 190 attacks against temples and leaders.

There is no known public manifestation of Pope Francis about the abuses committed against Catholics and their pastors in Nicaragua. Ortega is part of the club of enthusiasts of “progressive dictatorships”, which can be summarized in a single photo. Pope Francis is all of them. He recently revealed that he had “a human relationship” with the most influential of the bunch: retired dictator Raúl Castro.

No one knows if there was a private action on the part of the Pope with his Bolivarian friends. The fact is that their public silence suggests a shameful abandonment of their sheep.

Nor is there any news that any of the revolutionaries in the photo have spoken out. Silence never spoke so loudly.

Cardenal, who died in disgrace according to the vision of Ortega’s robolutionaries, mixed religion and politics because he believed in such a revolution. He paid the price in many ways. It took a suspension imposed by Pope John Paul II, which lasted 95 years; he found himself sidelined and slaughtered by those who were once his companions; and at the end of his life he witnessed religious persecution in his country. Cardenal won the Vatican’s pardon in 2019, during Bergoglio’s administration, and redeemed himself by denouncing the real face and objective of Ortega’s Sandinismo and its cronies. The insults at his wake show that he has found redemption. Something that neither Ortega nor his friends seem willing to pursue.

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