Nicaragua police investigate bishop critical of government

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Nicaragua police said Friday they have launched an investigation against a Roman Catholic bishop who has been an outspoken critic of President Daniel Ortega’s government.

They accused Bishop Rolando Álvarez, leader of the Diocese of Matagalpa, of allegedly “organizing violent groups” and inciting “acts of hatred against the population”.

The police statement on Friday said the investigation would include a number of people and warned they should not be allowed to leave their homes while the investigation was underway.

Álvarez was at his home on Thursday when police closed off the area. Álvarez came out to pray in the street and approached them with an outstretched crucifix. Police blocked his attempt to go to the cathedral on Friday, so he celebrated Mass from home instead.

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Police announced that just hours after First Lady and Vice President Rosario Murillo criticized “sins against spirituality” and “displaying hatred” in a clear reference to Álvarez.

Previously, Wilfredo Navarro, a congressional leader of Ortega’s Sandinista National Liberation Front party, accused Álvarez of creating a media circus for the police to “incite again violence and disorder”.

Navarro accused Álvarez and others of leading what Ortega and his party consider to be a failed coup attempt in April 2018. Navarro said the churches were “caves of delinquents and murderers” and that Álvarez “is once again transforming the church into bases where they can use weapons.” and plans save violence.”

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He warned that Álvarez was not above the law.

Navarro and Murillo’s comments appeared to set the stage for the police announcement of an investigation late Friday.

In his sermon Friday, Álvarez said he and others confined to his home “have happiness in our hearts, inner strength and peace for our lives.” Neither church leaders in Nicaragua nor the Vatican have commented on the situation this week.

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This week, Ortega’s government shut down eight radio stations and a television station in Matagalpa province, north of Managua. Seven of the radio stations were run by the church.

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