11th July 2024

Nicaragua vs the Catholic Church

In the thumbnail, the man on the left? That’s Nicaragua’s dictator, Daniel Ortega. On the right? Bishop Rolando Alvarez, One of hundreds persecuted by the government, though his case is especially notable, as I’ll discuss in a bit. The headline “In Nicaragua, Catholicism is being extinguished comes from the Washington Post – a piece last year by John I. Jenkins.  This is an ongoing story happening now, so stay tuned for the very latest. But let’s also step back and get some much needed context to see how things got this bad.

Those who were there at the time, and students of history may recall these famous two sentences, spoken by the American president in March 4, 1987:

Reagan: “a few months ago I told the American people I did not trade arms for hostages. My heart and my best intention still tell me that's true, but the facts and the evidence tell me it is not.”[1]

This was the Iran-Contra scandal. Weapons being sold to Iran, which was under an arms embargo, and in return the money was intended to be used to fund the Contras in Nicaragua.

What had been happening in Nicaragua? For 43 years from 1936 to 1979 the Somoza family ruled the country. The most recent, Anastasio Somoza Debayle, was elected president in 1967, and ruled Nicaragua as a dictator. He had been US-educated and graduated from West Point Military Academy.

Opposition to the Somoza right-wing dictatorship produced the Nicaraguan revolution, and the major player against the Somoza government was the Sandinista National Liberation Front. The Sandinistas were socialist in their ideology, and so the revolution became a natural proxy case for the cold war.

Religion sometimes played a part in politics. One such case is that of Ernesto Cardenal, born in 1925. Cardenal was a revolutionary himself, and participated in a 1954 revolution and attempted coup d’etat against the Somozas in Nicaragua. Cardenal became a priest in 1965, and between 1975 and 1977 he wrote the four-volume set of books “The Gospel in Solentiname,” which were a commentary on the gospels from the perspective of Liberation Theology. The books were banned by the Somoza dictatorship. Cardenal said “Christ led me to Marx… For me, the four Gospels are all equally Communist. I’m a Marxist who believes in God, follows Christ, and is a revolutionary for the sake of his kingdom.”[2] Cardenal wasn’t alone, as liberation theology caught fire among many Latin-American Catholics. However, the majority of the clergy refused to get politically involved.

Ultimately, in 1979, the Sandinistas forced Somoza out of power and took over control of Nicaragua. Initially, the government was a Junta of five members – the leader of whom was the revolutionary Daniel Ortega. Ortega had robbed banks to fund the revolution and had been tortured in jail for many years until his release in 1974.[3]

As part of the cold war proxy situation, the United States supported counter-revolutionaries attempting to topple the Sandinista government, known as the Contras. In 1982, a law was passed in the US, banning support for Contra attempts to overthrow the government, and in 1984 an even more specific provision was passed, stating "During fiscal year 1985, no funds available to the Central Intelligence Agency, the Department of Defense, or any other agency or entity of the United States involved in intelligence activities may be obligated or expended for the purpose or which would have the effect of supporting, directly or indirectly, military or paramilitary operations in Nicaragua by any nation, group, organization, movement or individual."

The undercover attempt at using arms sales to Iran to fund the Contras in Nicaragua led to the Iran-Contra affair.

Meanwhile, Father Cardenal was named Minister of Culture by the Sandinista government, and his brother, also a priest, became Minister of Education.

In 1983 Pope John Paul II visited Nicaragua, and rebuked Cardenal on live television on the tarmac after landing[4], rebuking him for serving in the government, and when Cardenal refused an order to resign, in February 1984 he was suspended from the priesthood.

That November, Ortega won the presidency with over two-thirds of the vote. It was a victory for the revolutionaries: now the people had endorsed them to hold political power. It was actually surprising to nearly everyone then that in the next election in 1990 the Sandinistas and Ortega were defeated and peacefully left power.

For the next decade and a half Ortega had time to think about what had gone wrong. Why, after destroying the oppressive dictatorship had the Sandinistas been rejected? In 1994, one Sandinista gave his answer: Ernesto Cardenal left the party, saying that Ortega had kidnapped it and was trying to monopolize power to himself. He had played a part, while a Catholic Priest, in bringing the Sandinistas to power, but now he doubted that they held true to their original convictions.

Ortega sought to regain control. He ran for the presidency in 1996, but received a lower percentage than his loss in 1990. In 2001 he lost a third election in a row, though the numbers improved slightly.

But Ortega wasn’t done. In 2006, he ran for the presidency again, and this time he campaigned under the banners of love and peace.[5] He also ran on being a Christian. He had married in 1979 in a secret ceremony, but in 2005 he converted to Catholicism and was married by a priest to have his marriage recognized by the Catholic Church. Knowing that his election depended on high Catholic support, Ortega supported a national total abortion ban.

That November, Nicaraguans selected him to be their ruler for a second time.[6] In a 4-way race, Ortega won with a lower percentage of the vote than he had lost by when he was defeated in 1990. In his first term in office after a 15-year break, Ortega began to consolidate power. He had lost an election before, but now it looked like he wouldn’t let it happen again. In 2008, Cardenal spoke out. Merco Press reported his viewpoint: “The Nicaraguan administration of President Daniel Ortega “is not left-leaning or Sandinista or revolutionary, it's simply a family dictatorship””[7]

In 2009, British Newspaper the Observer ran the headline “Second Coming of the Sandinistas turns sour,” with the byline “Two years ago Daniel Ortega swept back to power amid heady hopes for a return of the idealism which powered Nicaragua's revolution in the 1980s. But the president's authoritarianism and accusations of election rigging have led to fears that he is becoming just another Latin-American dictator”[8]

Key points raised in support of this claim would be that the constitution banned consecutive terms in office, but the Supreme Court of Nicaragua, loaded with Sandinistas, removed the stipulation, allowing Ortega to run again in the 2011 election.[9] And this time he won the election without it being close.[10]
Yes, there were some burned ballots and other irregularities, but Ortega was popular in Nicaragua at the time.[11] Cardenal continued to speak out against Ortega, saying he betrayed the revolution.[12]

For the next election in 2016, Ortega had to pull some more strings. Univision’s headline when he inevitably won was “How Nicaragua's Daniel Ortega gradually eliminated the opposition and consolidated his dynasty”[13] This time his wife was his running mate, and the Supreme Court, widely viewed as a rubber stamp for Ortega, prevented the top opposition candidates from running.[14] Nicaragua was becoming synonymous with Ortega.[15]

Despite the continued complaints from his old friend, Ernesto Cardenal,[16] Ortega had been on overall good terms with the Catholics in Nicaragua. Catholics had long been the majority in the country. Back in 1963, they were 96% of the population. However, Nicaragua has been becoming less catholic faster than anywhere else in Latin America. From the high in 1963, Catholics fell to 75.9% in the year 2000, while Protestants rose from 3.8% to 18.8%.[17] The 2005 Census, back at the time Ortega became Catholic – showed Catholics were down to just 59% and 22% were Protestant.[18]

In 2014, the Pew Research center provided statistics on people switching their religious beliefs.[19] In Mexico, 12% of adults are converts – they no longer belong to the same religious group they did as a child. But topping the list at 32% is a two way tie between US Hispanics and those in Nicaragua. 32% have left their childhood faith. And it’s pretty much all people leaving the Catholic Church. Pew Research said “In Nicaragua, for example, roughly one-in-four (26%) respondents are former Catholics. Hardly any Nicaraguans reported converting into Catholicism, leading to a net loss of 25 percentage points for Catholics in the country.”

A 2019 survey showed the numbers were now nearly even – 43% Catholic and 41% Protestant.

2018 would mark the beginning of a massive shift in the relationship between Ortega’s Government and the Catholic Church. It all began when on April 16 the Ortega Government passed pension reforms that were widely unpopular.[20] Massive protests began two days later and became deadly,[21] and within a week, Ortega reversed the plans.[22] But the damage had been done, and the New York Times reported near the end of the month that “Deadly protests set off by unpopular changes to social security in Nicaragua show no signs of abating, even after the president gave in to demands.[23] And “Faced with a presidential couple that controls virtually every branch of government and the news media, young people across the nation are carrying out their own version of an Arab Spring.” The protests were now anti-dictatorship protests.

On April 24, the Catholic Church agreed to mediate the situation with a National Dialogue, and on May 16, he day the talks began, the AP ran the headline “In Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega bends to Catholic Church.”[24] The article said in part, “The protests, which have continued on a smaller scale, have forced Ortega into a corner and he has asked for the church to mediate. Talks began Wednesday after the president agreed, at least initially, to meet the church’s conditions, one of which is to “review Nicaragua’s political system from its roots to achieve an authentic democracy.””[25] The bishops were to act as mediators in the conflict.[26] On May 23 the bishops ended the attempted mediation citing a lack of consensus among the two parties.[27]

On May 30, Mother’s day Ortega’s armed forces opened fire on protestors, killing 11 and wounding 79.[28] On June 7, Bishops again met with Ortega to assess whether the dialogue could resume.[29] Dialogue started and stopped over the next month.

And in the end, let’s just say it didn’t work out.

On July 10, bishops and other clergy were attacked at their church by pro-government armed groups.[30]

As students protested against the Ortega government, on July 13 they found refuge in a Catholic Church[31] – the Church of the Divine Mercy – that they had been using as a field hospital. Pro-Ortega paramilitaries and police pinned them there and sieged the church in 15 hours of gunfire. 200 students were trapped inside. Many were shot and two were killed.[32] A week later, Ortega gave his opinion of the Church’s role in the national dialogue, accusing the bishops of being on the side of a coup against his government. He said in a public rally “I thought that they were mediators, but no, they had already made commitments with the Coup supporters. They were in with the Coup plotters,”[33] Ortega also said “It hurts me greatly to say this, because I have high regard for the bishops. I respect them, I’m a Catholic.”[34]

So at this point, there were some open verbal hostilities between Ortega and Catholic Church leaders, but things were nowhere near as dark as they were about to become after the next election in 2021. In the meanwhile, in July 2018, the Trump White House condemned human rights abuses by the Ortega Government.[35] Joshua Partlow, writing in the Washington Post, penned the headline “From rebel to strongman: How Daniel Ortega became the thing he fought against.”[36]

Also in the midst of things, on February 18, 2019, it was announced that Pope Francis had lifted the suspension of Ernesto Cardenal. Once again Father Cardenal, he was now 94 years old.[37] Just over a year later in March of 2020 Cardenal died.

Violence continued leading up to the election of 2021. Hunger strikers in a Catholic Cathedral were attacked in November 2019,[38] and in July 2020, a Molotov Cocktail was thrown into the Chapel of the Blood of Christ of the Metropolitan Cathedral, damaging a 382-year old image of Christ on the Cross.

The November 2021 election was viewed widely as a sham. The first half of a short statement on the day of the election by US President Joe Biden said “What Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, orchestrated today was a pantomime election that was neither free nor fair, and most certainly not democratic.  The arbitrary imprisonment of nearly 40 opposition figures since May, including seven potential presidential candidates, and the blocking of political parties from participation rigged the outcome well before election day.  They shuttered independent media, locked up journalists and members of the private sector, and bullied civil society organizations into closing their doors.  Long unpopular and now without a democratic mandate, the Ortega and Murillo family now rule Nicaragua as autocrats, no different from the Somoza family that Ortega and the Sandinistas fought four decades ago.”[39]

With another five years secured. It didn’t take long for Daniel Ortega to begin his work to silence the Catholic opposition. In early March 2022, the Vatican representative to Nicaragua was expelled from the country.[40]

Then in May, Bishop Rolando Alvarez[41], who was also in charge of Communications for the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua said “Here not only religious, priests, but also the immense majority of Nicaraguans live in a permanent harassment”[42] and began a fast in protest of police forces, apparently on higher orders, monitoring and following him around. When he explained his reasons for the fast during a mass broadcast on television, the following day the state-owned Nicaraguan telecommunications agency, known as Telcor, removed the channel from its programming – taking the Nicaraguan Bishops Conference channel off the air nationwide.[43]

In June of 2022, the Nicaraguan Ministry of the Interior ordered 101 nongovernmental organizations to shut down – many of them being Catholic organizations. One of these was Missionaries of Charity, established by Mother Teresa in the 1980s.[44] Soon after in July, eighteen nuns part of the group were expelled from the country.[45] An attorney representing the charity said “the dictatorship… is characterized by granting citizenship to foreigners accused in their own countries of being criminals and expelling honorable people who are also Nicaraguan nationals… the dictatorship has a frontal war against the Catholic Church of Nicaragua and its objective is to completely eliminate all those institutions related to the Church.”[46]

But this was just the beginning. On August 1st the radio station of Infant Jesus of Prague chapel broadcast live as police came and took the station over, shutting it down. Officers fired shots in the air, and used tear gas to ward off people who tried to defend the station.[47] The same night, six other Catholic stations under the direction of Bishop Alvarez were shut down.  He said “Practically, TELCOR has canceled all the radio stations in our diocese.” A multi-day standoff happened at Divine Mercy Parish, where Father Uriel Vallejos and five parishioners remained in the building, which was surrounded by police forces as part of the takedown of their station.[48]

Even then, Alvarez was too powerful a force. The World Politics Review said in the article “The ‘Church of Ortega’ Is Now the Only One Permitted in Nicaragua”[49] what happened to him: “On Aug. 4, he was led out of Matagalpa’s Episcopal rectory at gunpoint and forced on his knees—not to genuflect, but to beg for his life.”[50] Alvarez was prevented from going to the Cathedral to lead in the mass. He was not allowed by the police to leave his home[51] [52] until the 17th, when the police entered his home and arrested him.[53] In the meantime, five more Catholic radio and television stations were closed in August, taking the total to twelve Catholic ones and 17 in total.[54]

It seemed that Ortega was doing all that he could to earn the title of dictator, but Ortega preferred to pin that honorific on someone else. In September he said of the Catholic Church, “everything is imposed. It’s a perfect dictatorship. It’s a perfect tyranny.”[55] Later that year he followed that up by saying that he never had respect for the Catholic Bishops – contradicting his early claims in 2018.[56]

At the end of 2023, Bishop Alvarez was still in prison. In February, Ortega released over 200 political prisoners, expelling them to the United States and stripping them of Nicaraguan Citizeniship. Alvarez could have been one, but he refused the expulsion.[57] All those expelled were given this blanket judgment from the Managua Court of Appeals: “those sentenced who, for different crimes, violated the legal and constitutional order, attacking the State of Nicaragua and Nicaraguan society, harming the supreme interest of the nation.”[58]

Catholic Website The Pillar reported “While local media have reported that Álvarez has repeatedly refused to go into exile and chosen to remain in prison, sources with direct knowledge say the bishop is willing to leave Nicaragua, but was not given a clear opportunity to leave when other political prisoners were exiled in February…. while other political prisoners signed in February clearly defined documents accepting their exile, Álvarez was asked by Nicaraguan authorities to sign a blank sheet of paper, according to several sources with direct knowledge of the circumstance.

The paper was presented as effectively a blank confession, sources said. He refused to sign.”[59]

As a result, Alvarez was immediately sentenced to 26 years in prison.[60]

So Alvarez remained in prison. Near the end of February, Ortega banned churches from observing the stations of the cross in public.[61] [62] Ortega implicitly recognized the lack of democracy in his own government by making a comparison to the Catholic church, saying “I don't believe in popes or kings: who chooses the Pope?…If we want to talk about democracy, the people should first elect priests and the bishops”[63] Then in March, Ortega made public Easter processions illegal too.[64] The justification given was not specific – “security concerns” was the official line.[65]

A year after having expelled the Vatican representative from Nicaragua, in March 2023,  the Ortega government severed diplomatic relations with the Vatican.[66] In response, the Vatican closed their Embassy in the country.[67] As such, at the time Nicaragua had the dubious honor of being one of only fourteen countries without diplomatic relations with the Vatican – four Communist Governments, Eight Muslim ones, one Buddhist one, and Nicaragua.[68]

Pope Francis made his sharpest and most direct comments on the matter to date, calling Ortega “unstable”, and bringing up the 26 year sentence of Bishop Alvarez, saying “It is something out of line with reality; it is as if we were bringing back the communist dictatorship of 1917 or the Hitler dictatorship of 1935.”[69]

When Easter came around, despite the ban which blocked over 5000 processions[70], some churches attempted public processions. Footage showed police chasing down one procession,[71] and there were at least eight other similar incidents.

In May, Nicaraguan police froze the bank accounts of several Catholic dioceses and then accused them of money laundering. According to Reuters, the police said they had "confirmed the unlawful removal of resources from bank accounts that had been ordered by law to be frozen," and that the bank accounts were connected to individuals who had been convicted of crimes such as treason.[72]

In July, some good news. Rolando Alvarez was released[73]… until he wasn’t. He was free for two days, but then thrown back into prison.[74] [75]

Then on August 15, the government accused the Jesuit-run Central American University of being a hub for terrorism, and seized and shut it down.[76]The National Catholic Reporter commented on the importance of the university, saying, “It has two large campuses with five auditoriums, engineering laboratories, a business innovation center, a library with more than 160,000 books in Spanish and English, a molecular biology center and facilities for 11 sports. Of the 200,000 university students in Nicaragua, an estimated 8,000 attend UCA.”[77] And never mind that Ortega himself had studied for a time at the university, and so had two of his children.[78] The University was the crown jewel seizure in what had become a pattern of closed universities – 26 since November 2021.[79]

Just eight days later on August 23rd, another blow to the Jesuits – the government banned the Jesuit order from the country,[80] [81] revoked its legal status, and seized all of its assets.

This was the life Catholics were now living in Nicaragua – everything they had built gone in an instant. On October 18, twelve more priests who had been arrested were sent to the Vatican and stripped of citizenship.[82] And though the hardest blows in Nicaragua have landed on the Catholic church, no group is exempt.

In November 2023, Evangelical Organization Mountain Gateway held a good news festival[83] where over one thousand three hundred evangelical churches participated and an estimated 300,000 individuals.

A month later in December, the Ortega government arrested 11 “Mountain Gateway” pastors, closed down the organizations 10 churches and revoked its legal status.[84] All its resources were seized, including 47 vehicles and four properties and the buildings on them. The imprisoned pastors were not allowed to attend their own hearings.[85] Money laundering was again used as the justification.[86] The sentences for the pastors included exorbitant fines totalling over 1 Billion US dollars between the eleven pastors.[87]

By February 2024, over 250 evangelical ministries had also been closed.[88]

But in January, some mixed news. The bad news is that nineteen more ministers were expelled to the Vatican and stripped of their citizenship.[89] The good news is that after over 500 days of imprisonment, bishop Rolando Alvarez was finally free.[90] He was included in the exile flight and is no longer under the thumb of the Nicaraguan dictatorship.

Also in January, former Vice President Mike Pence spoke out in opposition to the persecution of the Catholic Church in Nicaragua,[91] stating “I believe the time has come for the United States to make it clear to Nicaragua that we will not tolerate action against, suppression of, church leaders and religious leaders in Nicaragua without consequence.” He suggested the US alter their trade agreements with the country in response to the persecution.

So we’re nearly to the present. The attempted extinguishing of the Catholic Church in Nicaragua is an ongoing situation. In April, Government authorities staged prize fights on church properties for no seeming reason other than provocation.[92]

In May, the US Government’s Commission on International Religious Freedom released their world report.[93] Nicaragua was one of the 17 countries worldwide to be on the list of Countries of Particular Concern, keeping company with massive human rights violators like China, Eritrea, North Korea, and Saudi Arabia.[94] The report listed many more particular instances than those covered in this video. To mention every incident even briefly would take hours.

The first step towards a solution is awareness of the problem. Certainly there is one. The next step – that of finding a solution, is unfortunately more difficult.  Whether persecution will soon end, or become a new normal, forcing Catholics in Nicaragua underground is something that perhaps only time will tell.

[2] He said this in 1984 https://www.culturematters.org.uk/index.php/culture/religion/item/4152-i-m-a-marxist-who-believes-in-god-ernesto-cardenal-1925-2020

[3] https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/the_americas/from-rebel-to-strongman-how-daniel-ortega-became-the-thing-he-fought-against/2018/08/24/117d000a-97fe-11e8-818b-e9b7348cd87d_story.html

[4] https://www.youtube.com/ watch?v=bxleWerRDEU

[5] https://www.spiegel.de/international/spiegel/daniel-ortega-s-presidential-make-over-nicaragua-s-mr-love-and-peace-a-445589.html

[6] https://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/08/world/americas/08nicaragua.html

[7] https://en.mercopress.com/2008/12/15/nicaragua-is-a-family-dictatorship-claims-former-minister

[8] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2009/jan/11/nicaragua-world-ortega

[9] http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8316167.stm

[10] https://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE7A71Y5/

[11] https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2011/11/07/142102822/amid-reports-of-irregularities-nicaraguas-ortega-poised-for-a-landslide

[12] https://www.naharnet.com/stories/en/163844-nicaraguan-poet-laments-betrayal-of-a-revolution

[13] https://www.univision.com/univision-news/latin-america/how-nicaraguas-daniel-ortega-gradually-eliminated-the-opposition-and-consolidated-his-dynasty

[14] https://apnews.com/general-news-3ee83d8f97004fe78a6f7b2890d805f7

[15] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jun/26/nicaragua-opposition-daniel-ortega-presidential-election

[16] https://confidencial.digital/english/ernesto-cardenal-im-being-persecuted-politically-by-ortega-and-his-wife/

[17] https://brill.com/previewpdf/journals/exch/32/4/article-p340_5.xml

[18] https://www.state.gov/reports/2022-report-on-international-religious-freedom/Nicaragua/

[19] https://www.pewresearch.org/religion/2014/11/13/chapter-1-religious-switching/

[20] https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/20/world/americas/nicaragua-protests-ortega.html

[21] https://www.france24.com/en/20180420-nicaragua-pension-protest-police-deadly-students

[22] On April 22. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/4/23/nicaragua-ortega-scraps-pension-reforms-after-deadly-protests

[23] https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/26/world/americas/nicaragua-uprising-protesters.html

[24] https://apnews.com/article/f27e65a2be044f9cb58b042613d91712

[25] Ibid

[26] https://www.france24.com/en/20180515-bishops-mediate-nicaragua-talks-after-anti-ortega-demos

[27] https://www.ncronline.org/news/nicaraguan-bishops-end-role-mediators-national-dialogue

[28] https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2018/05/nicaragua-violento-ataque-a-multitudinaria-marcha-de-las-madres-en-managua/

[29] https://confidencial.digital/english/bishops-meet-thursday-with-nicaraguas-ortega/

[30] https://www.ncronline.org/news/bishops-journalists-attacked-church-nicaragua

[31] https://www.iowapublicradio.org/2018-07-16/they-wanted-to-kill-us-all-nicaragua-reels-after-bloody-church-siege

[32] https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/students-in-nicaragua-trapped-in-church-amid-gunfire-by-pro-government-militias/2018/07/14/c7f04512-86e3-11e8-9e06-4db52ac42e05_story.html

[33] https://confidencial.digital/english/ortega-issues-threats-and-accuses-the-bishops-of-plotting-a-coup/

[34] https://confidencial.digital/english/ortega-issues-threats-and-accuses-the-bishops-of-plotting-a-coup/

[35] https://trumpwhitehouse.archives.gov/briefings-statements/statement-press-secretary-nicaragua-2/

[36] https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/the_americas/from-rebel-to-strongman-how-daniel-ortega-became-the-thing-he-fought-against/2018/08/24/117d000a-97fe-11e8-818b-e9b7348cd87d_story.html

[37] https://www.americamagazine.org/faith/2019/02/18/pope-francis-lifts-suspension-imposed-nicaraguas-ernesto-cardenal

[38] https://www.ncronline.org/news/mob-enters-managua-cathedral-attacks-hunger-strikers-damages-property

[39] https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/11/07/statement-by-president-joseph-r-biden-jr-on-nicaraguas-sham-elections/

[40] https://cruxnow.com/church-in-the-americas/2022/03/ortega-regime-expels-vatican-representative-from-nicaragua

[41] Image: https://confidencial.digital/english/a-bishop-without-fear/

[42] https://ticotimes.net/2022/05/21/ortega-wants-to-silence-church-in-nicaragua-says-bishop

[43] https://qcostarica.com/government-of-nicaragua-closes-tv-channel-51-owned-by-the-episcopate/

[44] https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/251675/ortega-government-orders-dissolution-of-missionaries-of-charity-in-nicaragua

[45] https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/251675/ortega-government-orders-dissolution-of-missionaries-of-charity-in-nicaragua

[46] https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/251742/missionaries-of-charity-expelled-from-nicaragua-by-order-of-ortega-government

[47] https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/251939/ortega-regime-in-nicaragua-violently-shuts-down-catholic-radio-stations

[48] https://www.pillarcatholic.com/p/nicaraguan-parish-remains-under-siege

[49] https://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/ortega-nicaragua-dictatorship-catholic-church/

[50] Image here: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/church/news/2022-08/celam-expresses-closeness-to-church-in-nicaragua.html

[51] https://www.ncronline.org/news/world/detained-bishop-nicaragua-says-hate-must-be-answered-love

[52] https://www.ncronline.org/news/world/week-government-detention-nicaraguan-bishop-speaks-forgiveness

[53] https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/252071/breaking-police-force-their-way-into-chancery-and-abduct-bishop-in-nicaragua

[54] https://cpj.org/2022/09/nicaraguan-government-suspends-at-least-17-local-radio-and-tv-stations/

[55] https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/9/29/after-pope-outreach-nicaraguas-ortega-calls-church-a-dictators

[56] https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/253132/nicaraguan-dictator-daniel-ortega-i-never-had-respect-for-the-bishops

[57] https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/news-columns-blogs/andres-oppenheimer/article272400018.html

[58] https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/253610/why-persecuted-nicaragua-bishop-turned-down-the-chance-to-leave-the-country

[59] https://www.pillarcatholic.com/p/bishop-alvarez-would-accept-exile

[60] https://www.vaticannews.va/en/church/news/2023-02/bishop-alvarez-sentenced-to-26-years-imprisonment.html

[61] https://www.vaticannews.va/en/church/news/2023-02/nicaragua-ortega-bans-easter-processions-and-attacks-bishops.html

[62] https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/253760/dictatorship-in-nicaragua-bans-stations-of-the-cross-in-the-streets

[63] https://www.vaticannews.va/en/church/news/2023-02/nicaragua-ortega-bans-easter-processions-and-attacks-bishops.html

[64] https://www.wilsoncenter.org/blog-post/dictator-daniel-ortega-makes-public-easter-processions-illegal-nicaragua

[65] https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/ahead-easter-nicaraguan-catholics-press-despite-procession-ban-2023-04-04/

[66] https://confidencial.digital/english/ortega-severs-diplomatic-relations-with-the-vatican/

[67] https://english.elpais.com/international/2023-03-18/vatican-closes-embassy-in-nicaragua-after-ortegas-crackdown.html

[68] https://confidencial.digital/english/ortega-severs-diplomatic-relations-with-the-vatican/

[69] https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/253835/pope-francis-says-imprisonment-of-nicaraguan-bishop-reminds-him-of-hitler-s-dictatorship

[70] https://dialogo-americas.com/articles/nicaraguan-police-blocks-more-than-5000-holy-week-processions/

[71] https://english.elpais.com/international/2023-04-05/nicaraguan-police-chase-down-holy-week-procession.html

[72] https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/nicaragua-govt-accuses-catholic-church-money-laundering-freezes-accounts-2023-05-27/

[73] https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/nicaraguan-catholic-bishop-alvarez-released-prison-local-media-2023-07-05/

[74] https://www.thetablet.co.uk/news/17327/nicaraguan-bishop-released-then-imprisoned-after-refusing-exile

[75] https://www.barrons.com/news/jailed-nicaragua-bishop-alvarez-released-re-arrested-source-686eb2d4

[77] https://www.ncronline.org/news/nicaraguan-government-seizes-university-central-america-jesuits

[78] https://www.pillarcatholic.com/p/jesuits-face-crackdown-after-long

[79] https://apnews.com/article/nicaragua-jesuit-university-alumni-ortega-8a536a2198ef495fc872bfc821e3eb86

[80] https://catholicreview.org/society-of-jesus-banned-in-nicaragua/

[82] https://catholicreview.org/nicaragua-expels-a-dozen-priests-sends-them-to-the-vatican-ortega-regime-says/

[83] https://buenasnuevasnicaragua-com.translate.goog/?_x_tr_sl=auto&_x_tr_tl=en&_x_tr_hl=en&_x_tr_pto=wapp

[84] https://1819news.com/news/item/its-egregious-mountain-gateway-experiencing-religious-persecution-in-nicaragua-pastors-attorneys-jailed

[85] Ibid

[86] https://www-latimes-com.translate.goog/espanol/internacional/articulo/2023-12-23/iglesia-evangelica-de-eeuu-clausurada-en-nicaragua-niega-cargos-de-lavado-de-dinero?_x_tr_sl=auto&_x_tr_tl=en&_x_tr_hl=en&_x_tr_pto=wapp

[87] https://www.mountaingateway.org/update-march-28-2024.html

[88] https://www-christianitytoday-com.translate.goog/news/2024/february/nicaragua-ortega-cristianos-persecucion-mountain-gateway-es.html?_x_tr_sl=auto&_x_tr_tl=en&_x_tr_hl=en&_x_tr_pto=wapp

[89] https://www.wsj.com/world/americas/nicaragua-expels-19-imprisoned-catholic-clerics-to-vatican-b0461785

[90] https://www.ncronline.org/news/nicaraguan-bishop-lvarez-released-exiled-after-over-500-days-detention

[91] https://catholicreview.org/pence-suggests-u-s-alter-trade-agreement-with-nicaragua-in-response-to-church-persecution/

[92] https://www.examiner.org.hk/2024/05/03/nicaraguan-dictatorship-takes-to-profaning-churches/news/international/

[93] https://www.uscirf.gov/sites/default/files/2024-05/2024%20Annual%20Report.pdf


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