Who Silenced Nicaragua’s Courageous Bishop Rolando Alvarez?

Nicaraguan Bishop Rolando Alvarez

HAVANA TIMES – On May 3rd Nicaraguan Bishop Rolando Alvarez was bestowed the 2024 Libertas Prize of the Principality of Asturias, an award that recognizes individuals or organizations that excel in actively defending freedom.  The former political prisoner answered in the same way he has responded since being banished from his country and sent to the Vatican on January 14, 2024 – with complete and utter silence.

Rolando Alvarez became a symbol of resistance by taking a consistent stance from his Matagalpa pulpit criticizing the Ortega dictatorship’s repression and human rights abuses against its citizens, including priests and parishioners of the Catholic Church.

He continued speaking out as not only a spiritual guide but also a citizen in the years following the 2018 uprising. He did so despite the passive role of the Nicaraguan Episcopal Conference and its leader Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes.

Alvarez was repeatedly accused by Daniel Ortega and his wife/VP Rosario Murillo of destabilizing and provocative activities, a threat to Nicaraguan families. In August 2022, the Nicaraguan regime made good its threats – police surrounded the Matagalpa Curia and imprisoned Alvarez inside. That first day when Alvarez briefly evaded his captors, the photos of him kneeling in the street with his crozier and attempting to bless the police officer went viral all over the world.

Bishop Rolando Alvarez kneeling on the street in Matagalpa, Nicaragua shortly before his detention.

Alvarez was subsequently moved to Managua and held under house arrest. However, in February 2023 he once again defied the regime – this time by refusing to be banished to the United States with the 221 other political prisoners. In response, Ortega’s authorities immediately moved him to a solitary cell in a Managua prison. Less than 24 hours later, they sentenced him to 26 years for “treason.”

There in solitary, the Bishop became a cause celebre, focus of attention and inspiration for much of the Nicaraguan opposition and international Catholic activists. Finally, in January 2024, after enormous international pressure, he was released to the Vatican with 15 other imprisoned priests and two seminarians, in a secretive deal brokered by Pope Francis.

Since that time, absolutely nothing has been heard from the Nicaraguan bishop who spoke out so valiantly.

Ortega and Murillo were never able to scare Rolando Alvarez into silence or get him to beg for forgiveness while in prison. Now, however, under the orders of Pope Francis, he has been silent in exile. 

I am not alone in wanting to hear from Alvarez, learn about his experience in prison, his health, and whether he will continue to be the inspiring voice for freedom that many Nicaraguans had hoped for.  So far, though, it seems like the Pope was able to do what Ortega couldn’t: silence Rolando Alvarez.

Read more from Nicaragua here on Havana Times.

2 thoughts on “Who Silenced Nicaragua’s Courageous Bishop Rolando Alvarez?

  • I think the church has much more experience in silencing people or situations than any dictator.

  • Like in Cuba, to keep the church open and celebrating and SPREADING the GOSPEL is PARAMAOUNT.

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