Nicaraguan Bishop Rolando Alvarez: 9 Months Imprisoned

Rolando Alvarez during one of his Kangaroo Court hearings.

On August 19, 2022, Monsignor Alvarez, Bishop of Matagalpa, was forcibly abducted from the city’s Curia by Police. Since then, the dictatorship has carried out a chain of abuses against him.

By La Prensa

HAVANA TIMES – Friday, May 19, marks nine months since the Episcopal Curia in Matagalpa was raided by Police officials, under orders from the dictatorship of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo. Following their assault, the Police abducted Matagalpa’s Bishop, Rolando Jose Alvarez.

Approximately seven hours after searching the Curia, the Ortega Police reported that Monsignor Alvarez, who also served as apostolic administrator of the Esteli diocese, was being held under “house arrest” in Managua. From that moment forward, the Bishop has remained arbitrarily deprived of his freedom, lawyers allege.

On December 13, 2022, the regime formally presented the religious leader in the Managua Courts for the first time since his arbitrary detention. Alvarez was then “formally” charged by the Public Prosecutor for the fabricated crimes of “conspiracy to undermine the national integrity and propagation of fake news, to the detriment of the State and Nicaraguan society.”

On February 9, 2023, Monsignor Alvarez was summarily transferred from his family home in Managua to La Modelo prison, after he refused to leave the country along with another 222 political prisoners who were released, banished and dispatched on an airplane to the United States.

The following day, the dictatorship held a rushed political trial, in which the Bishop was sentenced to 26 years and four months in prison. They also stripped him of his citizenship, declaring him no longer a Nicaraguan national.

Legally classifies as an abduction

Attorney and researcher Martha Molina affirmed that Monsignor Alvarez continues to fit the legal construct of abduction, because “in his case, the due process guarantees established in the Nicaraguan Constitution and penal laws were never respected. He was arbitrarily taken from his residence while praying, without having committed any crime whatsoever,” she argued.

In addition, Molina pointed out, even though the dictatorship currently claims that the bishop is being held under common prison conditions, “no one is sure where he’s been abducted to, due to the regime’s secrecy regarding his case.” Shek added: “In any case, the Nicaraguan jails have been accused by national and international human rights organizations of over 40 instances of torture, as well as cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment.”

At nine months since Monsignor Alvarez’ detention, human rights lawyer Gonzalo Carrion, with the Nicaragua Nunca + [“Never again”] Human Rights Collective, has a similar reading of the situation. He argued: “starting with the initial privation of freedom, there’s been an arbitrary and unconstitutional violation of his rights and guarantees.”

Carrion also stated, “in these nine months, there’s been an accumulation of acts that amount to a chain of abuses of power. These include his absolute defenselessness, and violations of his right to be presumed innocence and his right to know the reasons for his legal detention, according to what is established in the Constitution. None of these have been respected. It’s impossible for us to find any legality in all this.”

The first bishop imprisoned in Nicaragua

Alvarez, 56, is the first bishop ever to be arrested and accused since Ortega’s return to power in Nicaragua in 2007.

Previous to his August 2022 detention, Monsignor Alvarez spent 15 days confined by police to the Matagalpa Curia, together with other religious and lay supporters. Those accompanying him were accused of the same crimes and also imprisoned, but unlike Monsignor Alvarez, they accepted being released on condition of banishment to the United States.

The Police that accused the Bishop last August, is directed by Francisco Diaz, who is related through marriage to Daniel Ortega.

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