HAVANA TIMES – Cardinal Miguel Obando y Bravo, former archbishop of Managua and emblematic figure of the Catholic Church of Nicaragua for several decades, died today at 92, the government reported on its website “El 19 Digital”.
The official report indicated that Obando “made the transition to another plane of life at 03:48 (09:48 GMT) on June 3” and expressed condolences to his relatives.
“Nicaragua, which is experiencing tragic and disunited times, will forever recognize his life dedicated to reconciliation and peace,” the publication added, alluding to the serious political crisis and social protests that the government of Daniel Ortega faces.
The auxiliary bishop of Managua, Monsignor Silvio Baez, confirmed on his Twitter account the death of the first Catholic cardinal of Nicaragua, after receiving the news from Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes.
Obando y Bravo was born on February 2, 1926 in the municipality of La Libertad, in the central province of Chontales. He was ordained a priest in 1958, bishop in 1968 and proclaimed a cardinal in 1985 by the late Pope John Paul II. The gold mining town of La Libertad is also the hometown of Daniel Ortega.
Having been a harsh critic of the military dictatorship of Anastasio Somoza and having mediated in numerous cases of kidnappings and armed assaults of the Sandinista guerrillas. Obando later became the fiercest internal opponent of the revolution (1979-1990).
Obando publicly supported the “Contras” armed by the United States who fought the first government of Ortega (1985-1990). Afterwards he supported the campaigns of Violeta Chamorro (1990) and Arnoldo Aleman (1996).
However, he later approached Ortega and his family, and endorsed the return of the former guerrilla to power in 2007. It had also been Obando who married Ortega and Murillo in September 2005. Thanks to their new relationship with the Catholic Church, the Ortegas and the Sandinista legislators joined the Liberal Party in 2006 to repeal a century old law that allowed for abortions in certain cases including when a woman’s like is in danger.
With Ortega back in power, Obando accepted a position on a reconciliation commission and since then he remained very close to the president, who in 2016 named him “a hero of peace and reconciliation.”