Father Roman’s Health Worsens under Police Siege in Masaya, Nicaragua

On last Friday, Father Edwin Roman unsuccessly tried to get the riot police to end the siege of his church in Masaya, Nicaragua.

Priest faints twice after four days under police siege in the San Miguel Arcangel Church in Masaya

By EFE (Confidencial)

HAVANA TIMES – Father Edwin Roman who, along with a group of 10 mothers on a hunger strike, on Monday marked four complete days under siege in his parish, suffered two fainting spells for lack of food and medicine.  Since Thursday, the church has been surrounded by police who have not allowed water, food or medicine to be brought in. 

The information on the priest’s health came from a person accompanying the hunger strikers who was also locked in the church with no food.

“The health of Father Edwin Roman appears to be delicate. He suffered two fainting spells between Sunday night and the early Monday,” Santiago Fajardo posted on his Facebook account. Fajardo is a released political prisoner who is also inside the besieged church in Masaya, together with fourteen other people, including the priest.

Father Roman, 59, was placed under police siege in his church last Thursday, when ten mothers of political prisoners began a hunger strike to convince President Daniel Ortega to free some 139 Nicaraguans who have been jailed for opposing his government.

The priest, together with Fajardo, journalist Marlon Powell, human rights advocate and defense attorney Yonarqui Martinez and the ten mothers, are suffering an imposed fast, due to the government decision to have police close the church off completely from contact with the outside world, with an extensive armed cordon around the surrounding streets.

The priest is a cancer survivor

Roman, a cancer survivor, was termed a “hero” in 2018 for saving dozens of demonstrators from death during the armed attacks launched by government forces against Masaya.  He had advised EFE in June of that year that “a pastor gives his life for his flock”.

In addition to lacking food and medicine, the people under siege are without electricity and water, since the government cut off both services to the church on Thursday.

The authorities have prevented the population from helping those shut into the church and have detained and charged 13 young people with serious fabricated crimes for trying to bring water to the church.

Father Edwin Roman celebrates Sunday mass behind closed doors, together with the mothers of political prisoners. Courtesy photo

Those under siege have maintained communication with the outside world via their cellphones that they’ve been charging in the priest’s automobile However, they’re fearful of an armed attack from the police and paramilitary when their only source of energy runs out.

The details of Father Roman’s life were little known in the country until the April 2018 crisis broke out and he decided to become “the voice of those who have no voice”, as he told EFE during the armed attacks.

Nephew of Sandino

The priest is a great nephew of Nicaragua’s most important national hero, Augusto C. Sandino (1895 – 1934), whose name and original vision inspired the Sandinista National Liberation Front, today the party led by Ortega. Roman’s maternal grandmother, Margarita Calderon, was the historic figure’s sister.

Roman originally graduated as a psychologist and also had experience in banking, but changed his life during the 80s. In 1990, he was ordained as a priest.

He had suffered a similar siege in June 2018 when he rescued the wounded, until he himself was “rescued” by a group of bishops, headed by the auxiliary bishop of Managua Silvio Baez and Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes, hours before an impending armed attack of the police and paramilitary.

The current situation of Roman and the others under siege in the church has provoked an atmosphere of renewed tension in Nicaragua, amid the crisis that has left hundreds dead, imprisoned or missing, thousands wounded and tens of thousands in exile.

The governments of Spain and Costa Rica, as well as the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, have petitioned Daniel Ortega’s government to suspend the police siege of the church, but so far to no avail.