Ortega Forces Assault Catholic Bishops and Journalists in Diriamba, Nicaragua

TV reporter from Channel 15.


HAVANA TIMES – A mission of the Catholic Church made up of bishops and the apostolic nuncio to Nicaragua, Waldemar Sommertag, was attacked today by supporters of the Ortega government in the city of Diriamba, in the south of the country, reported dpa news.

Dozens of hooded government supporters forced their way into the San Sebastián Basilica in Diriamba, where they beat several people and wounded one of the bishops, according to Channel 15.

The bishops had come to the city on a “humanitarian mission” on the day after a massacre of demonstrators by government paramilitary forces left numerous dead, wounded and kidnapped in Diriamba and neighboring Jinotepe.

The station broadcast images of the auxiliary bishop of Managua, Monsignor Silvio Baez, with a wound on his right arm apparently caused by a sharp object. Another of the injured was a journalist from Channel 15, whose camera equipment was stolen and he appeared in images with a bloody nose.

The journalist said that other colleagues who accompanied the religious delegation also suffered beatings and theft of their cameras, phones and other belongings. It is the third time that Channel 15 suffers the theft of camera equipment by paramilitaries under the orders of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo.

“There are no words to describe this, they disrespected our bishops, they robbed the journalists,” said the president of the Nicaraguan Association for Human Rights (ANDPDH) Álvaro Leiva, who took refuge with the group of religious leaders in the sacristy of the church. The priest Edwin Roman denounced that the aggression was a plan prepared by the governing FSLN party.

The religious leaders tried to visit the cities of Diriamba and Jinotepe, 43 kilometers from Managua, and arrived in a caravan of vehicles accompanied by journalists and human rights activists, on a mission similar to that of June 21 in Masaya, said the Archdiocese of Managua.

The trip to Carazo is “to accompany the population in these difficult times they have lived in the last hours,” said the Episcopal Conference in a tweet as they left Managua. “Let us pray for our priests and bishops so that God continues to illuminate his prophetic mission,” the organization added.

Bishop Silvio Baez

At least 12 people died over the weekend in Nicaragua as a result of violent attacks by paramilitary forces against civilian protesters opposed to the government in at least four localities in the country, human rights organizations and community leaders said today.

Nicaragua is experiencing its worst political crisis in 40 years since the student protest began on April 18, and worsened after the violent action of the police and paramilitaries against unarmed demonstrators.

Days before the weekend massacre, independent human rights organizations registered 309 dead, mostly young students attacked by police and paramilitaries.

The Civic Alliance and other groups have called a national march for Thursday July 12 and a National Work Stoppage for Friday the 13th. However, after the attack on the bishops and journalists on Monday the social networks were buzzing with people calling to advance the protest actions.