By Luis Eduardo Martínez M. (La Prensa)
HAVANA TIMES – At least 22 men hooded and armed with machetes raided on Tuesday afternoon the Catholic Church’s La Cartuja religious retreat facility, belonging to the Diocese of Matagalpa, which is headed by Bishop Rolando Jose Alvarez, mediator of the National Dialogue.
It took place on the day that Alvarez was traveling with Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes to Italy for a meeting at the Vatican with Pope Francis, concerned about the widespread violence unleashed in Nicaragua for over two months.
The highly organized criminals intimidated the guard, stole his shotgun and preceeded to steal or destroy whatever they found.
Some observers of the dramatic political events in the country, see the robbery, as revenge against the Church for supporting in the Dialogue the shortening of the presidential term of Daniel Ortega and his wife Rosario Murillo.
La Cartuja is a retreat center of international reference, where every month the entire clergy meets with Bishop Alvarez.
By sunset on Tuesday, the administration of La Cartuja was still quantifying the amount of the theft. Among the objects stolen was an electricity generator, a lawn mower, a television, an armchair in the main residence and all the bedding that was in a cellar. The unusually large number of thieves damaged doors, furniture, bedside tables, lamps and desks in an undetermined number of rooms.
Rodolfo Rugama Castro, the caretaker of the center, said that while he was working and moving through a small coffee plantation, on the western side of the building, he was surprised by 15 men with “sharp-edged” machetes, who told him: “don’t resist, because you’re a dead man if you do. ”
At least seven more men hidden among the coffee trees joined the 15, Rugama said, indicating that the thieves forced him to hand over some keys, telling him that “we are recovering all the weapons and food as well.”
“But here there is no food, people only come here for retreats,” Rugama replied to the men who in about half an hour ransacked the La Cartuja facilities.
One of the thieves detected the security camera in one of the corridors, proceeding to break it, said Rugama. Then they left and some neighbors, which had alerted Church authorities in the city of the attack, saw them continue towards the sector of Molino Norte.
According to La Prensa, some plain clothes police officers arrived later to begin investigations into the case.