“We Have All Seen the Express Burials”, says Bishop in Nicaragua

Monsignor Rolando Alvarez when he denounced the prohibition of his medical project. Courtesy / Confidencial

Monsignor Rolando Alvarez warns that cases of Covid-19 are on the rise and asks that deaths and infections be reported “truthfully”

By Ivette Munguia (Confidencial)

HAVANA TIMES – Monsignor Rolando Alvarez, the bishop of Matagalpa, urged Nicaraguan authorities on Sunday to “not distort reality” on the pandemic of the new coronavirus, and he demanded “serious behavior” in the handling of the disease.

During his Sunday homily, Álvarez requested “truthful” information on the amount of people infected with Covid-19 and the number of deaths. “Many of us have experienced the harshness of the virus in the family, in friends, in the neighborhood… We have seen graves dug, have witnessed many express burials, as they are called. We have known of death certificates with causes of death that clearly lack credibility,” he said.

The bishop warned the congregation that Nicaragua is currently experiencing a period of massive contagion. “We are in the week of exponential growth of the epidemiological curve,” he said, just as several doctor’s organizations that work independently have reiterated.”

The unofficial data that “assaults us day by day” reflects the pain of our people and the church is no stranger to that suffering. “We do not just watch reality pass by, we are not in times of just watching the death of our people. We are not in times of greetings as if we were in a procession to see the coffins of our people pass by. We cannot see faith from a window, we cannot, we should not, it would be a very serious social sin to just watch our civic responsibility from afar,” the bishop insisted.

In early May, Alvarez tried to promote a Covid-19 prevention effort in Matagalpa but the Ortega government expressly denied the possibility, saying it wasn’t necessary and that the health authorities had everything under control.

The call to stay at home

Alvarez also recognized the “enormous effort” of independent medical organizations that work to inform the public about the scope of the pandemic and “to raise our consciousness that it is not the time for shopping nights, it is not. It is not the time for unnecessarily going outside, to festivals in parks, in cities, to parades and much less for huge agglomerations,” he stressed.

Likewise, Cardenal Leopoldo Brenes celebrated Sunday mass from his home and without the presence of parishioners. The Church leader took advantage of the cameras of the Nicaraguan Episcopal Conference (CEN) channel to urge the population to not go outside in order to avoid getting the new coronavirus.

Since the first cases of Covid-19 were reported in Nicaragua in March of 2018, the Catholic Church has directed to cancel masses or celebrate them with the fewest number of parishioners to prevent contagion, but the Government of Daniel Ortega has organized processions and patron saint festivals, in an effort to pretend that nothing is happening in the country.

On May 24, the bishops of the CEN issued a pastoral message in the midst of the health emergency for Covid-19 in Nicaragua, in which they maintain that the population “is aware of the fragility and vulnerability of the public health system, the speed with which the contagion progresses, the truth about the number of people infected and deaths due to the virus.” This, at a time when the Government of Daniel Ortega persists in minimizing the impact of the disease despite reports of relatives and medical sources on cases not recognized by official statistics increases.

“We are suffering with our people their uncertainty, pain and death. Pain and helplessness lead to despair. Families mourn their dead without a final goodbye. The fear and insecurity suffered by the population grows in the face of silence by the State and the misinformation about the progress of the epidemic. Fear or the impossibility to go to hospitals suffering from the disease in the silence of their homes. [We are witnessing] the manipulation of conscience, coercion and political opportunism in handling the pandemic,” added the bishop.