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Nicaragua: Ortega critic Monsignor Rolando Álvarez sentenced to 26 years, stripped of nationality

After the announcement, the United States demanded on Saturday from the Nicaraguan regime the release of the bishop of the diocese of Matagalpa

Monseñor Rolando Álvarez, en una fotografía de archivo
Monseñor Rolando Álvarez, en una fotografía de archivo | EFE/Jorge Torres

February 11, 2023 5:47pm

Updated: February 13, 2023 3:19pm

The Nicaraguan Ortega regime sentenced Catholic Bishop Rolando Álvarez to more than 26 years in prison on Friday, a day after the cleric and critic of the dictator Daniel Ortega refused to be deported to the U.S. while in captivity.

The Sandinista court also stripped Álvarez of his Nicaraguan nationality, the same measure to which the 222 political prisoners released in Managua and exiled to the U.S.

After the announcement, the U.S. demanded on Saturday that Nicaragua release the bishop.

"Bishop Rolando Álvarez is unjustly imprisoned and we will continue to press for his release," a State Department spokesman told EFE.

The U.S. "condemns the stripping of citizenship from Bishop Álvarez and other political prisoners," the spokesman added. "Such a measure violates the fundamental rights of these people."

Last Thursday, Nicaragua released and expelled 222 political prisoners from the country.

Álvarez was convicted of treason, violating national integrity and spreading false news, among other charges, and another Nicaraguan, Fanor Alejandro Ramos, a former police officer who participated in anti-regime protestswas convicted of drug trafficking. Both men refused to leave Nicaragua. 

The judicial hearing against the priest was initially scheduled for the end of March, but was accelerated without explanation.

"The Nicaraguan dictatorship's hatred for Bishop Rolando Álvarez is irrational and he is out of control," Silvio Báez, a senior Nicaraguan bishop in exile in Miami, wrote on Twitter after the sentencing.

In televised remarks later Thursday, Ortega depicted the released inmates as criminal mercenaries for foreign powers, and accused them of seeking to undermine Nicaragua's national sovereignty.

Álvarez was taken from the Episcopal palace at dawn on Aug. 19 by law enforcement officers, along with priests, seminarians, and lay people after being forcibly locked up in his residence for 15 days, accused of trying to "organize violent groups."

Ortega has accused Catholic leaders of trying to oust him when some served as mediators with dissident groups after protests broke out that killed some 300 people in 2018.

Since then, the Marxist regime has expelled Catholic nuns and missionaries and shut down Catholic radio and television stations.