Denver Newsroom, Aug. 2, 2022 / 3:30 p.m. (CNA).
Nicaraguan police raided Divine Mercy Parish on the night of August 1 in the town of Sébaco in the diocese of Matagalpa to shut down one of five Catholic radio stations shut down Monday by Daniel Ortega’s regime.
On Facebook, the parish broadcast live the arrival of the police at the gates of the parish as well as their entry in force.
The Sebaco Catholic channel also broadcast the police raid on the chapel of the Infant Jesus in Prague live. The station reported that the police fired shots in the air and threw tear gas canisters to chase away people who had come to support Father Uriel Vallejos, the media director.
“We ask, brethren, please join us in prayer. All who are at home, at this time, please, we ask you to kneel, light a candle in front of the image of the Virgin Mary. May she protect us with her celestial cloak,” the announcer said.
The diocese of Matagalpa, whose bishop, Rolando Álvarez, is one of the most critical of the government, reported that the country’s regulatory agency, the Nicaraguan Institute of Telecommunications and Postal Services (TELCOR), the had informed on Monday of the closure of Radio Hermanos.
“At this time, we have been informed that they have also closed Our Lady of Lourdes radio in La Dalia, Our Lady of Fatima radio in Rancho Grande, Alliens radio in San Dionisio and Mount Carmel radio. in Río Blanco,” the bishop announced in his statement.
The diocese said TELCOR’s argument for closing Radio Hermanos is “that since January 30, 2003, we have not had a valid operating license.”
However, the diocese stated that on June 7, 2016, “our Bishop Rolando Álvarez personally presented the documentation” before said institution to request the current operating licenses of Radio Hermanos, Our Lady of Lourdes Radio in La Dalia, Notre- Dame de Fatima Radio in Rancho Grande, Mount Carmel Radio in Río Blanco, St. Lucy Radio in Ciudad Darío, Catholic Radio in Sebaco, and St. Joseph Radio in Matiguas.
The diocese noted that his request “was never answered.”
“All this documentation is available to TELCOR, the national and international community,” the Bishop added.
During a mass celebrated last night, Álvarez denounced that “virtually TELCOR has canceled all the radio stations in our diocese”.
“All our radios have been shut down. But they will not silence the Word of God,” the Bishop said.
In its statement, the diocese said that “we will continue to report and denounce any situation that, like this, continues to violate freedom of expression and religion in Nicaragua.”
On May 20, TELCOR removed the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua television channel from its programming.
In addition, Álvarez and Father Harvy Padilla, pastor of St. John the Baptist Church in Masaya, were followed and harassed by government police.
Álvarez, head of communications for the Episcopal Conference and the Catholic Channel, said what the government wants “is a silent Church that does not announce the hope of the people” and does not denounce “personal sin and the structures of unfairness.”
On July 6, the Ortega diet expelled 18 Missionaries of Charity of the country on the grounds that the sisters had failed to comply with various government regulations for non-profit organizations.
There have been tensions in recent years between some Catholics and supporters of Ortega, who ruled the country for more than a decade after the Sandinistas ousted the Somoza dictatorship in 1979. Ortega is once again president of Nicaragua since 2007 and oversaw the abolition of presidential term limits in 2014.
Ortega’s government has accused many bishops and priests of siding with its opposition.
A crisis erupted in April 2018 after Ortega announced social security and pension reforms. The changes were quickly scrapped in the face of widespread and vocal opposition, but protests only escalated after more than 40 protesters were killed by security forces.
Security forces killed at least 320 protesters and hundreds more were arrested.
Since the protests began, there have been a series of attacks on clergy, churches and church facilities targeted by pro-government groups.
The apostolic nuncio to Nicaragua was expelled in March.
This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.
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