After the Pope described the Otega government as a “rude dictatorship,” comparing it to regimes like Hitler’s, numerous Nicaraguans have applauded that statement. “We were waiting for her,” says journalist Miguel Mendoza, exiled in Miami. We also evoke the accusations of the Mexican president against the press and the scandal of Nicolás Petro, son of the Colombian president.
The Pope evoked the Ortega regime as if it were a communist (Soviet) dictatorship of 1917 or a Hitlerian dictatorship of 1935. “It is a rude dictatorship. Or, as they say in Argentina, ‘guarango,'” Francisco commented in an interview with Infobae.
“Nicaragua is an eminently Catholic country and for a long time we have been waiting for a reaction from Pope Francis like the one he gave a few days ago,” says Miguel Mendoza, a Nicaraguan journalist, one of the 220 imprisoned opponents released by the Ortega regime a few days ago. weeks and who is now in exile in Miami.
“The pope’s message was powerful, condemning and comparing the government of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo to the greatest criminals in history,” adds Mendoza, who was imprisoned for 20 months. During that period, he suffered psychological torture, such as preventing him from sleeping and not seeing his relatives.
“But the Pope was taking a long time,” notes Mendoza. “The Church in Nicaragua has been persecuted. It must be remembered that not only priests have been taken to prison accused of crimes they did not commit. Processions have also been prohibited. A sacred image for the entire town was burned a couple of years ago. years in the Cathedral and the Pope did not say anything, he was not forceful. This time he was,” he adds.
Mendoza was expelled in 2018 from all sports venues for corroborating and denouncing the sniper attack from the facilities of the National Baseball Stadium in Managua against students and young people who were protesting against government repression.
In the interview with the Argentine outlet, the journalist quotes a phrase from the Nicaraguan president who accuses bishops, priests and popes of “being a mafia.”
“After Ortega expressed in a forum before his supporters that the Church was full of mafia, the Pope did react there. His response is flattering. We have taken it as the total distancing of the Vatican from the Nicaraguan regime,” says Mendoza.
Why talk about distancing?
“In Nicaragua the Nuncio was constantly seen on the stage and people were upset because he, who is the Vatican’s representative here in our country, never gave a forceful statement. Bishop Alvarez was expelled and the Vatican did not say anything. I I am Catholic, I believe in the Pope, but I also consider that the answer is late,” he says.
Although it is late, for the opposition to Ortega it is an incentive.
“The Pope’s response comes late, but it comes at a time when Ortega is totally isolated. The adjectives that the Pope has used constitute for all of us who have been demanding peace and justice, democracy, the change of direction of that regime that is trampling Nicaraguans, a motivation for our civic struggle that the people continue to lead and for which we have paid a very high price”.
Miguel Mendoza highlights the fact that he and many other opponents were exiled while Nicaragua is “kidnapped” and the Church is “cornered because now not even processions are allowed; there are sieges and there are threats even in the churches themselves, with all the priests who stayed”.
In the interview with Infobae, the Pope also laments the situation of the Nicaraguan bishop Rolando Álvarez, arrested in August 2022 and sentenced to 26 years in prison for undermining national integrity. Nobody knows today where he is or how he is.
“The case of Monsignor Álvarez is a great example because he sacrifices himself in the first place for the people. He is taken to prison, the way he resisted until the last moment, outside of prison, was seen. When we were released, transported to the United States, Ortega said that Monsignor Álvarez did not want to get on the plane. Hours later he was sentenced to 26 years in prison. His state of health is unknown. It is something that hits us a lot because it is a symbol of our Church.”
The auxiliary bishop of Managua, Silvio Báez, wrote a Twitter message expressing his concern for Monsignor Rolando Álvarez. He also asked the international community to put pressure on the Ortega regime so that the bishop is released.