After more than two and a half months without news from Monsignor Rolando Álvarez, the government of Daniel Ortega has released some images of the Nicaraguan bishop this weekend.
Sentenced to more than 26 years in prison accused of "treason against the homeland", the priest appeared in some photographs and videos broadcast by official media in which he was seen eating in a prison room with two of his brothers, who finally they were able to visit him.
"Thank God, [I'm] fine, with a lot of inner strength, with a lot of peace in the Lord and the Blessed Virgin," the priest replied to a Channel
journalist in La Modelo prison.
The reappearance of the Bishop of Matagalpa, who has emerged as one of the voices most critical of the Government of Daniel Ortega, occurs after human rights organizations and opposition groups requested proof of life of the priest, who had not been given seen publicly since February 10, the day he was tried, charged with "conspiracy to undermine national integrity" and "propagation of false news."
Monsignor Rolando Álvarez with his brothers Vilma and Manuel Álvarez. Presidency of Nicaragua (EFE)
"We have talked, we have eaten very tasty here, with a meal that our friends from the prison system provided us," says Monsignor Álvarez before the camera of the official channel.
In the images he wears the blue prisoner's suit and appears serene, smiling and responding with good humor to the media reporter.
In one of them, they ask him to reaffirm whether he has received "dignified treatment as every human being deserves."
"Yes, I thank the competent authorities and the prison system," he simply says.
The journalist replies that he is glad to see him well.
"Does it look good to me? Healthy? And my face, how do they see it?" the priest laughs at the question.
And then he thanks the Virgin for the visit of her brothers.
The images of Monsignor Álvarez were received with joy by the Nicaraguan opposition, which in recent days had intensified a campaign to demand proof of the priest's life from the Government.
“Seeing Monsignor Álvarez, strong and with his face illuminated with dignity and courage, is for me a reason for joy.
It is the proof of life that we have demanded so much.
He is kidnapped, but his voice is stronger than ever.
I have faith in God that very soon we will see him out of that jail, ”wrote the former presidential candidate and exiled political prisoner Félix Maradiaga on his Twitter account on Saturday, when the official media showed the images of the bishop with his brothers.
"For those of us who know the prisons of the dictatorship, we know that the serene smile of Bishop Álvarez is due to his courage and faith in God," he added this Sunday, after the priest's statements were released.
For those of us who know the prisons of the dictatorship, we know that the serene smile of Bishop Álvarez is due to his courage and faith in God.
With these images, the dictatorship fools no one!
The Monsignor's rights are cut off and he is kidnapped!
We demand his immediate release.
— Felix Maradiaga (@maradiaga) March 26, 2023
Álvarez, 56, was sentenced on February 10 in an express trial without guarantees after refusing to board the plane along with the 222 political prisoners who were exiled and later stripped of their nationality.
"Let them be free, I pay their sentence," said the bishop, who until then was serving house arrest.
The refusal to comply with the wishes of the regime to expel critical voices placed the priest in the crosshairs of Justice, administered by operators related to the Ortega government.
The president himself called him arrogant, deranged and energetic.
In addition to the 26 years and 4 months sentence, they stripped him of his Nicaraguan nationality like the exiled prisoners and dozens of other critics.
But for many, the sentence reaffirmed the priest as a symbol of the opposition resistance in Nicaragua, which has the Catholic Church as one of its main bastions.
Pope Francis himself has recently charged against the regime of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo in Nicaragua, which he has described as a "rude dictatorship", with overtones of "communist or Hitlerian dictatorship".
“There we have a bishop in prison, a very serious man, very capable.
He wanted to give his testimony and did not accept exile, ”said the pontiff in statements to the
For his part, the former auxiliary bishop of Managua, Silvio Báez, now in exile in the United States, used this Sunday's homily in his Miami parish to support his colleague.
"He gave us great joy and we should all be glad to have seen him and to know that he is alive," said the priest, as seen in a video of the mass published by
“The dictatorship has shown that he is afraid, that he is vulnerable and that he is afraid.
That's why they showed it.
It is the fruit of the liberation of the church and also of the effort that has been made at the international level to denounce this crime and demand his freedom", Báez added in the homily in which he demanded his freedom "because he is innocent".
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