The regime of Daniel Ortega declared Bishop Rolando Álvarez guilty of treason for his criticism of the Nicaraguan dictatorship, and sentenced him to 26 years and four months in prison.
The sentence was read out in court in Managua, Nicaragua's capital, by Judge Octavio Rothschuh, president of the First Chamber of the Court of Appeals, and was handed down by the judge of the capital district, Nidia Camila Tardencilla. The bishop of Matagalpa was also stripped of his Nicaraguan citizenship:
That the accused Rolando José Álvarez Lagos be known as a traitor to the homeland. Likewise, it is declared that the offender has lost his citizenship rights in perpetuity, for perpetrating the crime of attacking national integrity to the detriment of the State and Nicaraguan society. April 13, 2049 has been established as the provisional date for the fulfillment of the sentence.
According to the ruling, the bishop is guilty of a series of crimes, including: treason, attacking national integrity and spreading false news. All the actions for which Álvarez has been convicted, go against new laws approved by the National Assembly of the country in 2021, when the Ortega regime was already in power.
Alvarez refuses to leave Nicaragua
This week, Alvarez refused to leave Nicaragua along with 222 other political prisoners who were also stripped of their citizenship and deported to Washington D.C. on a plane chartered by the US government. "Let them go free, I will pay them the penalty," the bishop pointed out.
Ortega called Alvarez's comment and his refusal to join the other prisoners in leaving the country an act of "arrogance." In doing so, he ordered the police to remove the bishop from the building where he was being held under house arrest, and transfer him to "La Modelo" prison, located in the outskirts of Managua, also known as one of the most dangerous prisons in Latin America, where serious human rights violations such as beatings and torture are carried out routinely. At this time, it is unclear how long he will remain there.
Aggression against the Catholic Church in Nicaragua condemned in the U.S.
Rockford Bishop David J. Malloy, chairman of the U.S. Bishops' Committee on International Justice and Peace, issued a statement condemning the "unacceptable" nature of the "injustice" being committed by the regime against Bishop Álvarez: "It is with great dismay that we witness the continued deterioration of religious freedom and human rights in Nicaragua."
Malloy stated that Monsignor Alvarez "had been kidnapped by the regime and isolated under house arrest without due process for condemning the regime's human rights abuses and the breakdown of democratic order in Nicaragua."