After almost a year of incarceration for his criticism of the president of Nicaragua, Bishop Rolando Alvarez was released. Negotiations between officials of the regime, the national Episcopal Conference and the Vatican are said to have reached an agreement to release the prelate and send him into exile, most likely to Rome.
Extraoficialmente se ha mencionado, por parte de fuentes creíbles y bien informadas, que Monseñor Rolando Álvarez podría ser enviado fuera de Nicaragua en las próximas horas, probablemente mañana. Se confirma que ya no se encuentra en el centro de detención La Modelo.
— Félix Maradiaga (@maradiaga) July 4, 2023
"Under the protection" of the Nicaraguan Bishops' Conference
It was opposition member Félix Madariaga who first reported the events, stating that Álvarez had been released from La Modelo prison where he was serving his 26-year prison sentence. Although there has been no official communiqué from the Regime or the Episcopal Conference, ecclesiastical and diplomatic sources confirmed to El Confidencial that the bishop was already "under the protection" of the bishops.
🚨🚨#URGENTE | El obispo de Matagalpa y administrador apostólico de la diócesis de Estelí, monseñor Rolando José Álvarez, fue excarcelado este mediodía de la cárcel Modelo por órdenes del gobernante Daniel Ortega. Esto es lo que se sabe https://t.co/lgZffTXfbA
— Confidencial Nicaragua (@confidencial_ni) July 5, 2023
Held in an undersized, unhealthy and unventilated cell
Although the aforementioned sources did not confirm the points of the agreement, leaks indicate that the bishop of Matagalpa and apostolic administrator of the diocese of Esteli will leave the country for Rome as soon as possible. The regime was always in favor of removing the prelate from the country. In 2022, he was ordered to take a plane to the U.S. along with 222 other political prisoners who were banished. Upon his refusal, he was subjected to a summary judgment.
Ortega was one of the main voices of opposition that denounces the regime of Daniel Ortega and his wife, pointing out its abuses and human rights violations. After several weeks of harassment, he was placed under house arrest for several weeks until he underwent a mock trial in which he was sentenced to 26 years in prison and deprived of his Nicaraguan nationality. He was locked up in El Infiernillo, a maximum security cell about two and a half meters long by two meters wide, unsanitary and without ventilation, according to several former political prisoners who have been imprisoned there.