GOP Demands Answers Regarding Jailed Priest
In August 2022, His Excellency Rolando Álvarez Lagos, Bishop of Matagalpa, was told he could not leave his home by government agents.
According to local reports, this was done because he "frequently lambastes the violation of human rights, religious persecution and abuses of power" by the Ortega government.
In December 2022, the Bishop was formally charged with conspiracy "for undermining national integrity and propagation of false news through information and communication technologies to the detriment of the State and Nicaraguan society."
Free Him Now
In February 2023, more than 200 political prisoners were turned over to the United States, but Alvarez was not among them.
One day later, the Nicaraguan government ruled that Alvarez was a traitor, he was sentenced to 26 years in prison, and he was also stripped of his citizenship.
It was revealed at the time that Alvarez refused to be exiled with the other prisoners.
Now, Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) is demanding that Secretary Blinken explain what steps are being taken to free Alvarez from custody.
In a letter to Blinken this week, he stated, "I am gravely concerned about the overall state of religious freedom in Nicaragua and write today inquiring about the wellbeing of His Excellency Rolando Álvarez Lagos, Bishop of Matagalpa, a prisoner of conscience who remains wrongfully detained by the brutal — and criminal — Ortega-Murillo regime in Nicaragua.”
Alvarez was part of a massive sweep on the part of the Noriega regime to round up clerics of the Catholic Church who were vocally opposed to the regime and its actions.
Rather than be part of the prisoner exchange mentioned above, Alvarez stated that he was going to stay behind to continue to protest against other Catholics being persecuted in Nicaragua.
During a floor speech, Smith added, "Bishop Álvarez is an innocent man enduring unspeakable suffering.
"His life and ministry have been an inspiring example of compassion, kindness, integrity, and selfless service."
Álvarez's imprisonment gained worldwide recognition in March when the Pope controversially compared the Nicaraguan regime to Hitler.