18 November 2023, The Tablet

Human rights advocate asks UK Parliament to help release Bishop Álvarez

by Walter Sanchez Silva, CNA

MPs and peers heard about “the situation of political prisoners in Nicaragua and the need to impose more severe sanctions”.

Human rights advocate asks UK Parliament to help release Bishop Álvarez

Bishop Rolando Álvarez of Matalgalpa, Nicaragua.
Archdiocese of Managua

Félix Maradiaga asked MPs and peers for their support in freeing Nicaragua’s political prisoners, including the Bishop of Matagalpa Rolando Álvarez.

Maradiaga, the president of the Nicaragua Freedom Foundation and a former presidential candidate, visited the Houses of Parliament the day after the exiled Nicaraguan Bishop Silvio Báez received an award from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) in Washington, DC.

Báez reiterated his call for the dictatorship of President Daniel Ortega to release Álvarez, unjustly imprisoned for being a “traitor to the homeland”.

Maradiaga told ACI Prensa that during his visit to Westminster he advocated for all Nicaraguan political prisoners. “We haven’t forgotten anyone,” he said.

He was received by peers including the Liberal Democrat Lord Purvis and Lord Alderdice of the Alliance Party, to whom he explained “the situation of political prisoners in Nicaragua and discussed the need to impose more severe sanctions on those who commit crimes against humanity and acts of corruption”, according to a statement.

One of the topics discussed was a proposal to establish a special office of the British government to advocate for political prisoners around the world as well as the importance of democracies collaborating with one another to confront dictatorships such as Nicaragua, Russia, China, and Iran.

Maradiaga concluded by “reaffirming the commitment to work tirelessly until we achieve the freedom and justice that the Nicaraguan people deserve”.

Rolando Álvarez, the Bishop of Matagalpa and the apostolic administrator of Estelí in Nicaragua, was prevented from leaving his residence by the Nicaraguan police on 4 August 2022.

Two weeks later in the middle of the night, the police broke into the residence, abducted him, and took him to Managua, where he was held under house arrest. After a trial this year plagued by irregularities, on 10 February he was sentenced to 26 years and four months in prison, accused of being a “traitor to the homeland”.

A day earlier, the bishop had refused to be part of the 222 former political prisoners who were stripped of their Nicaraguan citizenship and deported to the United States in a deal between the Ortega government and the US State Department.

In July, the prelate was temporarily taken from “La Modelo” prison, where he is serving his sentence, although he remained in police custody. Negotiations for his release failed and he was returned to prison.

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