Tensions between Church and State are at boiling point in Nicaragua, as Soviet-era Sandinistas siege Churches, and label clergy, terrorists.
The latest move by Nicaragua’s radical leftist dictator, Daniel Ortega, is a response to the Church feeding and sheltering dissidents during Ortega’s violent suppression of student protests in 2018.
Updates from Catholic News Agency describe how Ortega has ordered a ban on mass processions, and placed priests under house arrest.
Police are also investigating clergy – at the behest of the socialist regime – for,
‘[trying to] organize violent groups, inciting them to carry out acts of hatred against the population, creating an atmosphere of anxiety and disorder, disturbing the peace and harmony of the community.”
Bitter over the Church providing sanctuary and charity to wounded anti-government protesters, Ortega claims clergy were working for the United States government in a ‘plot to unseat him.’
The 76-year-old has also accused pastors of fostering domestic terrorism; of “having no respect for Christ, nor God,” and in a rant quoting the Bible, asserted that the Church was in league with the Pharisees.
Daniel Ortega’s swath of new anti-Christian initiatives are a clear political manoeuvre designed to tighten the socialist, and his wife, Vice President, Rosario Murillo’s “democratically elected” 15-year grip on power.
Observers believe Ortega’s ‘crackdown’ on Christians is an expansion of his regime’s purge of political opponents, of whom, France24 said, 180 are now considered to be political prisoners of the Sandinista government.
America Magazine’s Jan-Albert Hootsen predicted in August last year, that the Catholic Church would be next in Ortega’s Stalinist repression:
“Using an anti-treason law passed last December by a National Assembly filled with political allies, Mr. Ortega’s regime has arrested no less than seven candidates running for president or vice-president over the past few months.”
Relaying events leading up to the general election in June, 2021, The Guardian quoted Nicaragua’s imprisoned former health minister Dora María Téllez labelling the purges as, ‘the last gamble of a dictator’s family.”
Once a comrade in Ortega’s 1960s-70s Marxist overthrow of nationalist dictator, Anastasio Somoza, Téllez, was arrested along other former Ortega revolutionaries, turned political opponents.
The same year, popular 2021 presidential candidate, journalist, and opposition leader, Cristiana Chamorro, was forced out of the election after police raided her home minutes before a scheduled press conference.
Nicaraguan authorities charged Chamorro, then asked ‘the country’s electoral tribunal to bar Chamorro from running or holding public office.’
Luis Almagro, head of the Organization of American States (OAS) criticised the arrest as a “politicising of Nicaragua’s legal system, and delegitimising of the electoral process.”
In a statement sourced by The Guardian Chamorro ‘described the legal moves against her as a “judicial monstrosity,” stating that the only aim is to block her run for the presidency.”
Note here the similarities between Ortega’s apparent purging of Chamorro, and recent moves by Democrats in the United States against Donald Trump.
In addition to Ortega’s arrests and imprisonment of his political opponents, 1,200 non-government organisations have been shut down since the beginning of 2022.
Up to eight Christian radio stations were included in the mandated closures.
Widespread reports, backed up by information from C.N.A, argued the stations were violently closed down by police because they were run by ‘bishop, Rolando Alvarez – a frequent critic of the Socialist government’s human-rights abuses.’
Initially stopped by riot police, Alverez, is accused of ‘hate speech and inciting violence.’ Alongside 6 other members of the clergy, he has been prevented from leaving the church since August 5.
The lockdowns, bans, and house arrests of clergy, fit a pattern of abuses described as “pro-Ortega terror.”
Such as the firebombing of churches, and outspoken, pro-freedom clergy, like Edwin Roman being sent into exile.
Although Ortega has never been a big fan of the Church, historically the Church and State in Nicaragua have had an off again, on again relationship. The church generally backed the Sandinistas, and supported Ortega’s election-winning abortion ban in 2006.
Despite this, Ortega’s crackdown on religious freedom is not to be simply dismissed as Leftist clergy being devoured by the leftist leviathan they once supported.
As The Heritage Foundation’s Mike Gonzalez explains,
‘The Catholic Church has been a common target of contempt, and accusations of undermining the leftist regime [is not a new thing], despite [the Nicaraguan clergies’] history of liberation theology and pro-left activism.’
Drawing from Gonzalez’s conclusions, Ortega appears to be emboldened by the weak-willed, navel-gazing Biden administration.
Unlike its previous occupant, the woke White House has turned a blind eye to human rights abuses, and in the name of nuance and niceness, sought to avoid ruining any chances it has at achieving a “dialogue” with Ortega and other ‘leftists in the region.’
This woke walking on eggshells could explain why The Vatican, particularly the current Pope, has yet to address the violation of civil liberties in Nicaragua.
The Western world continues to ignore the persecution of Christians, in exchange for props from Communists in China, KGBTQIAA+ activists in America, Islamists in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa.
The woketopian elite’s sympathy seems limited to the amount of virtue signalling points they can score from an event, or squeeze out of a word, fad, politicised phobia, or policy.
Illustrating this wicked self-centredness is how the brutal massacre of Christians in Nigeria and elsewhere, barely register as a blip on the globalist’s oppressor/oppressed intersectionality radar.
Look at the stark contrast between the West’s response to the recent bloodbath in Nigeria, and the photo-op, front-page solidarity, when a Mosque was attacked in New Zealand.
Then look at how Sri Lankan Christians were mocked by Democrats as “Easter Worshipers,” after 290 were slaughtered, and 500 more were wounded by Islamists in April 2019.
Nicaragua is no different. Limited concerns, matched with zero interest, reflect the West’s politically correct paralysis, and the permissive culture of silence it breeds.
First published on Caldron Pool, 18th August, 2022.