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Nicaraguan police investigate bishop who criticizes government

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MEXICO CITY — Nicaraguan police said Friday they have opened an investigation against a Roman Catholic bishop who has openly criticized the government of President Daniel Ortega.

They accused Archbishop Rolando Álvarez, head of the diocese of Matagalpa, of allegedly “organizing violent groups” and inciting them “to commit acts of hatred against the population”.

The police statement on Friday said the investigation would include a number of people and warned they would not be allowed to leave their homes while the investigation is ongoing.

Álvarez was inside his residence on Thursday when police cordoned off the area. Álvarez went out to pray in the street and approached them with an outstretched crucifix. Police blocked his attempt to get to the cathedral on Friday, so he celebrated Mass from home instead.

The police announcement came just hours after First Lady and Vice President Rosario Murillo slammed “sins against spirituality” and “displaying hatred” in an apparent reference to Álvarez.

Previously, Wilfredo Navarro, a leader of Ortega’s Sandinista National Liberation Front Congress, had accused Álvarez of creating a media circus in front of the police to “incite violence and disorder again”.

Navarro accused Álvarez and others of leading what Ortega and his party see as a failed coup attempt in April 2018. Navarro said the churches were “caves of delinquents and murderers” and that Álvarez “turns the church back into bases where they store weapons and plan”. violence.”

He warned that Álvarez was not above the law.

Navarro and Murillo’s comments appeared to lay the groundwork for police announcing an investigation Friday night.

In his Friday homily, Álvarez said he and others confined to his residence “have happiness in our hearts, inner strength and peace for our lives.” Neither church leaders in Nicaragua nor the Vatican commented on the situation this week.

This week, Ortega’s government shut down eight radio stations and one television station in Matagalpa province, north of Managua. Seven of the radio stations were run by the church.

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