On the list are the priests Manuel Salvador García Rodríguez, 57, pastor of Jesus the Nazarene Church in the Diocese of Granada, sentenced to two years in prison for the crime of threatening five people with a weapon; and Monsignor José Leonardo Urbina Rodríguez, 51, from the same diocese, sentenced to 30 years in prison for allegedly abusing a minor under 14 years of age.
Other priests who were deported are Oscar Benavidez Dávila, 50, pastor of Holy Spirit parish in Molokukú; Ramiro Reynaldo Tijerino Chávez, 50, rector of the John Paul II University; Sadiel Antonio Eugarrios Cano, 35, former vicar of the Matagalpa cathedral; and José Luis Díaz Cruz, 33, current vicar of the Matagalpa cathedral.
Also deported were Deacon Raúl Antonio Vega González, 27; seminarians Darvin Esteylin Leiva Mendoza, 19, and Melkin Antonio Centeno Sequeira, 23; and photographer Sergio José Cárdenas Flores, 32.
Benavidez was sentenced Feb. 4 to 10 years in prison, while the aforementioned others were sentenced Feb. 6 to 10 years in prison with an additional 800-day monetary fine based on a percentage of their daily income. They were all accused of conspiracy and spreading fake news.
According to the Nicaraguan newspaper La Prensa, at least 40 political prisoners were incarcerated in the El Chipote prison, notorious for torturing opponents of the regime, and are “high-profile” opponents, including university students who were prominent in the 2018 anti-government protests.
The United States government has granted the deportees a humanitarian permit to live and work in the country.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Spain, José Manuel Albares, told Agence France Presse (AFP) that his government will offer Spanish nationality to the deportees.
This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.
Walter Sánchez Silva is a senior writer for ACI Prensa (https://www.aciprensa.com). With more than 15 years of experience, he has reported from important ecclesial events in Europe, Asia and Latin America during the pontificates of Benedict XVI and Pope Francis.