The Actívate and Solidart platforms have delivered a petition with 11,000 signatures to the Nicaraguan embassy in Mexico City condemning the human rights violations committed by dictator Daniel Ortega and demanding the release of the bishop of Matagalpa, Rolando Álvarez.

Members of both platforms held a peaceful demonstration and a prayer vigil in front of the Nicaraguan embassy to express their condemnation of the abuses and violations of human rights in the Central American country.

The Ortega dictatorship on Feb. 10 sentenced Álvarez to 26 years in prison, accusing him of “treason” and stripping him of his Nicaraguan citizenship.

A day earlier, the bishop, a critic of human rights abuses in the country, refused to board the plane that brought more than 200 political prisoners, including four priests, to the United States in an agreement the regime negotiated with the U.S. State Department. 

According to Nicaraguan media, Álvarez is being held in a maximum security cell in the Modelo prison in Managua.

In a statement in conjunction with the delivery of the signatures, Hugo Rico, director of Solidart, said that “we strongly condemn the rampant religious persecution of the Catholic Church by the Daniel Ortega regime in that country, since it undercuts with impunity the right to religious freedom, established in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”

The platforms demanded the prompt release of Álvarez and also demanded that the Mexican government show solidarity with the Nicaraguan people and condemn the outrages of the Ortega regime.

“We accompany the delivery of signatures of the campaign that Solidart began on Aug. 12 to demand an end to the persecution against the Catholic Church of Nicaragua,” said Uriel Esqueda, Actívate campaign leader.

Esqueda pointed out that “throughout the six months the campaign has been open, it has been signed by more than 11,300 people concerned about the serious intolerance that prevails in the sister Central American country at the hands of a government that has no room for criticism nor for those who think differently.”

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In another gesture of solidarity, the bishop of Tilarán-Liberia in Costa Rica, Manuel Eugenio Salazar Mora, traveled to the border with Nicaragua to pray for Álvarez.

“The closest I can be to my brother +Rolando Álvarez, Bishop of Matagalpa,” the prelate wrote on Facebook Feb. 16.

When Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity were expelled from Nicaragua in July 2022, Salazar welcomed them into his diocese.

“I was able to pray Thursday’s Eucharist for our brother people of Nicaragua, for the Church, for its pastors and especially for its inhabitants,” the Costa Rican bishop said.

“My pastor’s heart feels wounded by the unjust imprisonment of +Bishop Álvarez, but it fills me with strength to have come to the Nicaraguan border to pray for him,” Salazar wrote.

“Let’s not stop imploring the Immaculate Conception for a miracle for Nicaragua. Long live Christ the King!” he concluded.

Also praying for Álvarez’s miraculous release was Father Erick Díaz, one of the 222 political prisoners exiled from Nicaragua by the Ortega regime on Feb. 9.

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In a video shared Feb. 18 by Father Manuel Dorantes on Twitter, Díaz, who will be serving at St. Mary of the Lake Parish in Chicago, asks for continued prayers “for our Bishop Rolando Álvarez, who has been sentenced to 26 years in prison, to tell the world and God to continue accompanying him in this great miracle that we continue to ask for.”

“Justice will shine and injustice does not have the last word,” the priest stressed.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.