“I gave them a program of where I would be during Holy Week. But in most of the churches where I was, they were outside the church,” he said.
The priest explained that a day before he was expelled, he did not celebrate Mass on Palm Sunday but instead had traveled to another chapel. In his place, there was another priest who helped him with Holy Week and who was in charge of celebrating Mass.
“I went to go get an alb for the chrism Mass (on Monday of Holy Week) in Estelí and then I received a video in which people looked upset. It seems that the priest who was there went outside to bless the palm branches at the doors of the church and the policeman told him that he couldn’t do that. When the priest went inside, people got upset and started saying things to the police,” he said.
“The next morning, when we went to the chrism Mass, they stopped us abruptly and told me that they were going to expel me from the country. They said that they were going to put me in jail because I was inciting the people, that I was dedicating all the homilies to our Bishop Álvarez who is in prison and I was organizing the Stations of the Cross,” he continued.
However, Alarcón pointed out to the authorities that everything said against him was “a lie.” Nevertheless, the police accused him of inciting a “riot” in the church.
“It was all a lie, I just went looking for my alb and came back,” he stressed.
“The policeman told me that he was issuing a warning. But we went to the chrism Mass, we were going to have lunch with my fellow priest and two other people, and they asked me for my papers and told me that I had to accompany them,” he recounted.
Then he said that they obliged him to get in a patrol car with two policemen and took him to the border.
“They made me cross and told me that I was now out of the country and couldn’t come back anymore. I didn’t know what to do, so I looked for a place to sit down. Some ladies saw me and I told them about it. They gave me a hug, I cried a little and they helped me get a phone to call my father and I was taken in by a family in San Marcos de Colón,” he said.
Alarcón noted that although the police didn’t use force, how they expelled him was “humiliating.”
According to a recent report prepared by lawyer and researcher Martha Patricia Molina, more than 3,000 Holy Week processions were prohibited by the dictatorship in Nicaragua this year.
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Daniel Ortega, who heads the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN), a guerrilla group turned political party, has been in power since 2007.
Hand in hand with his wife and vice president, Rosario Murillo, Ortega exercises an iron-fisted dictatorship that penalizes all criticism and dissent.
The Nicaraguan dictator is intensely persecuting the Catholic Church because it has been leading the defense of human rights. One of Ortega’s most recent targets has been the bishop of Matagalpa, Rolando Álvarez, convicted by the regime of “treason to the fatherland” and sentenced to 26 years and four months in prison.
This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.