The dictatorship of President Daniel Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, has ordered the bank accounts of several priests in some Nicaraguan dioceses to be frozen, according to the Nicaraguan lawyer and researcher Martha Patricia Molina.

In a statement to ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner, Molina, the author of the report “Nicaragua: A Persecuted Church?”, reported that priests from dioceses such as Granada, Jinotega, León, Matagalpa, and Estelí had informed her “about their bank accounts being blocked” on June 14.

“At first, some of them thought the system was down. They then went to the branch bank and [the bank] verbally notified them, without giving them any documentation, that their accounts had been suspended,” Molina said June 15.

For Molina, “this is one more arbitrary action of the dictatorship against the Nicaraguan Catholic Church” and “it’s something that is going to be common for more priests and even laypeople.”

“Although they were not charged at the time their accounts were frozen, the priests are being investigated and possibly in the future they will be charged with the crime of money laundering, which is what the police are investigating at this time,” she said.

On May 27, the Nicaraguan National Police published a statement in which it accused the Catholic Church of various crimes, including money laundering, a charge that would have no basis, according to human rights defenders.

Molina noted that the day before that accusation, the dictatorship ordered the bank accounts of several dioceses and the Archdiocese of Managua to be frozen, as well as parochial schools, formation houses, and parishes.

In the last five years there have been at least 529 attacks by Ortega against the Church, 90 so far in 2023, according to “Nicaragua: A Persecuted Church?”

The attacks include the unjust imprisonment of Bishop Rolando Álvarez, sentenced for treason in February to 26 years and four months in prison; the expulsion of 32 nuns from the country; the confiscation of seven Church buildings; and various media being shut down.

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