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Montevideo, June 29th 2022 - 22:46 UTC



Nuncio expelled from Nicaragua, opposition leader found guilty

Monday, March 14th 2022 - 09:32 UTC
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The Ortega government has over 40 opponents under arrest for allegedly “undermining national sovereignty.” The Ortega government has over 40 opponents under arrest for allegedly “undermining national sovereignty.”

Vatican authorities have condemned over the weekend the decision by Nicaragua's regime of Commander Daniel Ortega to expel the nuncio from Managua. The Central American government's measure was enacted a week ago but not until this weekend was it made public, it was reported.

Polish Monsignor Waldemar Stanislaw Sommertag, who represented the Vatican in Nicaragua since 2018 was at odds with the Ortega administration and was subsequently ordered out of the country. Vatican sources said Pope Francis himself was about to ask Monsignor Sommertag to resign.

But in its official statement, the Vatican said it had received “with surprise and pain” the notification that the government had withdrawn its approval of the nuncio, “imposing on him to leave the country immediately.” It also described the order as “incomprehensible”, since the nuncio worked “tirelessly” for the Catholic Church and the people of Nicaragua, seeking to “favor good relations” between the authorities and the Holy See, which insisted “that this grave and unjustified unilateral decision does not reflect the sentiments of the deeply Christian people of Nicaragua”.

The permanent representative of the Vatican arrived in Managua in May of four years ago when the country was plagued by massive anti-government demonstrations, in which the Catholic Church was a mediator in search of a solution to the crisis. The nuncio participated as a witness in the second stage of dialogue, held in 2019, which was suspended without results.

Also announced this weekend was a decision by Nicaragua's judiciary to find former presidential candidate Cristiana Chamorro guilty of the charges filed against her, and for which she was banned from entering the Nov. 7 elections won by Ortega by a landslide, with all of his opponents either in jail or in exile. The Ortega government has over 40 opponents under arrest for allegedly “undermining national sovereignty.”

Relations between the Nicaraguan government and the Catholic Church are tense, following the 2018 social uprising when the clergy has been accused of having sided with the political opponents for a coup d'état.

Ortega, 76, was re-elected for a fourth term in November, after over 40 government critics were detained between June and December 2021, including seven presidential candidates. This group is joined by another 120 people imprisoned for participating in the 2018 anti-Ortega protests.

Chamorro, arrested in June 2021 when she was leading the polls against Ortega, has been convicted of money laundering alongside her brother Pedro Joaquín Chamorro. They are both children of former President Violeta Barrios, who defeated Ortega in the 1990 elections, and national hero Pedro Joaquin Chamorro Cardenal, a prominent journalist assassinated by the Somoza dictatorship in 1978.

The former candidate headed the foundation named after her mother and worked on freedom of expression and press freedom issues. According to the prosecution, she received money from abroad to destabilize the government.

She has been under house arrest since June while her brother is being held at a Managua jailhouse.

Categories: Politics, Latin America.

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