Nicaragua shuts 7 Catholic radio stations

Catholic radio stations

The government of Nicaragua has ordered the closure of seven Catholic radio stations linked to a bishop who has been critical of the country’s president, Daniel Ortega.

Bishop Rolando Álvarez, who serves as the radio’s coordinator and leads the remote northern Matagalpa diocese, announced the closures on Monday.

Álvarez said he had received a letter from the state telecommunications agency Telcor informing him of the closures.

“All our radio stations have been closed, but they will not cancel the word of God” Álvarez said on Twitter.

The Nicaraguan telecommunications agency said the radio stations did not meet the technical requirements to be on air. However, Telcor did not specify what those requirements were.

Álvarez called the move “an injustice” and urged Telcor’s director to show the legality.

Relations between the Catholic Church and the Ortega government have deteriorated since 2018, when there were sustained protests against the president’s rule and a subsequent crackdown by the government.

Ortega has maintained that the protests in 2018 were an attempt to forcibly remove him from office with international backing. His government has systematically pursued opposition figures and organisations viewed as critics.

Bishop Álvarez has been one of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega’s most outspoken critics in the church. He has called for the release of prisoners, including political opposition leaders. Earlier this year, he went on a hunger strike to protest what he called “police persecution” against him.

Álvarez said that police had occupied the parish house in Sebaco, where one of the radio stations operated. Sebaco is about 65 miles north of the country’s capital, Managua.

The Matagalpa diocese denounced the occupation in a statement. It said the parish priest, Rev Uriel Vallejos, also a government critic, was inside the house.

Videos shared on social media showed Nicaraguan police firing tear gas and shots into the air on Monday night before taking control of the parish and the radio station.

Vallejo took refuge in the parish house and, as of Tuesday morning, was still locked inside with eight accompanying parishioners, according to a tweet sent by the priest.


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