Father Enrique Martínez, parish priest of Santa Martha in Managua, was arrested on October 13.
(Managua) Nicaraguan priest-in-exile Uriel Vallejos lamented the arrest of his fellow brother Enrique Martínez Gamboa by the National Police on Friday. The number of priests arrested in 2022 thus increases to a total of nine, including a bishop.
Vallejos tweeted that Martínez Gamboa, parish priest of Santa Martha in Managua, was "kidnapped" at 5:00 p.m. local time (11:00 p.m. CET) on Thursday.
"Priests and the Catholic Church are demanding his release and an end to the persecution of the Church and clergy," he added.
At the same time, he released a video showing the imprisoned priest speaking to students. The rally was attacked by police and armed militiamen, killing eight protesters. The mood was correspondingly high.
In the video, Martínez Gamboa calls on the students demonstrating against President Daniel Ortega to "don't cuddle"; "Long live Nicaragua"; "Long Live the Mothers of the Fallen of April 19, 2018"; "Long live the doctors, the decent journalists". In the video, the priest can be heard calling President Ortega and his wife, the vice president, a “murder couple” and demanding, “Get out of the palace! Out!".
The National Police have neither confirmed nor denied the arrest of the priest. The Nicaragua Nunca Más human rights organization said his whereabouts are still unknown.
In the past six months, Ortega's police have arrested a total of eight priests and Monsignor Rolando Álvarez, Bishop of Matagalpa and Apostolic Administrator of Estelí.
Two weeks ago, President Ortega, who describes himself as a “ friend ” of Pope Francis, accused the Catholic Church of being a “dictatorship” and a “perfect tyranny” whose bishops tried to stage “a coup” against his government in 2018.
The arrest of Bishop Álvarez and eight priests, including Martínez Gamboa, is the latest chapter in what has been a particularly turbulent year for Nicaragua's Catholic Church with the Ortega regime branding Catholic leaders as "coup plotters" and "terrorists".
Text: Giuseppe Nardi Image: Twitter/Pbro Uriel Vallejos (Screenshot)