Activists welcome a Nicaraguan deportee to Dulles International Airport in the US state of Virginia Activists welcome a Nicaraguan deportee to Dulles International Airport in the US state of Virginia 

Nicaragua deports detained priests, seminarians to US

Nicaragua’s civil authorities deport 222 people who were detained for political reasons, including several priests and seminarians accused of conspiring against the government.

By Vatican News

Two hundred and twenty-two imprisoned political opponents of President Daniel Ortega have been released and deported to the United States.

Among these were 5 priests, a deacon, and 2 seminarians who had been accused of conspiring against the government.

The Appeals Court of Managua confirmed the deportations in a statement which said the 222 people had been sentenced for “committing acts that undermine independence, sovereignty, and self-determination of the people, and for inciting violence, terrorism, and economic destabilization.”

Stripped of Nicaraguan citizenship

The list of those released included Frs. Óscar Benavides, Ramiro Tijerino, Sadiel Eugarrios, José Díaz, and Benito Martínez, as well as Deacon Raúl Vega and the seminarians Melkin Centeno and Darvin Leyva. Two media professionals employed by the Diocese of Matagalpa were also deported: Manuel Obando and Wilberto Astola.

The deportees were declared “traitors of the homeland” and they were stripped of their Nicaraguan citizenship.

Local sources told Vatican News that Bishop Rolando José Álvarez, the Bishop of the Diocese of Matagalpa and Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Estelí, remained in Nicaragua and could be sentenced on 15 February.

Likewise, two priests—Frs. Manuel García and José Urbina of the Diocese of Granada—remain in prison.

Nicaragua’s authorities later confirmed that Bishop Álvarez had refused to be deported, an act for which he was moved from house arrest to imprisonment in the La Modelo de Tipitapa prison.

Diplomatic efforts

US authorities credit the move to ongoing diplomatic efforts, and sanctions against key leadership figures in the current Nicaraguan Administration have been tightened.

Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega made no mention of these changes in a nationwide broadcast.

He said there had been no negotiations or talks with the United States about the matter.

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10 February 2023, 16:24