WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas
4 Aug 2023 | WOLA Statement

Nicaragua: One year since Bishop Rolando Álvarez Lagos was imprisoned by Ortega-Murillo government

The Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) condemns the ongoing human rights violations and political crisis in Nicaragua. The attacks and repression against civil society, members of the opposition, the Church and independent press reflect the severity of undemocratic practices in Nicaragua. 

One of those who continues to be affected is Bishop Alvarez Lagos who has courageously questioned the abuses committed by the Ortega-Murillo government since 2018, when government repression intensified after a series of mass protests. 

During this time, Ortega and his wife reacted by blaming the Catholic Church of plotting a coup against them. For Bishop Álvarez, the situation escalated on August 4, 2022, when the police prevented him from leaving his house. Several days later, on August 19, he was unjustly detained.

In March 2023, 222 political prisoners were released. Many accused the government of having subjected them to serious human rights violations, including torture. Ortega subsequently stripped them of their Nicaraguan citizenship, accusing them of treason for denouncing the abuses of the dictatorship and sent them into exile in the United States Despite their release, as of June 2023, 64 individuals, including Bishop Alvarez, remain illegally detained. 

The media and human rights organizations worldwide condemn bishop Alvarez’ incarceration under deplorable conditions in the Jorge Navarro prison, known as La Modelo, one of the most inhuman in Latin America.

WOLA calls on the Ortega-Murillo government to:

  • Respect the human rights of the 64 political prisoners
  • Allow the Red Cross unrestricted access to prisoners including Bishop Alvarez, without the presence of witnesses unless agreed to by the individual. 
  • Release all political prisoners immediately and unconditionally