• Wide Angle: The Front of Moderate Leaders Advancing in Latin America
  • The portrait of Monsignor Rolando Álvarez: the tenacity of the Nicaraguan 'Mandela'

The government of Daniel Ortega, for the second time since he was imprisoned, has exhibited Monsignor Rolando Álvarez in "preferential conditions of confinement, as can be seen in the video and photographs," the Interior Ministry said in a public note. Sitting at a table crammed with food prepared for the occasion and at different times with his brothers, the Sandinista dictatorship built a new prison setup that is radically different from reality, as human rights organizations and the Nicaraguan democratic opposition have repeatedly denounced.

"The regime of medical consultations, family visits, sending and receiving packages is strictly complied with, contrary to what slanderous campaigns would have you believe," the government insisted.

The rebel bishop, who has refused on at least two occasions to be exiled to the United States and Rome, turned 57 on Monday as the symbol of resistance in the Central American country, the Mandela of Nicaraguans. Since he was arrested and imprisoned 15 months ago, Rolando Álvarez has remained steadfast in his defiance of the dictatorship. The priest is sentenced to 26 years in prison for treason.

"Let the dictatorship not believe that with their cynical language and with photos and videos of dubious authenticity they are going to justify their crime and they are going to silence us. Monsignor Rolando Álvarez is innocent and we will continue to shout this injustice to the world. He must be released immediately and unconditionally!" the auxiliary archbishop of Managua, Silvio José Báez, responded from his exile.

On this occasion, the dictatorship did not allow the bishop to testify before Sandinista television, but his serious face, without a hint of connivance, airs his discomfort with the new television montage. The bishop has lost several kilos since the last known images, in a similar montage carried out in March at the insistence of the international community on obtaining a certificate of life.

"Monsignor Rolando Álvarez looks emaciated in prison in the propaganda images released by the dictatorship, in which he does not have the right to express himself freely," concluded journalist Carlos Fernando Chamorro.

  • Nicaragua