Nicaraguan police ban religious processions in the capital

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Nicaraguan police have banned a religious procession scheduled for Saturday in the capital, the latest sign of tensions between the government and the Roman Catholic Church.

The Archdiocese of Managua urged worshipers to come directly and peacefully to the cathedral on Saturday “to pray for the church and for Nicaragua.”

“The National Police informed us that for internal security reasons, the procession is scheduled for 7 a.m. this August 13, an activity scheduled on the occasion of the Marian Congress and conclusion of the pilgrimage of the image of Our Lady of Fatima in the national territory, is not allowed,” the archdiocese said in a statement.

On August 1, the government announced that the Bishop of Matagalpa, Rolando Álvarez, was under investigation for allegedly promoting hatred and inciting violence. He said he would not be allowed to leave the church compound which includes his residence while the investigation continues. The police kept the compound surrounded.

Álvarez has been a vocal critic of President Daniel Ortega’s government.

Previously, the government had closed seven radio stations belonging to the Catholic Church in the province of Matagalpa.

Police have not allowed large public gatherings except those sponsored by the government or the ruling Sandinista National Liberation Front party since September 2018. Earlier that year, in April, d huge street protests have become a call for Ortega’s resignation.

Ortega maintained that it was a coup attempt carried out with foreign backing and church backing. Since then, his government has stood up to dissenting voices, including political opposition leaders and more than 1,000 non-governmental organizations.

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