A series of photographs showing the Bishop of Matagalpa, Monsignor Rolando Jose Alvarez, during a family visit at the La Modelo prison were suddenly published on the evening of Saturday, March 25. In this way, the regime of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo responded to the demands of human rights organizations and other international bodies that requested proof of life of Alvarez, whom no one had seen since February 10th.
The images show the bishop visibly thin and pale, while he shares with his siblings, Vilma and Manuel Alvarez Lagos, in a decorated room inside the prison.
Similarly, in a video broadcast by the pro-government Channel 4, the religious leader appears eating with his siblings. Then, when asked by an interviewer how he feels, he replies: “Thank God, well, with a lot of inner strength, with a lot of peace in the Lord and the Blessed Virgin.”
The bishop was also asked by the interviewer if he has received dignified treatment in prison. He responded positively and thanked the authorities of the National Penitentiary System.
Immediately afterwards, the interviewer tells the bishop that he is glad to see him looking well and healthy, to which Alvarez responds between smiles “Ah! Good. Do I look good to you? Healthy? How does my face look?”
Human rights defender Bianca Jagger celebrated that “finally” the regime gave a proof of life for Monsignor Alvarez and allowed his relatives to visit him. “Let’s keep fighting, our efforts have not been in vain, let’s fight until we get him released,” she said.
Felix Maradiaga, a former presidential hopeful released from jail and banished on February 9th, said seeing Monsignor Alvarez “strong and with his face illuminated with dignity and courage” was a source of joy. “It is the proof of life that we have demanded so much. He is kidnapped, but his voice is stronger than ever,” he added.
The Center for Inter-American Legal Assistance in Human Rights also welcomed the fact that Monsignor Álvarez was able to meet with his relatives. However, they recalled that “the duty of the State remains to preserve his integrity, revoke the unjust sentence, release him unconditionally, and make full reparation for the damage caused”.
The last time Monsignor Alvarez was heard from was on February 10, when a court of the dictatorship summarily sentenced him to 26 years and four months in prison in a closed bogus trial. This occurred a day after Alvarez refused to board a plane that would take him to the United States along with 221 other political prisoners who were released and banished from Nicaragua.