Logo de Confidencial Digital




Ortega imprisons Bishop Alvarez for refusing banishment

Ortega calls the bishop a “terrorist”, “mad” and “unhinged”, and confesses that his regime still has three priests in jail

Daniel Ortega assured that the list of political prisoners for release was 228 citizens. Photo: Presidency

Iván Olivares

10 de febrero 2023


In a speech that lasted almost an hour, Daniel Ortega confirmed that the bishop of Matagalpa and administrator of the Estelí diocese, Monsignor Rolando Alvarez, was transferred to the La Modelo prison in Tipitapa, after he refused to board the plane that would take him to the United States along with 222 other political prisoners who were exiled.

On Thursday, February 9, the Biden administration chartered a plane to transport Nicaraguan political prisoners to Washington D.C. According to Ortega, the initial list was 228 people, but four of them had been rejected by the United States, while two refused to board the aircraft: Bishop Alvarez, as well as Fanor Alejandro Ramos. Both were then sent to La Modelo.

In his rambling account, Ortega said that when “the individual Alvarez” was lining up to get on the plane, “he began to say that he is not leaving. That he first had to meet with the bishops, and he demanded a meeting with the bishops. How absurd, if there is an order by the Nicaraguan State which he cannot question.

“Faced with a decision by the Nicaraguan State, he said that would not abide by it. It is a resolution of a court of justice that is sending him out of the country, and that he would not comply with it if he did not meet with the bishops, and since the other priests were already on the plane, they should call the priests, because he had to talk to them,” said Ortega.

When recalling the seven years and one month that he himself was imprisoned in the 1970s, Ortega said that the bishop (who had been incommunicado under house arrest) “had been treated in an incredible way, like no other prisoner in the history of this country,” confirming that now he sent him to the El Modelo prison, because “he is just an ordinary man.”

“What we have is arrogant behavior, from someone who considers himself the head of the Church in Nicaragua, the leader of the Latin American Church, and must think that he is in line to be the pope. He is unhinged. Now that he arrived at La Modelo, he arrived like a madman. He doesn’t have the courage of Christ, who endured the lashes and endured the crucifixion. He does not accept that they put him in a cell where there are hundreds of prisoners,” Ortega assured.

The dictator said that Alvarez “was kept in his house. Special food was made for him; There were doctors who visited him twice a day, the sisters came to cook for him… it was a mansion. He is irritated because now he is in jail. It is the rage of not abiding by the decision of the Nicaraguan authorities, of the Nicaraguan State.”

In comparison, Ortega said that eleven other priests and laymen “did not make a fuss and got on the plane,” detailing that, after that, only three priests remain in prison: “one, from Boaco, who has accusations of raping a thirteen-year-old girl (in relation to Monsignor Leonardo Urbina) (..) another, from Nandaime, for injuries and physical and psychological violence (in reference to the priest Manuel Garcia). It’s nothing political”, and “the bishop”, who is detained “for being a terrorist”.

Ortega, the surprised one

At another point in his speech, Ortega narrated that the release of political prisoners was the idea of his wife and vice president, Rosario Murillo, in negotiations with the United States ambassador to Nicaragua, Kevin Sullivan.

“Today an event occurred that I would call surprising. You must remember that on several occasions, in different public events, I had been saying that all those people who were in prison were detained for violating the sovereignty and peace of the Nicaraguan people… as all of them were agents of foreign powers… that they should take them away. Why don’t they take them away?” he asked rhetorically.

“A few days ago, the US ambassador was going to the United States, and Rosario said to me, why don’t we tell the ambassador to take these terrorists away? You tell them, let’s see if they hear it there,” Ortega said he responded to her, then narrating that his wife called Sullivan.

“I didn’t expect a positive response, besides that they must have imagined that we were going to ask that the sanctions be lifted. We are not asking for the sanctions to be lifted. We are not asking for anything in return. It is a matter of honor, dignity, patriotism. Let them take their mercenaries, as they took them after the [1961] invasion of Cuba,” he insisted.

Continuing with his narration, Ortega said that the diplomat replied that “he was going to consult, and then everything came at breakneck speed. When they asked us how many we are going to release: we said everyone. And they asked us about one person in particular: Alvarez too? Also. We don’t want any trace of those mercenaries to remain in this country.”

From there, he noted that the “Ministry of Interior and the Supreme Court” moved swiftly to have everything ready for the morning of February 9, when the plane would arrive in Managua. However, “in order not to create expectations”, we decided to do everything in silence. “We could not start talking, because if the event did not take place, we would look ridiculous,” but “they complied, and we complied too.”

He then said that the now ex-political prisoners were transferred “from San Carlos, Chinandega, Leon… from all the departments where there were (political prisoners)”, although the majority were in Managua, both in La Modelo, (Tipitapa), and in El Chipote.

Faithful to the secrecy with which the regime operates, Ortega explained that “it was an operation that had to be done with a lot of discipline, a lot of organization, any accident had to be avoided. The prisoners speculated, because they did not know where they were taking them,” and then “they were transferred to a meeting place to later concentrate them at the Air Force”, where they boarded the aircraft that took them into exile.

In the end, of the 228 political prisoners on the initial list, 222 made the flight. Monsignor Alvarez and Fanor Alejandro Ramos remained in Managua, after deciding not to make the trip. Four others – Eliseo Castro Baltodano, Walter Antonio Ruiz Rivera, Jose Manuel Urbina Lara, and Jaime Enrique Navarrete Blandon – were reportedly rejected by the US authorities, according to Ortega.

This article was originally published in Spanish in Confidencial and translated by Havana Times. 


Archivado como:


Your contribution allows us to report from exile.

The dictatorship forced us to leave Nicaragua and intends to censor us. Your financial contribution guarantees our coverage on a free, open website, without paywalls.

Iván Olivares

Iván Olivares

Periodista nicaragüense, exiliado en Costa Rica. Durante más de veinte años se ha desempeñado en CONFIDENCIAL como periodista de Economía. Antes trabajó en el semanario La Crónica, el diario La Prensa y El Nuevo Diario. Además, ha publicado en el Diario de Hoy, de El Salvador. Ha ganado en dos ocasiones el Premio a la Excelencia en Periodismo Pedro Joaquín Chamorro Cardenal, en Nicaragua.