Catholic Priests Julio Ricardo Norori and Iván Centeno, both from the Diocese of Estelí, and Cristóbal Gadea, from the Diocese of Jinotega, were detained this Sunday, October 1 by men in civilian clothes in an operation ordered by Daniel Ortega's regime.
In addition, five other priests from both dioceses were forced to "drive around" in private vans, while being threatened by police and paramilitaries. "They were told that they are screwing around a lot and that if they continue like this they will meet their end," lawyer and researcher Martha Patricia Molina confirmed to CONFIDENCIAL.
Similarly, priests from other parishes in Nicaragua, including the Diocese of Leon, told Molina that they were under surveillance throughout Sunday. Plainclothesmen were in charge of photographing and recording them, the priests confided.
Three critical priests
The three priests arrested had been " straightforward in their homilies", since they always spoke about "the themes of the Gospel, above all, the injustices that are lived daily", said Molina.
Norori, a priest of the parish of San Juan del Río Coco, Madriz, completed 25 years of priestly service in May 2023 and was a teacher at the Madre Albertina Ramírez Major Seminary of the Diocese of Estelí.
Centeno is the priest of the Immaculate Conception of Mary Parish in Jalapa, Nueva Segovia. Both were taken to Our Lady of Fatima Seminary, where they are being held under a form of "house arrest". Meanwhile, the whereabouts of Father Gadea, who went to Spain in 2019 to expose the persecution of the Church in Nicaragua are unknown, indicated a source linked to the Church.
The reason for the detention of the two religious who belong to the Diocese of Estelí is unknown. The administrator of this diocese is the bishop of Matagalpa, Monsignor Rolando Álvarez, who remains imprisoned as a political prisoner and was sentenced to 26 years in prison.
The church led by priest Iván Centeno asked for "prayers for our parish and our priests" on Sunday afternoon through its Facebook account, without giving further details about the kidnapping.
Although news of the arrest of priest Erick Ramirez Velasquez, of the Cristo Rey church in Telpaneca, Madriz, circulated on social networks, the parish page denied the information. "Our parish priest Erick Ramirez is in perfect condition in the parish," they wrote on Sunday night.
Church under attack
The dictatorship of Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua held eight priests as political prisoners: three are convicted of fabricated crimes in trials without the right to defense; two are under "seminary by jail"; two are imprisoned in Managua and the exact location of another has not yet been confirmed.
Among the three convicted priests is the bishop of Matagalpa, Rolando Álvarez. The other priests with a firm sentence are: Monsignor Leonardo Urbina, from Boaco, and priest Manuel Salvador García, from Nandaime. All three were arrested in 2022.
The other imprisoned priests are Osman Amador Guillén, from the diocese of Estelí, and Jaime Iván Montecinos Sauceda from the municipality of Sébaco, Matagalpa.
In addition, priests Leonardo Guevara Gutiérrez and Eugenio Rodríguez Benavides continue being held in the seminary under "investigation".