A total of 34 photographs and a video depicting political prisoner Monsignor Rolando Alvarez were published in a 20-page press release by the Ministry of the Interior on Tuesday, November 28. The photos show the bishop of Matagalpa during six alleged family visits in prison, along with three additional visits and one instance of medical attention.
The photos come one day after 57-year-old Bishop Alvarez spent his second birthday in prison. The publication was made through the propaganda media of the regime of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo, less than an hour and a half after the first leg of the Concacaf Central American Cup final, between Real Esteli and Liga Deportiva Alajuelense, which drew the attention of both Central American countries, closing with a 3-0 score, in favor of Costa Rica.
According to the note from the Government, "as can be seen in the video and photographs, the conditions of confinement are preferential and the regime of medical consultations, family visits and reception of packages is strictly complied with, contrary to what slanderous campaigns pretend to make believe". In the images, a perfectly decorated room is shown, with a variety of food, despite the fact that Bishop Rolando Alvarez is actually confined to a maximum security cell in La Modelo prison since February 2023, after being under siege in the Curia of Matagalpa since August 4, 2022, and being transferred to house arrest on the 19th of that same month.
More than eight months passed for them to show photos of Bishop Rolando Alvarez who looks thin and pale, although the images are of poor quality and illumination, and were printed in the press release, which was then scanned for dissemination in the official propaganda media.
The last time the dictatorship showed photos of the bishop was on Saturday, March 25, 2023. In this way, the regime of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo responded to the demands of human rights organizations and the international community that once again asked for proof of life of the religious leader. Now, the Ministry of the Interior assures that there have been several visits.
Photos of alleged family visits with his siblings
The press release shows three to four photographs of six alleged family visits to Bishop Rolando Álvarez. The photos were taken in the same room where the first photographs, released in March, were taken. The visits shown in the press release are of the bishop and his brother and sister, Vilma and Manuel, on the following dates:
- March 25
- May 13
- July 28th
- August 31st
- October 2
- November 2nd
Photos of alleged visits or medical attention in "prison"
In addition, the press release shows photographs of three medical visits and one medical appointment in which he was read the results of alleged tests made days before. These dates are:
- July 29
- July 31 (reading of results of medical exams)
- September 1st
- October 3rd
Bishop Rolando Álvarez refuses to be exiled
Monsignor Rolando Álvarez, bishop of Matagalpa and apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Estelí, is the first bishop in Nicaragua to become a political prisoner. For his prophetic voice he was persecuted since before his arrest. In May 2022 he had to take refuge in Managua after the police raided his sister's house. In retaliation they also closed the television and radio media of the two dioceses he administered.
On February 10, 2023, the justice system of the regime of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo finally sentenced him to 26 years and four months in prison in an express trial held one day after the prelate refused to board a plane that would take him to the United States along with 222 other political prisoners who were exiled. That same day he was also denationalized.
At the beginning of July 2023, the bishop was taken out of La Modelo prison as part of a supposed negotiation between the Vatican, the Government and the Nicaraguan Episcopal Conference. But almost immediately he was returned to his maximum security cell, since no agreement was reached to achieve his definitive release.
Ecclesiastical and diplomatic sources revealed to CONFIDENCIAL that a representative of the Vatican's Secretariat of Foreign Relations participated by video call in the negotiation with the Nicaraguan Government on the release and exile of Monsignor Alvarez. However, the bishop did not accept the terms imposed for his exile.