“Servants of Satan:” Rosario Murillo's Hate Speech Against the Catholic Church

The dictatorship's spokeswoman calls priests “demons,” while she keeps silent or denies surveillance, persecution, imprisonment, banishment, and exile

discurso de odio de Rosario Murillo contra la Iglesia católica en Nicaragua

Ilustración: Confidencial

23 de enero 2024


She talks – she talks, and hurls insults. She mentions God, and at the same time attacks the Catholic Church, Pope Francis, and his bishops and priests. Her monologues are full of the words “love” or “peace,” but she feeds hatred and violence. In the last 45 days, the vice president and spokeswoman of the Ortega dictatorship, Rosario Murillo, issued 30 radio and television speeches in which – in at least seven of them – she directly attacked the Catholic Church of Nicaragua and its priests.

Three days after the banishment, on January 16, Murillo briefly referred to the event in a new monologue: “In this Nicaragua, hatred has been banished.... Thank God! It has been banished, and evil and perversion are far away, where they belong,” she said. 

In her midday monologues, Murillo calls the religious “servants of Satan,” and “representatives of the devil.” She describes them as “devils,” “demons,” “blasphemers” or “false representatives of God,” among other insults. 

Rosario Murillo’s message of hatred towards the religious is accompanied by alleged calls for “peace, love and true Christianity,” while repeatedly disqualifying the leaders of the Catholic Church in Nicaragua.   

“How can we believe that they can be representatives of God on Earth? Because God is good and merciful (...) and the expressions of some [religious] that we see, with the familiar faces of destruction, of demolition, and above all of farce, deceit, and fraud, is not the face of Jesus and is not the face of God,” said the spokeswoman in her speech on January 2, 2024.

The vice president also denies that there is persecution against the Catholic Church in Nicaragua, while the facts show that repression has intensified, with surveillance in parishes, persecution and imprisonment of bishops, priests, and seminarians, as well as their banishment and forced exile.

“It is false that there is religious persecution. If a priest is arrested, there must be a reason. That is not religious persecution,” she said on January 4, reading the poem “Of Paranoia Without Metanoia,” published that same day in the official government media El 19 Digital, with the signature of an unknown “brother Edwin Moncada.” 

Monologues mention God and love but proclaim hatred

CONFIDENCIAL analyzed 30 of Rosario Murillo’s monologues, broadcasted from Monday to Friday, at noon, between December 1, 2023, and January 15, 2024, and coincided with the last massive raid to imprison 17 religious (one bishop, thirteen priests, and three seminarians), who were finally banished on Sunday, January 14, together with Bishop Rolando Alvarez, arrested under fabricated crimes in mid-August 2022. 

In each of her speeches, Murillo used the name “God” 257 times, repeated the word “peace” 122 times, spoke of “love” another 102 times, of “Christ” or “Christianity” on 48 occasions, and referred to the “hatred” of those who oppose her dictatorship another 29 times. 

“There really was a perversion, malignity, here was the devil's cauldron, and we know where they were. And then, what cynicism! It was necessary to perform the exorcism for those who in all of Nicaragua had worked with Christian love, with Christian fervor, with faith and hope,” Murillo claimed on December 27.

Murillo's claims and accusations are tacitly directed at the exiled priests, such as the auxiliary bishop of Managua, Monsignor Silvio Báez. She even alludes to Pope Francis, who in the first days of January 2024 reiterated his concern for the bishops and priests who were then still imprisoned in Nicaragua. 

“There are those who believe that, dressed in false sanctity, they will continue to deceive. Holiness is a serious thing and truly, how difficult it is to attain it..... How difficult! That is why I say, false sanctity, false love, false so-called pious preaching. Political agents, that is what they are, and of the worst politics,” Murillo said on January 10.

Rosario Murillo: “Priests are servants of Satan”

In the seven speeches that Murillo dedicated to priests in the last 45 days, she attempted to manipulate public opinion about government actions. She portrays her government and representatives as victors against “attempted coups” and claims that they are tolerant of dissent, although the country has been under a de facto police state since the end of September 2018, and even religious processions are banned. 

The Nicaraguan Catholic Church played a leading role during the April Rebellion of 2018, interceding for the release of political prisoners and as mediators and witnesses in the two failed attempts at national dialogue. But in the years since, its priests have been persecuted, besieged, imprisoned, forced into exile, or banished.

According to Murillo, during the 2018 protests, priests lent temples to call citizens to protest. “How can we believe anything said by the representatives of the devil? How could they dare to blaspheme? Because it is blasphemy, and sacrilege to alter the order of things and to do it in the name of God. Many of us were losing faith, and above all, in those who proclaimed themselves “intercessors”, and “intermediaries,” she pointed out on December 12, 2023, in another of her monologues.

On that occasion, she recalled: “Today we celebrate, we honor, we praise, the Little Mother of America, the Morenita del Tepeyac, Our Lady of Guadalupe,” Murillo also warned: “How are we going to forget those who now from outside continue, uselessly, radiating hatred? Because it is nothing more than hatred, hatred, dark hatred, terrorist hatred. And how they tarnish the sacred ornaments, proclaiming hatred…”

Manipulation of the discourse to hide almost 800 aggressions

Under Murillo's perspective, “the real devils are those who were sowing hatred and speaking in the name of Christ.... How incredible!”

After the last arrests of priests, on January 3, 2024, Murillo justified that the religious got what they deserved because “we receive the fruits of what we sow. Hatred, cruelty, ill will, is also paid for,” she assured. The Police at her service never confirmed the arrest and whereabouts of the religious kidnapped at the end of December and banished on January 13. The news only circulated the following day.

The denunciations and claims of the exiled priests increased after the last raid, and Pope Francis also publicly reiterated his concern.

In the same monologue, Murillo responded: “I am absolutely certain that God does not ordain evil people, much less for them to pretend to give lessons in morality or ethics. How can those who have proclaimed evil and have blessed murders, crimes, hate crimes, give lessons in morals?”

The year 2023 was ranked as the most hostile year against the Catholic Church in Nicaragua, with 307 aggressions, as registered by lawyer Martha Patricia Molina, author of the report Nicaragua, a persecuted Church? In addition, for the second consecutive year, the United States included Nicaragua in the list of countries without respect for religious freedom.

“The central objective of the Ortega-Murillo dictatorship is to annihilate the Catholic Church in Nicaragua, that is, to disappear it, so that no trace of it remains,” Molina said in an interview with the program Esta Noche, broadcast on January 10, 2024, via YouTube and Facebook Live. Molina counts 769 aggressions in the last five years, almost half of them occurred in 2023.

Rosario Murillo's hate speech and repression

Hateful speeches are a common practice of the dictatorship and always precede repression. One of the first groups to be targeted by Murillo's hate speech was the “autoconvocados,” the Nicaraguans who self-convened in 2018 and took to the streets to protest against the regime.  

The same day that the first citizen protests emerged, Murillo gave a speech and began a list of hateful labels. Thus the self-convened or “blue and white” Nicaraguans who protested were described as “coup-plotters,” “termites,”  and “traitors against the homeland.” The hatred promoted by the monologues materialized in persecution, jail, exile, and death.

Between April and September 2018, more than 300 Nicaraguans were killed in Police and paramilitary attacks. In addition, thousands were injured and tens of thousands had to leave the country due to political persecution. The repressive message escalated to the point that now it is the dictatorship that decides who is or is not Nicaraguan, or who enters or does not enter Nicaragua.

Daniel Ortega has also promoted such hate speech, connecting mentions of god to the actions of his dictatorship, which he has previously identified as “Christian and socialist.” 

On February 9, 2023, during the public appearance in which he confirmed the banishment and denationalization of 222 political prisoners, Ortega said, “Thanks to God the miracle occurred. We have recovered the peace we are enjoying. Now that the coup perpetrators, the mercenaries, have left, we breathe peace, thanks to God.”  

The non-profit organizations were also accused of financing the self-convened demonstrators in the official speeches. “The traitors to the homeland did not disappear, but in addition, they are being fed by the empire, they send them resources through programs that say they are programs to promote culture, education,” but “they are programs to promote hate,” Ortega accused in October 2019, a year before the massive closures of NGOs began, which to date total more than 3500.

In her speeches, Rosario Murillo also tries to manipulate contradictions in her favor: “The most ridiculous and most amusing thing is that there are those who with diabolical words, feelings and thoughts speak of faith,” she said on December 27, ignoring the manipulation in her monologues. And trying to impose her discourse on the massacre of the dictatorship, she added: “The real devils are those who rang the bells to command the killing of our people..” 

This article was published in Spanish in Confidencial and translated by our staff. To get the most relevant news from our English coverage delivered straight to your inbox, subscribe to The Dispatch.


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Redacción Confidencial

Confidencial es un diario digital nicaragüense, de formato multimedia, fundado por Carlos F. Chamorro en junio de 1996. Inició como un semanario impreso y hoy es un medio de referencia regional con información, análisis, entrevistas, perfiles, reportajes e investigaciones sobre Nicaragua, informando desde el exilio por la persecución política de la dictadura de Daniel Ortega y Rosario Murillo.


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