Christian Solidarity Worldwide, 15 May 2023
Over the past five years, President Daniel Ortega has cracked down on all critical voices as he consolidates power.
Religious leaders, especially those the government views as critical of its actions, have been a particular target. One of them told CSW that even preaching about unity or justice, for example, can be considered criticism of the government and therefore treated as a crime.
Several religious leaders were among the 222 political prisoners removed from prison on 9 February – but stripped of their citizenship and expelled to the United States.
Then on 15 February a further 94 political prisoners, including nine religious leaders, had their citizenship removed; most were already in exile. Others, like Bishop Ronaldo Alvarez, remain unjustly imprisoned in Nicaragua.
Among those expelled from Nicaragua was Pastor Wilber Alberto Pérez – a Protestant pastor who was falsely convicted of selling illegal drugs. In reality, he was targeted for promoting the campaign ‘Christmas without political prisoners’ in 2020, and was held for a prolonged period in solitary confinement with no natural light.