Date:  February 18, 2023 

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? (Romans 8:35)

Nicaragua has been experiencing a crackdown since 2018, which escalated dramatically through 2022. Religious leaders have been increasingly targeted as part of the government’s attempt to silence all independent or critical voices.

Pray especially for Bishop Rolando Álvarez Lagos, who has just received a shocking sentence of more than 26 years in prison. Meanwhile over 200 political prisoners, including several Christians, were released from prison, but deported to the US and stripped of their citizenship – which violates international law.

Pray that they would all take courage from Romans 8: that nothing and no one can separate them from God’s love.

Pray for Bishop Álvarez

Bishop Álvarez was one of 12 people who were forcibly confined in the Diocese of Matagalpa curia last August. After 15 days, security forces stormed the curia. Seven were taken to maximum security prison, while Bishop Álvarez was placed under house arrest.

Then on 9 February, the Nicaraguan government released 222 political prisoners into exile – including seven of the men who had been confined in the curia with the bishop. Yet Bishop Álvarez was not one of them. 

Despite pressure from the government, Bishop Álvarez refused to be expelled from the country and was moved to La Modelo Tipitapa prison. The next day, he was sentenced to over 26 years in prison on unfounded charges of conspiracy and spreading false information.

‘It is clear from the timing and severity of the sentence that the treatment of Bishop Álvarez is in direct retaliation for his refusal to leave Nicaragua.’ – Anna Lee Stangl, CSW Head of Advocacy

The choice of remaining unjustly imprisoned or being released into forced exile is a choice no one should be forced to make. However, we can give thanks that the seven men who had been arrested alongside Bishop Álvarez in August and other religious leaders like Protestant Pastor Wilber Alberto Pérez are no longer imprisoned in facilities described by Nicaraguan human rights activists as ‘torture centres’.

In summary, please pray:

  • For the immediate, unconditional release of Bishop Álvarez, and all other political prisoners in Nicaragua.
  • Giving thanks for courageous Nicaraguans like Bishop Álvarez, who refuse to stay silent in the face of corruption and rampant human rights violations.
  • For the 222 political prisoners who have been released into exile. Pray for provision, comfort and wisdom as they adjust to an unfamiliar land and navigate an uncertain future.
  • For their families, who were reportedly not informed before their loved ones were removed to the US.
  • That the international community will hold President Ortega and his regime to account for its continued crackdown on independent voices.