Marcela fled the Sandinista persecution together with her husband and two children aged 2 years and 8 months, leaving relatives in Nicaragua who have spent time in prison and who continue to be threatened by the liberticidal and anti-religious harassment of the Daniel Ortega regime.
This woman, a refugee in Spain since 2018, lives in the distance the suffering of the people of Nicaragua at the hands of the Sandinista dictatorship, but she has suffered it in her own flesh and in that of her family.
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Marcela, who has given birth to her third child in Spain, emphasizes that the persecution of the Church by Sandinismo responds to the fact that “He has always been a companion of the people. It is a poor Church that lives the reality of the people”.
In what directly affected her, Marcela remembers: “We couldn’t enter our parish, because they had it surrounded.”
“We are experiencing a frightful persecution against the Church,” he stresses, also remembering one of the imprisoned priests, Fr. Ramiro, the uncle of a friend of his who was also exiled in another American country.
“So far we got. They’re going to make us disappear.”
Thus, they decided to escape: “They were watching us, we couldn’t live like this. I said goodbye without anyone, just a few close friends. She, with her two children and her husband, prepared to cross the border as tourists on their way to Costa Rica.
Of all the passengers on the bus, her husband had to be searched and held for 40 minutes. “So far we come. we are going to disappear”, thought Marcela, who affirms that she prayed during all that time with confidence.
“Finally, the hand of God made us pass through that desert”, he recalls. She also does not forget the enormous imprint that the violence has left on her eldest son. He was then only two years old and, during the exile trip to Spain, he repeated every time he met an agent: “The police kill.”
“You have to resist”
Marcela’s father still remains with his wife and five school and university children in Nicaragua taking care of a grandmother and a sick aunt.
She has decided not to leave the country because, explains Marcela, who is the eldest of her children, her father thinks that “we have already passed the hardest and there are people who have to resist. You have to give your life”. And that, due to pressure, he has been forced to close his company.
“To keep the company or the job, you have to give perks to the government, Marcela points out.
This position is even more relevant, if one takes into account that his father was a militant in Sandinismo decades ago until he underwent a religious conversion after an existential crisis.
Since then they have demonstrated together with their compatriots against the injustices of the regime. “An uncle of mine is a refugee in Guatemala because he refused to beat people and his father-in-law was threatened with death by members of the Citizen Security Council,” explains Marcela.
“Two sisters of an aunt of mine were put in jail for contempt of authority for three or four months.” “They shot near our house.” “They had identified our car.” Marcela hastily narrates, one after another, various details about the situation that led her to make the painful decision to flee her country.
On May 30, 2018, the day of the historic civic march that the regime of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo decided to turn into a bloodbath, the whole family participated. “We went out in my dad’s truck and the motorists passed by. As soon as we saw them, we knew they were going to kill,” explains Marcela. So, they decided to turn around, to avoid what would later be the sniper shots at the crowd that was taking refuge in the Managua Cathedral.
The Pontifical Foundation Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) in Spain has organized this Saturday the 27th a prayer vigil led by the Nicaraguan community of the San Valero parish in Zaragoza.
🔴 Don’t miss this event in #Zaragoza!
🙏 Prayer Vigil for Nicaragua
🗓️ Saturday, August 27 from 8:45 p.m. to 9:45 p.m.
San Valero Parish. c/ Unceta, 18
In collaboration with the parish and its group of Nicaraguans 🇳🇮
Join in #prayer for them! pic.twitter.com/QqLsEJPx6f
– Help the Church in Need (@AyudaIglesNeces) August 22, 2022
Marcela will be one of the people who will intervene on your behalf. As detailed to ACI Prensa by the ACN delegate in Zaragoza, Patricia Aliaga, the vigil will begin with a procession presided over by the Immaculate Virgin, patron saint of Nicaragua, in which images of the kidnapped priests will also be carried.
The structure of the vigil aims to reflect three dimensions of the Catholic Church in Nicaragua: the prophetic, the persecuted and the pilgrim. To illustrate the prophetic dimension, a video of the Auxiliary Bishop of Managua, Monsignor Silvio Báez, exiled for three years, will be shown.
Next, the situation of the persecuted Church will be illustrated with the testimonies of Marcela and Francis, another Nicaraguan refugee in Spain.
The third part of the event will include an exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, a meditation on the beatitudes by the parish priest, Fr. Alfonso Palos, and the raising of some petitions.
After the solemn blessing and the reservation of the Holy Eucharist, a video summary of the pastoral work of the Bishop of Matagalpa, Mons. Rolando Álvarez, from his beginnings as a priest until his recent kidnapping by the communist regime of Nicaragua, will be shown.
Situation of the Church in Nicaragua
The persecution of the Catholic Church in Nicaragua has been increasing for years. Not in vain, the bishops warned of the dictatorial drift of the Ortega government as early as 2014. And, as of 2018, the use of indiscriminate force has been a regular currency on the part of the government.
Due to the support of the Catholic Church for the citizen movements in opposition to the regime during the 2018 mobilizations, the pressure on bishops, priests and lay faithful increased.
The clearest example is that the former Auxiliary Bishop of Managua, Msgr. Silvio Báez, lives in exile in the United States after it became known that Sandinista Daniel Ortega had ordered his assassination.
Also the Apostolic Nuncio in Nicaragua, Bishop Waldemar Stanislaw Sommertag, was expelled from the country in March 2022, a circumstance that was received from the Vatican with “surprise and pain”.
“It is incomprehensible since, during his mission, HE Bishop Sommertag has worked tirelessly for the good of the Church and the Nicaraguan people,” the Holy See said in a statement.
The Vatican especially highlighted the Nuncio’s work “for the most vulnerable, always seeking to promote good relations between the Apostolic See and the Nicaraguan authorities.”
In the month of July, a community of the Missionaries of Charity, founded by Saint Teresa of Calcutta, was also expelled.
Bishop Álvarez was imprisoned in the bishopric of Matagalpa under de facto house arrest, without trial, together with five priests, three seminarians and three lay people since the beginning of August. A few days earlier, the Sandinista regime closed down the country’s Catholic radio stations by force.
Since last Sunday, August 14, five Nicaraguan priests have been harassed by police, one of them was arrested and EWTN News was able to confirm on August 17 that two others have been transferred from their parish to prevent them from being taken by the authorities to the service. of Ortega and Murillo.
In the early hours of August 19, the Police broke into the Bishopric and forcibly transferred the Bishop and his companions to Managua, in a kidnapping encouraged by the Government.
On August 21, Pope Francis made an appeal about the situation in Nicaragua: “I closely follow with concern and pain the situation that has been created in Nicaragua, which involves people and institutions. I would like to express my conviction and my hope that through an open and sincere dialogue the foundations for a respectful and peaceful coexistence can still be found”.
On August 24, the government of Daniel Ortega closed down a new Catholic radio station in the Diocese of Estelí, after 28 years broadcasting in the country.