U.S. Condemns Nicaraguan Dictator's Attacks on Church
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The Biden administration expressed strong condemnation on Wednesday for Nicaraguan dictator Daniel Ortega's recent attempts to discredit the Catholic Church by accusing it of involvement in an illegal money laundering scheme.
The U.S. has condemned attacks against the Catholic Church in Nicaragua.
John Kirby, the National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications, deemed these attacks on the Catholic Church as "unacceptable" and stated that the administration is taking action to ensure accountability.
Kirby's condemnation came in response to a question raised by Owen Jensen, the White House Correspondent for EWTN, during a press conference on May 31. Jensen highlighted the ongoing persecution of Catholics in Nicaragua under the Ortega-Murillo regime, including the recent baseless accusations of money laundering against the Catholic Church in Matagalpa.
Kirby acknowledged the deteriorating respect for democratic principles and human rights under the Ortega-Murillo regime, which includes the harassment and imprisonment of democratic leaders, political opposition members, faith leaders (including those from the Catholic Church), students, and journalists. He emphasized that such actions are unacceptable and reaffirmed the administration's condemnation. Kirby also mentioned that the U.S. has already imposed sanctions on the Ortega-Murillo regime and will continue to hold them accountable.
Over the years, the U.S. State Department has consistently levied sanctions against the Ortega regime, targeting Nicaraguan officials and state-owned companies involved in repression and anti-democratic actions. In April 2023, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced sanctions on three Nicaraguan judges responsible for stripping over 300 Nicaraguans of their citizenship. The State Department has also accused the Ortega regime of stealing the 2021 Nicaraguan election and highlighted their oppressive measures against democratic leaders, potential presidential candidates, journalists, students, and civil society members.
Despite these actions by the Biden administration, the situation in Nicaragua has continued to worsen for both ordinary citizens and the Catholic Church. In May 2023, the Ortega regime announced the "voluntary dissolution" of Immaculate Conception Catholic University, a seminary for the Archdiocese of Managua. Additionally, Bishop Rolando Alvarez Lagos of the Diocese of Matagalpa was sentenced to 26 years and four months in prison on charges of being a "traitor to the homeland." The same diocese is now being targeted by the regime with accusations of money laundering, even though it has been under police intervention for the past six months.
Felix Maradiaga, a former presidential candidate and human rights defender, called the regime's accusations against the Diocese of Matagalpa "Orwellian" and stated that the police's claims of finding illicit money are impossible due to the ongoing police intervention in the diocese.
The Biden administration remains committed to holding the Ortega-Murillo regime accountable for its actions and ensuring the protection of human rights and democratic principles in Nicaragua.
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