The regime of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo held this past weekend marches in homage to the canonization of Monsignor Oscar Arnulfo Romero, celebrated this past Sunday by Pope Francis. They sought to “manipulate his image” while in the country “they continue promote a campaign of hate” against Nicaraguan bishops, noted sociologist and former Minister of Education, Humberto Belli.
“Now they are trying to manipulate a figure that is rather an eloquent symbol against tyranny and oppression. Trying to turn it to their advantage is a Machiavellian-Orwellian strategy that the Government (of Ortega and Murillo) always use,” he explained.
Belli believes the double discourse of the Nicaraguan regime is part of their strategy because on the one hand they want to show closeness to the Salvadorian martyr’s legacy, and on the other they “have beaten the bishops, raided temples, interrupted masses and continue a hostile discourse against the Catholic Church.”
“When due to their negligence the “Indio Maiz” Reserve burned, they marched to celebrate the “good” that the government had done. When they have killed, they march to reclaim the rights of the supposed victims and now they are trying to manipulate the figure of Monsignor Romero with this march,” explained the sociologist.
A Martyr who Denounced the Repression
The Government is contradictory, because, although it carries out its own march, it forbids the freedom of mobilization of the rest of Nicaraguan citizens, stated the educator and member of the Blue and White National Unity coalition, Carlos Tunnermann.
The also member of the Civic Alliance insisted that “it is paradoxical that a government that is practicing repression will also want to pay homage to someone who was killed for demanding precisely the end of the repression.”
“In the name of God, and in the name of this suffering people whose cries go to heaven every day more tumultuously, I implore you, I beg you, I order you in the name of God: cease the repression…!”, stated Romero in his last homily, a day before he was killed by a death squad on March 24, 1980, while he was saying mass at the chapel of the Divine Mercy San Salvador cancer hospital.
Romero was characterized for constantly denouncing in his homilies the attacks of the security forces against the civilian population and other violations of human rights.
Belli pointed out that Romero’s legacy is precisely the struggle “against oppression and injustice.”
“His legacy is a reminder that the church is against the unjust powers on Earth. What has happened in Nicaragua is a kind of replica, where absolute power has decided to persecute the bishops and the church for maintaining Christ’s legacy and that Monsignor Romero professed,” he said.
The Struggle of the Church
“Homage will be paid to his legacy of justice and affirmation of peace. Oscar Arnulfo Romero, Saint Romero of America, pastor full of love of God, is the heritage of the people who travel the path of faith,” expressed Murillo when announcing the marches that are taking place in Managua and other cities, while self-convoked citizens of the Blue and White Movement called to march against the regime she presides over with Ortega.
“(Monsignor Romero) belongs to all the people who walk with faith, with hope and with confidence in God that justice, the kingdom of God on Earth must come closer,” Murillo insisted.
This Saturday Ortega and Murillo participated in a rally in honor of Romero in which they took the opportunity to attack self-convoked citizens who planned a march on Sunday.
“They live kneeling in front of the Yankee begging for more funds to harm the Nicaraguan people and to organize marches to bathe the people in blood,” Ortega said in his speech.
Brenes asks for Romero’s intercession
The Archbishop of Managua, Leopoldo Brenes, asked the Salvadoran Saint to “intercede” for Nicaragua, which is experiencing a serious socio-political crisis since April 18th.
“May (Romero) intercede for all the Central American countries, for his beloved homeland, as is El Salvador, but without a doubt, for us also at this moment, so that we can discover those paths, not of violence, not of confrontation, not of bullets, but from the dialogue,” said Brenes.
He explained that the Salvadoran religious man “in his preaching from the gospel called to set aside arms, to set aside all acts of violence out of respect for people.”
“He was a humble and simple priest, a man very close to the simple and humble,” he said referring to the figure of Romero, recognized for being a special person very close to the poor and a staunch defender of human rights.
The Archbishop, who insisted on the “example to follow” that the martyr represents for members of the Catholic Church, urged the priests of Latin America to “leave everything, carry the cross and follow him (Romero).”
A brutal attack on the Bishops
On July 19th, Ortega accused the bishops of the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua (CEN) of promoting a “coup d’état” against him after being asked to democratize the country through a reengineering of the political system, which includes early elections.
“I thought they were mediators, but no, they were committed to the coup mongers. They were part of the plan of the coup leaders,” said Ortega during the July 19th celebration.
Ten days before the thugs and paramilitaries of the Ortega regime assaulted the bishops of the Catholic Church, who traveled to Diriamba to mediate in the attacks perpetrated in that city.
The Auxiliary Bishop of Managua, Monsignor Silvio Baez, was wounded in the right arm with a blade. “Thank God we were able to reach Diriamba and take out the people who were in the basilica as hostages. What we have suffered is nothing compared to what most Nicaraguans have been victims of,” Baez said.
On the same day Ortega followers looted the Santiago Parrish Church of Jinotepe, where a medical post was located to attend wounded citizens during the protests in that city.
The priests and bishops have denounced constant threats by the Ortega regime. One of them is the priest Edwin Roman who denounced that he was attacked by then Masaya Police Chief Ramon Avellan, newly appointed Deputy Director of the National Police, who accompanied by several riot police and Sandinista supporters set up in front of his Church with a high-volume speaker at the time mass was been celebrated.