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Praise for Nicaragua's Political Prisoners and their Helpers

(FILE) Rolando Alvarez, bishop of Matagalpa before being imprisoned in Nicaragua.

Not all who tried to safeguard the freedom of their fellow citizens were able, or willing, to leave Nicaragua.

Praise for Nicaragua's Political Prisoners and Their Helpers
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Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently held an event at the State Department thanking the diplomats, other government workers, and volunteers who made it possible for the 222 political prisoners released by Nicaragua’s Ortega regime in February to start their new life in the United States.

“That work began in large part with our colleagues in Embassy Managua who negotiated with the Nicaraguan government,” said Secretary Blinken; later, hundreds of government colleagues, NGOs, and volunteers took over:

“You provided them with food, with clothing, with healthcare. You helped them through the jarring process of starting a new life from their homes and their communities.”

Secretary Blinken noted that the 222 Nicaraguan prisoners - doctors, political leaders, priests and others – were connected by “one overriding aspiration:”

“To simply exercise their fundamental freedoms and to try to safeguard the freedom of their fellow citizens. Tragically, in Ortega’s Nicaragua, that’s a crime.”

Also, tragically, not all who tried to safeguard the freedom of their fellow citizens were able, or willing, to leave Nicaragua that February day. One notable example is the bishop of Matagalpa Rolando Alvarez, one of the country’s most vocal Catholic leaders who ran afoul of Ortega by advocating for human rights. Under house arrest since August, Alvarez refused to leave Nicaragua on the plane. The next day, he was taken to La Modelo prison and is serving a 26-year sentence for treason.

In March, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights called on the Ortega regime to release Bishop Alvarez and dozens of other political prisoners still held in Nicaragua.

The United States has repeatedly made the same demand.

As Secretary of State Blinken said, “We will join our partners across the hemisphere and around the world to continue to push for a return to democracy and respect for human rights in Nicaragua, while also using all of the diplomatic and economic tools that we have to promoted accountability for the widespread abuses from the regime.”