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Nicaragua closes 256 evangelical NGOs

The government of President Ortega has seized the properties of many non-profit groups. “The persecution of evangelicals is more silent than that of Catholics”, says human rights lawyer.

FUENTES Evangélico Digital AUTOR 5/Evangelical_Focus MANAGUA 12 DE DICIEMBRE DE 2023 15:57 h
Photo: [link]Aboodi Vesakaran[/link], Unsplash CC0.

Evangelical Christians in Nicaragua are experiencing “harassment and intimidation” throughout the country, says Closing of civic space, a report carried out by the Never again human rights group.



Of the over 3,500 NGOs closed down by the government of Daniel Ortega in the last two years, 342 are religious organisations. Among these, at least 256 were evangelical associations, 43 Catholic, and another 43 were part of other  faith groups.



Most of the evangelical associations were closed in 2022 (183).



 



“Silent persecution”



Lawyer Wendy Flores, coordinator of the human rights group, said that “in Nicaragua the church is persecuted”, but there is a “more silent persecution” of evangelicals, because part of the evangelical leadership still supports the government while many others avoid denouncing the injustices of the regime of Ortega for fear of reprisals.



“The government has gradually closed the evangelical associations, taken away their permits to legally exist in the country and to receive funds from abroad”, as well as “closing their bank accounts and seizing their property”, added Flores.



However, despite the harassment and persecution, the religious activity of those groups still continues and worship services are still held in several cities in the country.



The vast majority of the Nicaraguan population identifies as Christian. According to recent data, 45% of Nicaraguans say they are evangelicals (with greater roots in the interior of the country and in rural areas) while a similar percentage identifies as Catholic.



 



Catholics imprisoned and expelled



Since the socio-political crisis started in Nicaragua in 2018, several Catholic bishops questioned the government and one of them, Monsignor Rolando Álvarez, is currently in prison, serving a 26-year sentence for "treason".



According to Nicaragua never again (which is based in Costa Rica) between 2019 and 2023 the Catholic Church experienced 1,200 cases of aggression.



In this period, dozens of nuns and priests were expelled from the country and 12 priests were arrested and sentenced to 8 to 30 years in prison.



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