The Catholic Church of Nicaragua today canceled its traditional procession on January 1 for security reasons, in the midst of a sociopolitical crisis that has left hundreds dead since April and almost two months after the last street mobilization, prohibited by the National Police.
The Catholics did not march, but they attended massively the prayer with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and later solemn mass in the cathedral of Managua, on the occasion of the World Day for Peace.
Dozens of heavily armed riot police were deployed in the area of the procession, including around the cathedral, despite the fact that Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes and the auxiliary bishop of Managua, Silvio Báez, announced the cancellation of the same.
"We in Nicaragua are called to be true artisans of peace," Brenes said, before the crowd, a day after the Government of Nicaragua, which the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has accused of committing crimes against humanity. humanity "in the framework of the protests against President Daniel Ortega, issued a message of harmony.
The Catholic event, which lasted more than two hours, was based on the views of Pope Francis in his most recent message, entitled "Good politics is at the service of peace", which Brenes recommended reading "to those who make politics in "Nicaragua, with the promise that it is not an extensive text.
Decked out in the national flag of Nicaragua, which has been the cause of jail amid the protests against Ortega, the Catholics prayed for peace, justice, the victims of the crisis and the overcoming of it.
A ceremony similar to that of Managua was held by Catholics in the city of Matagalpa, where believers challenged the police, carrying out a spontaneous procession through the streets, which passed without incident.
The atmosphere in Nicaragua remained tense due to the large police presence in the main cities of the country, especially in the department (province) of Jinotega, to the north, where the Police confirmed the death of 4 men in a shooting that took place on December 30. , in which the supposed head of "parastatal" armed groups, Luis Antonio Rizo, and three other men perished.
At the international level, the president of Iran, Hassan Rouhani, invited his Nicaraguan counterpart, Daniel Ortega, to work "for the development of peace based on justice."
The Episcopate and Ortega remain in conflict because the Church has proposed to the president the advance of the elections of 2021 as a peaceful way to resolve the crisis, which began last April.
On December 4, the president accused "some" bishops of the Nicaraguan Bishops' Conference of being part of "the coup forces" and of "cheerfully joining the terrorist and criminal coup" that, in his opinion, tried to overthrow him during the protests started last April.
The crisis in Nicaragua has left, according to humanitarian agencies, between 325 and 545 deaths, or 199, according to government data.
The agencies count hundreds of disappeared and 674 "political prisoners", while the Government admits 340 prisoners, whom it calls "terrorists", "coup" and "common criminals". The crisis also adds thousands of wounded and tens of thousands of Nicaraguans in exile.
Nicaragua is a country of 6.3 million inhabitants, of which 58.5 percent consider themselves Catholic.
The protests against Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, began on April 18, after 11 years of continuous government, for failed social security reforms and became a demand for resignation, following the death toll of the demonstrations