By Eduardo Berdejo
A Catholic priest was arrested and taken into custody on Oct. 13 in the Nicaraguan capital of Managua, an exiled priest shared in a Twitter post demanding the end to the persecution of the Church waged by the government of President Daniel Ortega.
The arrest of Father Enrique Martínez Gamboa, the latest Catholic priest to be detained, amounted to a kidnapping, said Father Uriel Vallejos, who has been in exile in Italy since September.
“Yesterday at 5:00 pm, the parish priest of St. Martha’s Church in Managua was kidnapped. Father Enrique Martínez G. The priests and the Catholic Church demand the liberation and the cessation of the persecution against the Church and the clergy. Justice, freedom and democracy! ” Vallejos posted on his account.
The human rights organization “Nicaragua Nunca Más” stated on its Twitter account that it is not known where Martínez is being held.
According to the organization, “with this arbitrary arrest, the number of priests deprived of their liberty rises to 11, including Monsignor [Bishop] Rolando Álvarez, who has been illegally under ‘house arrest’ for 72 days.”
“The religious persecution against the Catholic Church by the Ortega Murillo regime continues,” the group stated, referring to President Daniel Ortega and his wife and Vice President Rosario Murillo.
In another Twitter post, the organization demanded “the end of repression, the freedom of the priests and of the more than 219 political prisoners in Nicaragua.”
Other priests held at El Chipote prison, where political prisoners are tortured and unjustly detained, include Father Óscar Danilo Benavidez from the Diocese of Siuna; the rector of John Paul II University, Father Ramiro Tijerino Chávez; the vicar of the Cathedral of Matagalpa, Father José Luis Díaz Cruz; and his predecessor, Father Sadiel Antonio Eugarrios Cano.
Also at El Chipote are Deacon Raúl Antonio Vega, the seminarians Darvin Leiva Mendoza and Melkin Centeno, and the layman Sergio Cadena Flores.