San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Nicaragua priest Cardenal: 'I'm ready to go to jail'


Revolutionary Nicaraguan priest Ernesto Cardenal charged Thursday that President Daniel Ortega handed down a sentence to a judge that convicts him of defamation in a “political sentence without any legal basis.”
“It’s simply revenge for Ortega,” said Cardenal, an 83-year-old Sandinista priest whose poetry earned him a recent Nobel nomination.
In a press conference at the Nicaraguan Human Rights Center in Managua, Cardenal alleged that Ortega is using his sway in the Sandinista-dominated judicial branch to prosecute Cardenal, a priest and poet who strayed from the Sandinista party ranks in the 1990s after serving as Ortega’s culture minister in the 1980s
Ortega has not commented on the case. But Sandinista judge David Rojas, who ruled against Cardenal, has denied to local press that the sentence was at all political.
After being dismissed years ago, defamation charges filed against Cardenal in an ongoing land dispute were suddenly taken up again – just a week after the white-haired priest/poet’s comments in Paraguay, accusing Ortega of trying to reestablish a dictator dynasty akin to that of the Somoza family.
“In this system now in Nicaragua, anything’s possible. I’m ready to go to jail,” said the beret-donning priest.

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