Nicaragua’s conference of Catholic bishops is considering sending a special report to the Vatican to notify Pope Benedict XVI of the “spiraling situation” in Nicaragua, including at least three death threats against Catholic bishops in the past month, allegedly by members of the ruling Sandinista Front. Juan Abelardo Mata, Catholic bishop of Esteli and vice-president of Nicaragua’s Episcopal Conference, said he received an anonymous text-message death threat telling him not to get involved in issues that “are none of his business,” and warning “this time you won’t escape.”
Two other bishops received similar threats. Mata, an outspoken critic of the government, told The Nica Times he blames the threats on “radical Sandinistas.” The Sandinistas have denied any involvement.
Mata remains very critical of the Sandinista government’s intolerance, repression and what he calls the fraudulent municipal elections of last year.
Various Sandinista spokesman have dismissed Mata’s criticism, calling him a counterrevolutionary and an agent of the CIA.
Mata, however, has remained firm in his criticism and says the possible letter to the pope could draw more attention to Nicaragua and give “moral support” to the opposition.
As for the government’s promises of peace and reconciliation, Mata says “I don’t believe a word of that.”