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Washington, D.C. – Today, House Foreign Affairs Committee Lead Republican Michael McCaul (R-TX) was joined by Representatives Mark Green (R-TN) and Albio Sires (D-NJ) the Ranking Member and Chair of the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, Civilian Security, Migration, and International Economic Policy in issuing the following response to the arrest and detention of Bishop Rolando Álvarez and several other Catholic priests by the Nicaraguan National Police at the order of Daniel Ortega and his wife and Vice President, Rosario Murillo. Over the course of years, the Ortega-Murillo dictatorship and its accomplices have conspired to systematically crush voices of dissent at any cost. The Nicaraguan congress has ordered the closure of more than 1,000 nongovernmental organizations, including Mother Teresa’s charity, preventing aid workers from providing critical services for the 30 percent of Nicaraguans who live in poverty. This has led to the displacement of countless Nicaraguans, as well as the imprisonment or forced exile of countless political opponents of the regime, human rights advocates, educators, and aid workers.

“We condemn Daniel Ortega’s latest assault on freedom of association, religion, and conscience in the strongest possible terms. There is no excuse for the arbitrary and unlawful imprisonment of Catholic clerics. We demand that the regime immediately release Bishop Rolando Álvarez and his colleagues, as well as the nearly 200 political prisoners being held under horrific and inhumane conditions. Bishop Álvarez spoke out in favor of electoral transparency and democratic reforms, recognizing that a government’s first responsibility is to its people. He became a target of the regime for his fearless leadership on these issues, and we commend his continued work on behalf of the Nicaraguan people.

“Daniel Ortega has robbed his people of fundamental rights: choosing their elected leaders, engaging in free expression, and seeking counsel from trusted faith leaders. These actions are indefensible. We call on the Biden administration to use every tool at their disposal, including the swift and forceful application of the RENACER Act, to secure the release of all political prisoners and protect human rights in Nicaragua.”