The president of Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega, has ordered the closure of the Vatican embassy in Managua and the Nicaraguan embassy to the Holy See in Rome, as reported by Reuters on March 12, 2023. Nicaragua’s government stated that this decision was a “suspension” of diplomatic ties rather than an official breaking.
This action follows Pope Francis’ recent interview in which he compared Nicaragua’s Sandinista government to Nazi Germany and called Ortega “unstable.”
The Vatican embassy, or nunciature, has been run by a chargé d’affaires since March 2022 after the Nicaraguan government expelled the Vatican ambassador from the country, which the Vatican called an “incomprehensible” and “unjustified unilateral measure.”
In the interview, the Pope spoke about Bishop Rolando Álvarez, an outspoken critic of Ortega’s regime, who was sentenced to 26 years in prison last month.
Francis described Álvarez’s imprisonment as “out of line with reality” and compared Ortega’s dictatorship to “the communist dictatorship of 1917 or the Hitler dictatorship of 1935,” using the Argentine word “guarangas,” meaning “rude.”
The Pope also expressed concern about the situation in Nicaragua, where the government has detained, imprisoned, and likely tortured numerous Catholic leaders, including at least one bishop and several priests.
The regime has also taken action to repress Catholic radio and television stations and driven Catholic religious orders, including the Missionaries of Charity, from the country.
Ortega, who leads Nicaragua’s socialist Sandinista National Liberation Front party, has governed Nicaragua continuously since 2007 along with his wife, Rosario Murillo, who is now the vice president.
The regime has been accused of corruption, voter fraud, imprisoning critical dissenters and journalists, and committing violent human rights abuses against the people of Nicaragua.