On April 5th (Palm Sunday) Nicaragua's centrist corporate daily, El Nuevo Diario , published what has since become an infamous and highly controversial interview with Abelardo Mata , Bishop of Estelí and Vice President of the Nicaraguan Catholic Bishops Conference.
The front-page headline read "Mata
fears civil war.
The contents of the interview are based on the Bishop's inflammatory claim that there are armed groups in the mountains of the northern departments of Nueva Segovia and Madriz who are preparing themselves to engage in armed violence against the government in response to what he
describes as President Daniel Ortega's authoritarian actions.
Abelardo Mata, Bishop of Estelí and VP of Nicaraguan Catholic Bishops Conference
"We are certain of the existence of armed groups in San Juan de Río Coco," said Mata
, "it is sad that in order to defend our rights we have to look to arms. ...
Journalists rushed to request statements from Bishops Brenes
in response to Estrada's "accusation.
Among the headlines derived from this second round of interviews were; " the Church is the first to want peace ," (the same phrase famously used by Pope John Paul II on his
visit to Nicaragua in 1983); and, the Attorney General is " rude and irrational " ... "but [his] comments do not worry us because, thank god, the population knows who [to believe]."
Perhaps Bishops Mata and Brenes' anti government stance is partly motivated by the need to protect the various short term interests at stake.
It is worth mentioning at this point that among the list of recipients of USAID funding in Nicaragua features the Nicaraguan Association for Human Rights (ANPDH), an organization presided by Bishop Mata.