White House spokesman ‘not tracking’ outrageous imprisonment of Catholic Bishop Rolando Álvarez on trumped-up charges Smith: United States must ‘enter new phase’ to combat Nicaraguan dictator Daniel Ortega’s extreme anti-Catholic persecution
At a congressional hearing today, Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) called on the Biden Administration and Congress to “enter a new phase” in pressuring Nicaraguan dictator Daniel Ortega and combatting his extreme anti-Catholic persecution and crimes against humanity, including his outrageous 26-year imprisonment of Bishop Rolondo Álvarez on trumped-up charges.
Chaired by Smith, the House Foreign Affairs joint subcommittee hearing comes a day after White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby admitted he was “not tracking” Bishop Álvarez’s dire situation at a White House press briefing on Tuesday.
“The extreme repression that the Ortega-Murillo regime is committing against the people of Nicaragua deserves even greater attention from the United States and our allies,” said Smith, who chaired a congressional hearing in 2021 on the plight of Nicaragua’s political prisoners and another in 2022 on the regime’s war against religious freedom.
“Under President Daniel Ortega, Nicaragua has become a pariah dictatorship in league with other human rights abusers like Cuba, Venezuela, Russia, Iran, North Korea and the People’s Republic of China,” said Smith. “Ortega is waging a war against religious freedom, and he is targeting the Catholic Church as the single most important independent institution remaining in Nicaragua.”
“We must work to ensure that President Ortega and his cronies are held accountable for their heinous crimes,” said Smith, who noted at least 37 prisoners remain unjustly incarcerated and grossly mistreated in Nicaragua today.