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Nicaragua threatens to cut ties with the Vatican over “Nazi dictatorship” comments.

origin 1Pope Francis greets the faithful at the end of his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican on Wednesday, March 8, 2023. ©AP Photo/Andrew Medichini

Nicaragua’s government said on Sunday it had proposed cutting off ties with the Vatican. The announcement follows comments by Pope Francis who liken President Daniel Ortega’s administration to a Communist or Nazi dictatorship.

In a interview with the Argentine media Infobae, Pope Francis affirmed that “it is something outside of what we are experiencing, as if it were a communist dictatorship in 1917 or Hitler’s in 1935”.

Pope Francis has previously kept quiet on the issue to avoid inflaming tensions.

origin 1Supporters of Nicaragua President Daniel Ortega hold a poster of him during a march marking International Women’s Day, in Managua, Nicaragua on Wednesday, March 8, 2023.Inti Ocon/Copyright 2023

The comments come amid an ongoing crackdown on the Catholic Church in the Central American country. Relations began to sour in 2018 when authorities violently repressed anti-government protests.

Some Catholic leaders offered refuge in their churches – and the church later tried to act as a mediator between the regime and the opposition.

However, Nicaragua President Daniel Ortega branded Catholic figures he saw as sympathetic to the opposition as “terrorists” who had supported efforts to overthrow him. Dozens of religious figures have been arrested or have fled the country. Two congregations of nuns were also expelled last year.

origin 1An activist from the western democratic movement holds up a poster with a message he reads in Spanish; “Free the priests” and images of clergy imprisoned by the government by Daniel OrtCarlos Gonzalez/Copyright 2023 The AP

In August 2022, the Nicaraguan police imposed a more than two-week siege around the episcopal curia of Matagalpa. Bishop Álvarez was held captive along with three priests and four other people, who were later arrested and convicted of “conspiracy”.

In Nicaragua “we have a bishop in prison, a very serious and capable man, who wanted to give his testimony and did not accept exile”, Francis said referring to the Catholic bishop Álvarez.

The bishop was sentenced to 26 years in prison last month after refusing to board a plane that would have taken him into exile in the United States.