Easter Processions in Nicaragua Dress in Blue and White. Then, Police Fires upon Impromptu Protest on Good Friday in Managua.

On a day that Pope Benedict XVI once described as “the greatest day of hope,” Nicaraguans all around the nation walked the Via Crucis, led by Catholic bishops and priests, from churches large and small.

It is a Good Friday like no other before in Nicaragua. Today, April 19, is the one-year anniversary of the deaths of the first victims of the repression. They were Richard Pavón (17 years old), a high school student from Tipitapa; Darwin Urbina (29 years old), a supermarket worker; and Hilton Rafael Manzanares (33 years old), a police officer in the special operations unit.

The parish of San Miguel Arcángel in Masaya, led by Fr. Edwin Román, transformed the traditional processions into memorials and protests against the Ortega-Murillo dictatorship. This began withThursday’s “Silence Procession” and continued during Friday’s Via Crucis.

On Thursday night, Fr. Román led the Silence Procession, while carrying a Nicaraguan flag. He was surrounded by the families of the victims of the repression in Masaya.

Fr. Román has been among the most recognizable figures of the Catholic Church, after he opened the doors of his parish to protesters fleeing from the police and paramilitaries. Fr. Román also worked alongside the ANPDH to secure the release detainees, including protesters, riot police officers, and Sandinista sympathizers. For his actions, Fr. Román has suffered constant harassment from Ortega-Murillo sympathizers, propagandists, and police.

Through it all, Fr. Román remains defiant. On Thursday morning, he was spotted driving to Managua, to attend the yearly renewal of vows at the Cathedral.

Friday morning, Fr. Román led the Via Crucis. He read the names of the victims, while standing at the entrance to the parish

Fr. Román also spoke to the assembled crowd. He said “We want freedom so that our young people can make a better future than our present. We want all Nicaraguan families to live in peace and have work. No more hunger; no more destruction. Out with the dictatorship! Long live a free Nicaragua! Freedom for political prisoners!”

Masaya was not the only city where religious rituals merged with popular protest. In Matagalpa, some procession goers used blue and white to adorn their lanterns. This happened on Thursday night.

On Friday, Granada’s Via Crucis had procession goers walking behind the image of Jesus, dressed in Blue and White. The procession ended with the release of a Blue and White rosary, made out of balloons

Similar images came in from other locations, like La Concha, Nindirí, and Tipitapa, among other places.

In Managua, Via Crucis leads into a Protest. Police Crack Down Again.

In Managua, Friday’s Via Crucis procession mostly followed the indications given by Fr. Luis Herrera, rector of the Cathedral of Managua, who had asked people to “live the Via Crucis in an environment of silence, prayer, and penance,” and to “not manipulate” the procession. “It is not a political rally”, said Fr. Herrera.

Nevertheless, people also memorialized the victims of the repression. This video speaks for itself.

People also created a memorial for the victims, at the entrance to the cathedral.

After the procession was over, the crowd did not disperse to go home, as in prior years. Instead, they rallied and protested outside of the Cathedral.

The protest soon spilled over to the nearby Metrocentro Rotonda. Hundreds of people gathered around the rotonda’s signature fountain, chanting “Yes we could!”

For the first time in months, protesters fired artisanal mortars in the air.

Protesters left their mark on the fountain, through graffiti as well.

El Nuevo Diario documented the start of the impromptu mobilization. The team also reported on the arrival of the police, who came on the scene approximately at 11 AM, local time. At around 8 minutes into the Nuevo Diario’s FB Live broadcast, the crowd starts running for cover and you start hearing the first detonations. Video also shows protesters throwing rocks at the police. There are reports of two wounded at this time.

The Nuevo Diario team also photographed the police deployment. Riot officers can be seen carrying long rifles.

The police surrounded the area and trapped protesters and church goers inside Cathedral grounds.

The situation in Managua did not go unnoticed internationally. Via Twitter, the IACHR made it known that they were monitoring the protest and crackdown. The organization reminded “the State that it must respect the right to protest, guarantee free expression, and safeguard the physical integrity of protesters in Nicaragua.”

US State Department Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Kimberly Breier and OAS Secretary General Almagro, issued  statements via Twitter as well. Almagro demanded that the “repression cease”, and “respect for fundamental freedoms, including the right to protest.” He later deleted the tweet, with no explanation, but not before other social media users had taken screenshots of it.


At around 12:30, local time, Confidencial shared another FB Live broadcast. A member of the Alianza Cívica, a nun, and at least one protester are trying to calm and reassure the crowd that they will be evacuated safely. However, several protesters have serious misgivings and do not want to leave for fear of being arrested.

Almost five minutes into the broadcast, Fr. Luis Herrera informs the crowd that the Nuncio has guaranteed safe passage for everyone. Unfortunately, that does not reassure protesters, reflecting the general mistrust many Nicaraguans have come to feel towards the Nuncio and the Alianza Cívica. Some protesters note that Alianza members do not get arrested for protesting. “Who can guarantee we won’t be arrested?”

As events unfolded at Cathedral, the police gave their version, via press release.

“This morning, while [religious celebrations] were taking place in tranquility and spiritual inner-reflection, a group of hooded people, armed with rocks, mortars, and some firearms, tried to manipulate the Via Crucis at the Cathedral.

Upon returning to Cathedral, the same group vandalized the fountain at the Rubén Darío Rotonda, and they stayed, hooded and armed, within the grounds of the Cathedral in Managua.

The police safeguarded public order and there is not a single person detained nor wounded.

At this time, Alianza members are on the scene, still trying to convince protesters to exit cathedral grounds and guaranteeing safe passage for anyone who wishes to leave. La Prensa also reports the presence of Police Commissioner Borge, who has stated that protesters can leave “without problem”

At this hour, protesters are beginning to leave. A group of around 30 people are still refusing.

At approximately 4 pm, local time, the Alianza Universitaria Nicaragüense (AUN) announced that the evacuation of the protesters had been completed. AUN is a member of the Unidad Nacional Azul y Blanco (UNAB). Violeta Granera, of UNAB, also confirmed the information.