The funeral for Eddy Montes is scheduled for this afternoon, at the Cathedral of Matagalpa. Mr. Montes was shot dead by a guard at the Modelo Prison on Thursday afternoon, in an act that Nicaragua’s Interior Ministry termed as “self-defense”, but that is highly disputed by fellow inmates who witnessed the slaying.
This morning, the bishop of Matagalpa, Mons. Rolando Alvarez, led mourners in prayer at Mr. Montes’ wake, which is being held at the Church of San Felipe. The gathered crowd listened respectfully to a reading of the Gospel of John, 14:1-6
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God[a]; believe also in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come backand take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.”
5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
Bishop Alvarez stated that the “process of of forgiveness and reconciliation will be authentic. To begin, there must be a recognition of the harm that has been done. The truth of what occurred must be acknowledged. There must be a serious and radical commitment to non-repetition and reparation.”
“Eddy’s dramatic and violent death has shaken up Nicaraguan society. Every dramatic and violent death shakes up a people that has a social sensibility. It shakes up a people whose social conscience is totally and completely alive. This is why there is pain within the souls of Nicaraguans. This is why the hearts of Nicaraguans are broken. Nicaraguans cry in pain and suffering.
Nevertheless, the Christian hope encourages us amidst turbulence. Today, the Lord tells us ‘do not lose peace. Do not lose peace because if you believe in God, you must also believe in me’
Christian hope comes from the crucified Christ who resurrected. The crucified Christ is the one who is in pain and who suffers. [Inaudible]. He is the one who was apparently defeated, but ended up as the victor. He appeared to have failed, but ended up triumphant.
This is why our hope is one with open eyes. That means that our feet are firmly planted on the ground. We don’t shut our eyes to reality, as that would be alienation. And because our feet are firmly planted on the ground, we desire and work for new skies and a new earth, as it is written in the Apocalypse.
[We hope] that the process of forgiveness and reconciliation will be authentic. To begin, there must be a recognition of the harm that has been done. The truth of what occurred must be acknowledged. There must be a serious and radical commitment to non-repetition and reparation. [recording cuts out]
We must walk with our sights set on eternity. An eternity that is not merely a wait for the future that is being built, but an eternity that entails commitment to the present. A commitment to true peace.”
After leading prayers, Mons. Alvarez spoke briefly to the press. When asked whether or not the Alianza should continue negotiating with the Ortega Murillo administration, the bishop said that “we all have to safeguard human dignity, and I encourage them to be mindful of their own dignity, and to always listen to the suffering heart of the Nicaraguan people. If you don’t listen to the beating heart of the suffering Nicaraguan people, you run the risk of breaking away from reality itself.”
"El llamado q yo les hago es q velen x su propia dignidad y q siempre escuchen el latido del corazón sufriente del pueblo nicaragüense xq si no se corre el gravísimo y severo riesgo de alejarse de la misma realidad" pic.twitter.com/Hnqul0C0aZ
— 🆘🇳🇮 Ocupa Inss (@OcupaINSS) May 19, 2019
Funeral procession is scheduled to begin at 1:30 pm, local time. Mourners have been gathered at San Felipe de Mologüina since yesterday. The wake of Eddy Montes has been ongoing, since his body arrived in the early hours of Sunday. Unlike other wakes, Mr. Montes is being sent off through a combination of religious ritual and protest against the Ortega-Murillo government, as mourners, friends, and family chant “Eddy Montes, Presente” surrounding a casket flanked by Nicaraguan, US, and Catholic Church flags, and banners demanding justice.
El ambiente en el Salón de la iglesia Molagüina de Matagalpa, minutos previos a la salida del cuerpo de #EddyMontes, el expreso político, asesinado en la carcel La Modelo.@laprensa #Matagalpa pic.twitter.com/CtDA1Osqpt
— Raquel Acosta (@acostaraquel16) May 19, 2019
As the wake occurred in Matagalpa, US National Security Advisor, John Bolton, became the highest ranking member of the Trump administration tweet about Montes’ death, albeit without mentioning Mr. Montes by name.
We strongly condemn the death of a US citizen at the hands of the Nicaraguan police. The United States will continue to hold the Ortega regime accountable for its repression and violence against dissent. We demand justice for this crime and those against the Nicaraguan people.
— John Bolton (@AmbJohnBolton) May 19, 2019
Mr. Bolton’s tweet comes almost one day after an official statement from the Department of State, condemning Mr. Montes’ death. “His death, the deaths of hundreds of innocent civilians at the hands of Ortega’s security and parapolice forces, and the continued detention of hundreds more political prisoners demonstrate the regime’s utter disregard for human life and democratic freedoms.”
We vehemently condemn the killing of U.S. citizen Eddy Montes in #Nicaragua. The United States will hold accountable the #Ortega regime and all Nicaraguan security forces involved in human rights abuses and violations. https://t.co/EZRU01iGDf pic.twitter.com/1NyFETKwoU
— Morgan Ortagus (@statedeptspox) May 18, 2019
Mons. Silvio Baez, bishop auxiliary of Managua, shared his thoughts via Twitter. The bishop, who now resides at the Vatican after being called there by Pope Francis, wrote “I join Nicaraguans at the Cathedral of Matagalpa in their pain, as they weep for the murder of our compatriot EDDY MONTES. They celebrate the eucharist with faith and demand freedom and justice. No more deaths in our beloved Nicaragua! Freedom for political prisoners.”
Me uno al dolor de los nicaragüenses que en la Catedral de Matagalpa lloran por el asesinato de nuestro compatriota EDDY MONTES, celebran con fe la Eucaristía y exigen libertad y justicia. ¡Ni un muerto más en nuestra amada Nicaragua! ¡Libertad para los presos políticos!
— Silvio José Báez (@silviojbaez) May 19, 2019
At around 1:30, local time, Mr. Montes’ casket, draped with a Nicaraguan and a US flag, was carried out of San Felipe, in a funeral procession that concludes at the Cathedral of St. Peter, in Matagalpa. Mourners chant “he was a lawyer, not a criminal,” “there will be no amnesty!”, “no forgiveness, no forgetting”, and other anti-Ortega slogans.
Unlike Saturday afternoon, there are no police officers in sight, as the funeral procession makes its way through the main streets of Matagalpa. As the procession reaches the Matagalpa police station, people begin chanting “killers” and “a decent police officer doesn’t kill their own people” (this happens about 30 minutes into the FB live broadcast)
According to Despacho 505, the pallbearers for Mr. Montes included young men who shared a cell with him.
Jóvenes que compartieron celdas con Eddy Montes cargan el ataúd de Eddy Montes. Fuerte ambiente de protesta en las honras fúnebres. Siga la transmisión en directo aquí: https://t.co/8DbbomNPQV pic.twitter.com/maGVuUEJpr
— Despacho 505 (@despacho505) May 19, 2019
Mr. Montes was not a Catholic. He was an evangelical pastor who ministered to his fellow political prisoners at the Modelo Prison. No one from any of the main Evangelical churches in the country has said anything about Mr. Montes’ death. Journalist Miguel Mendoza described the Evangelical churches’ absence as a “religious irony.” Mr. Montes will receive a Catholic ceremony, in a Catholic church.
La ironía religiosa en el asesinato de don Eddy Montes. pic.twitter.com/1r9QLmOvvN
— Miguel Mendoza (@Mmendoza1970) May 19, 2019
As Mr. Montes’ casket entered the cathedral, it was received to the tune of “Nicaragua, Nicaragüita”.
Al canto de "Nicaragua nicaragüita", agitar de banderas azul y blanco y una lluvia de aplausos fue ingresado el cuerpo de Eddy Montes Praslin a la catedral de Matagalpa, en donde se realiza su misa exequial.
— LA PRENSA Nicaragua (@laprensa) May 19, 2019
Mr. Montes’ funeral mass was presided by Mons. Roger García, of San Felipe de Molagüina.
Momentos previo al inicio de la misa de cuerpo presente de Eddy Montes Praslin desde la Catedral de Matagalpa. La misa es oficiada por Monseñor Roger Garcia de la Iglesia Católica de Molagüina.#SOSNicaragua #Nicaragua #Matagalpa pic.twitter.com/wGJqz0DzOC
— Trinchera de la Noticia (@LaTrincheraNic) May 19, 2019