The Nicaraguan authorities have seized the property of a Jesuit-run university in the capital of Managua.
The government’s repressive measures against the country’s Central American University (UCA) culminated on Tuesday with the complete seizure of the university through a judicial order accusing it of being a “centre of terrorism”.
This follows a series of reductions to the normal state funding for private universities and the freezing of the UCA’s bank accounts on 9 August, alongside a bar on the management of its property.
On 16 August the UCA announced that it was suspending academic and administrative activities “until they can be resumed in the normal way”. Staff were subsequently seen leaving the university with their possessions in bags and boxes.
Following the seizure, the government’s National Universities’ Council issued a statements saying that it would “ensure the continuing education at postgraduate and undergraduate level of the students of the extinct Central American University”.
It has since renamed the UCA as Casimiro Sotelo Montenegro National University. Sotelo was a student of the UCA who died fighting the Somoza dictatorship in 1967 at the age of 24.
The authorities’ campaign against the UCA goes back to 2018, when it was a centre of demonstrations against the arbitrary measures of the government and gave refuge to protesters pursued by the police. President Daniel Ortega’s regime has imposed ever-harsher measures on its critics in the years since, particularly against voices from the Church.
In a communiqué that began by quoting Matthew 5:11 – “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely” – the Central American province of the Jesuits described the charges against the university as “totally false and unfounded”.
“This new government attack on the university is not an isolated incident,” the communiqué said.
“It forms part of a series of unjustified attacks against the Nicaraguan population and other educational and social institutions of civil society that are generating a climate of violence and insecurity and exacerbating the country’s social and political crisis.”