UCA personnel remove the crucified Christ from the UCA chapel. courtesy
The workers of the Central American University of Nicaragua (UCA) rushed to dismantle the crucified Christ from its chapel from the main altar immediately after the authorities of the Jesuit house of studies confirmed this Wednesday that the regime of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo opened a criminal case for the political crime of “terrorism”. The judicial process is accompanied by the seizure of all personal and real property and money from the most renowned private compound in this Central American country, which had become the last redoubt of freedom of thought in a context of brutal repression.
The dismay and fear of a possible police occupation led to the evacuation of university workers and students who were enrolling for the next school year that would begin on Monday, August 21. However, the future of more than 5,000 students and 546 teachers is “suspended” by this repressive measure.
The center reported that it received the notification on Tuesday, August 15 at 5:29 p.m. “We have received an official letter from the Tenth Criminal District Court of Managua Circumscription, in charge of Judge Gloria María Saavedra Corrales, in which we were notified of the seizure of real estate, personal property, money in national or foreign currency from immobilized bank accounts, financial products in national or foreign currency owned by the UCA”, denounced the alma mater in a statement. “Because of this, the UCA suspends as of today all academic and administrative activities, until it is possible to resume them in an ordinary way, which will be informed through the official communication channels of the University.”
Hours earlier, the Divergentes outlet had reported on the criminal accusation that is the corollary of a long persecution against the UCA since 2018, when students and citizens who demonstrated against the Sandinista regime found refuge and support at the university. In recent days, the Government cornered the compound with the immobilization of its real estate, the freezing of its bank accounts and the revocation of the accreditation of its Legal Mediation Center, a free service for society.
Facilities of the Central American University (UCA) in Managua.Miguel Andrés
The Ortega justice official alleges that the UCA functioned “as a center of terrorism, organizing criminal groups.” Some remarks that the Jesuit alma mater qualifies as “unfounded”. Although the leaders of the UCA learned of the judicial notification towards the end of the afternoon of this August 15, this Wednesday morning when they communicated the situation to their workers. Then this statement came to his university community. However, the digital media also reported that several leaders included in the accusation left the country to protect their freedom.
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“This is a blow to the Society of Jesus, to the Catholic Church, to knowledge and to free thought. Do you think they have forgiven the fact that there is a monument to Alvarito Conrado (a teenager killed in 2018 with a bullet to the throat) at the Loyola College? Nothing, they don’t forgive!” another source linked to the UCA told EL PAÍS. And he does not rule out that it is a reprisal against Francisco himself, the first Pope to belong to the Society of Jesus, and who described the Ortega-Murillo regime as a “rude and Hitlerian dictatorship.”
La UCA joins confiscated universities
With this court order, the UCA is confiscated and will pass, like 26 other private universities, into the hands of the Ortega y Murillo regime, which has dismantled critical thought in Nicaragua. The justifications for the closure of the campuses – which began in 2021 – range from accusations of money laundering to the Hispano-American University (Uhispam), “falsifying information”, not reporting their financial statements and not registering as foreign agents. In recent months, the justifications are that the academic offer is inconsistent or that they do not have adequate infrastructure. Now this new modality of “terrorism” is being added.
There are currently 13 universities that are awaiting accreditation by the National Council for Evaluation and Accreditation (CNEA), including the Central American University (UCA), the American College University (UAC); the American University (LAU); the Central University of Nicaragua (UCN); and the University of Administration, Commerce and Customs (UNACAD).
Control in the universities is one of the last targets of the presidential couple in their desire to silence all critical voices. The first measures consisted of expelling hundreds of students and deleting their academic records. In addition, surveillance increased in public facilities, through the National Union of Students (UNEN), the Sandinista arm in public universities.
Since April 2018, the regime’s repression against the UCA increased in retaliation after the role played by the institution and its students in the rebellion in Nicaragua. The regime first tried to suffocate her financially and then harassed her through audits by the National Council of Universities (CNU). In March of last year, it was ordered to remove the 6% constitutional, when it was separated from the CNU and a reform to Law 89, Law of Autonomy of Higher Education Institutions, was approved.
The former rector José Idiáquez and the vice-rector, Jorge Huete, were exiled in 2022, when they were denied entry to the country after they made trips abroad. At the head of the institution was Father Rolando Enrique Alvarado López, who is the current rector of the UCA. Father Idiáquez denounced in 2018 that they threatened him with death and held the Ortega government responsible for what could happen to him. “Ortega is going to end up as a murderer,” the Jesuit told EL PAÍS.
The Central American Province of the Society of Jesus issued a statement condemning the blow against its house of higher studies in Nicaragua. “This new government aggression against the university is not an isolated event; It is 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 sociopolitical crisis,” they maintain. “This is a government policy that is systematically violating human rights and seems to be aimed at consolidating a totalitarian state.”
A graffiti at the Central American University. Miguel Andrés
The sources consulted by EL PAÍS fear that now the blow against the Jesuits could extend to the schools administered by them in Nicaragua. Professor Ernesto Medina considers that the closure of the UCA is “catastrophic”. “A university that in 60 years of history has provided an invaluable service to Nicaragua is being threatened, in terms of training, social projection, image,” said the professor exiled and denationalized by the regime.
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