Nicaragua’s Ortega Government has confiscated a prestigious Jesuit-run university alleging it was a “centre of terrorism,” in the latest in a series of actions by authorities against the Catholic Church and opposition figures. Source: NCR Online.
In a statement, the University of Central America in Nicaragua, which was a hub for 2018 protests against the regime of President Daniel Ortega, called the terrorism accusation unfounded and the seizure a blow to academia in Nicaragua.
The government did not confirm the confiscation or comment on the Jesuits’ statement.
The Jesuit order said it received a judicial order on Tuesday notifying it of the confiscation. It said the government seized all the university’s property, buildings and bank accounts.
“With this confiscation, the Ortega Government has buried freedom of thought in Nicaragua,” said María Asunción Moreno, who was a professor at the university until she was forced into exile in 2021.
The order quoted the government as claiming the university “operated as a centre of terrorism.”
“This is a government policy that systematically violates human rights and appears to be aimed at consolidating a totalitarian state,” the Society of Jesus of Central America said in a statement.
Since December 2021, at least 26 Nicaraguan universities have been closed and their assets seized by order of the Ortega Government with a similar procedure. Seven of those were foreign institutions.
In April, the Vatican closed its embassy in Nicaragua after the country’s government proposed suspending diplomatic relations.
Two congregations of religious sisters, including from the Missionaries of Charity order founded by Mother Teresa, were expelled from Nicaragua last year.
The expulsions, closures and confiscations have not just targeted the church. Nicaragua has outlawed or closed more than 3000 civic groups and non-governmental organisations.