New purge at Casimiro Sotelo University

Most students received no explanation for why they were denied to register for classes, while some were told it was because they owed money, despite the university supposedly being free. These students, who are in their final years of study, fear they won’t be accepted at other universities in the country

Casimiro Sotelo University authorities, formerly Universidad Centroamericana (UCA), prevented students from different programs from continuing their studies by denying their registration for the second semester, according to students who reported to DIVERGENTES.

Most of the students received no explanation or an official communication about it. Others were told they couldn’t register because they owed money, despite the fact that students are not supposed to pay any fees because, according to the regime’s propaganda, the studies are completely free.

These students were also not explained the type of debt they had with the university, nor were they given the opportunity to pay it off.

The university registration period was from May 6-10, and students had to complete the registration process in person at the university. Once the students attended, they were informed about the prohibition.

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All the students who were prevented from continuing at the university were in their final years of study. For some, it was their last semester.

“I only had this semester left to complete my degree. Now I don’t know what I’m going to do,” says one of the affected students, who requested anonymity for fear of reprisals from the Ortega regime.

Suspected they were “expelled” for supporting the Catholic Church

Universidad Casimiro Sotelo
Those rejected do not know the reasons why they were denied enrollment, but some suspect that it is due to their involvement in the Catholic Church | Divergentes Archive

Although the number of rejected students is unknown—since many refused to speak for fear of reprisals—in some class groups up to four people were “expelled,” according to the students consulted.

“We don’t know how many of us couldn’t continue, but in my class they’re not the only ones. It is known that several went to the university to register and left without being able to do so,” commented another student who was denied enrollment.

“They’re not letting just anyone study,” he adds.

None of the affected people who spoke to DIVERGENTES know the specific reasons why they were denied registration, as they claim they do not have—nor have they had—any participation in social or political activities that could put them in the eyes of the regime’s persecution. Only one student suspects that he was denied enrollment due to his participation in Catholic Church activities.

This is the second filter that the university has carried out with students from the former UCA. The university had already conducted a purge at the end of 2023, when the Ortega-Murillo regime finally made UNCSM operational, five months after canceling the legal status of UCA and seizing the university campus from the Jesuit Order.

As in this occasion, the students prevented from enrolling were also in their final years of study, and many of them had never been openly involved in political activities against the dictatorship.

Students fear they will not be able to finish their studies in the country

New purge at Casimiro Sotelo University
Students fear they will not be accepted at other universities in the country | Divergentes Archive

Last year, the students who were banned were also restricted from studying at other universities in the country, as they had tried to study at Universidad Americana (UAM), but their enrollments were rejected. Many believed they no longer had the opportunity to complete their higher education until Universidad Rafael Landívar (URL) in Guatemala and Universidad Centroamericana José Simeón Cañas (UCA) in El Salvador offered them the chance to continue studying.

Now the new rejected students fear they will not be accepted at other universities in the country, as happened in the case of UAM. They also fear they will not be able to study at URL and UCA José Simeón Cañas, since the enrollment period for Nicaraguans ended in December 2023.

“We don’t know if they will reopen enrollment for students from UCA Nicaragua. The universities in Guatemala and El Salvador had spots last year, but they haven’t said if they will have spots for Nicaraguan students again,” says a student.

UNCSM started classes on January 15, after three intense months of student recruitment. Since its opening, students have exposed the administrative disorganization they have dealt with and the incompetence of the new authorities who have not been able to respond to the students’ demands.

The 2023 Budget Execution report revealed that the regime allocated 47,500,000 córdobas to UNCSM, coming from Treasury Revenues and not from the 6% of the General Budget of the Republic destined for higher education institutions and administered by the National Council of Universities (CNU).

Classes for the second semester started on May 13, and only the students chosen by the authorities were able to continue.

The information we publish in DIVERGENTES comes from contrasted sources. Due to the situation in the region, many times, we are forced to protect them under pseudonymity or anonymity. Unfortunately, some governments in the region, including the Nicaraguan regime, do not provide information or censor independent media. For this reason, despite requesting it, we cannot rely on official, authorized versions. We resort to data analysis, anonymous internal sources, or limited information from the official media. These are the conditions under which we exercise a profession that, in many cases, costs us our safety and our lives. We will continue to report.