Central American University (UCA) has confirmed that the dictatorship of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo has issued an “official notice” against it for the political crime of “terrorism”, along with the “seizure of real estate, furniture, money in national or foreign currency from immobilized bank accounts, financial products in national or foreign currency”. Following the announcement, the educational staff and students who were in the process of enrollment evacuated the campus in case of a possible police seizure.
As reported by DIVERGENTES, a judge notified the authorities of the Jesuit university of the criminal accusation on August 15. The statement issued by UCA details that the official notice was issued at 5:29 p.m. on Tuesday by the Tenth Criminal District Court of Hearings Managua District, in charge of Judge Gloria María Saavedra Corrales.
In this way, the regime concludes the seizure of the precinct, after freezing its properties, freezing its bank accounts and revoking the accreditation of its Mediation Center. The official statement of the Ortega justice system alleges that UCA functioned “as a center of terrorism, organizing criminal groups”. An accusation that the Jesuit alma mater calls “unfounded”.
With this court order UCA is seized and will pass, like 26 other private universities, into the hands of the Ortega-Murillo regime which has dismantled critical thinking in Nicaragua. Former students of UCA, professors and opponents insist that the seizure is a presidential couple’s revenge against the university for its role in the social protests of 2018, when they opened their doors to the demonstrators and maintained a very critical position against the crimes against humanity executed by police and paramilitaries.
The official notice issued by Saavedra Corrales orders that “the seizure of all described assets (of UCA) be in favor of the State of Nicaragua, which will guarantee the continuity of all educational programs”. “Official letters are sent to the following institutions: Public Registry of Real Estate and Mercantile Property, to the SIBOIF, National Directorate of Registries, to the National Police and to the Attorney General’s Office of the Republic for what concerns their charges”, adds the judicial communication.
In spite of the harassment against UCA in the last week, through several emails to its educational community, the university informed that they were carrying out “pertinent steps to overcome obstacles and setbacks that affect our ordinary operations”. In fact, this August 15, they issued a notice regarding the payment of fees for the first two weeks of the current month, since, after the freezing of their bank accounts, there was uncertainty as to how to make the tuition payments for the academic year that begins this August 21.
However, after being notified on Tuesday, August 15, the university directors decided to hold a meeting with their personnel in the early hours of Wednesday morning to inform them of the dictatorship’s decision. After that meeting, they announced the decision to the entire educational community.
“Because of this, Central American University (UCA) suspends from 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,” says the announcement. Thousands of students, especially those who were in the process of obtaining their degree, are uncertain about their professional future.
“In view of all this, Universidad Centroamericana reiterates its commitment to the Nicaraguan society for a high quality higher education and faithful to its founding principles for 63 years (…) Universidad Centroamericana (UCA) is grateful for the trust, solidarity and closeness expressed by students, teachers, administrative staff and the Nicaraguan society that identifies with the principles and values of this alma mater,” the higher education center states.
Some directors are leaving Nicaragua
Another source linked to the Jesuit order told DIVERGENTES that it was “such a scare” caused by the judicial decision, that several directors of the alma mater left Nicaragua immediately. “There is concern for the health of Rector Rolando Alvarado, who suffers from a heart condition,” the source said. Some Jesuit priests remain in their house in Villa El Carmen, Managua, and although they have been told to leave, some have said they will not. In the house live Jesuit priests who are very old and in a delicate state of health.
“This is a hit against the Jesuit Order, against the Catholic Church, against knowledge and free thought. Do you think they have forgiven that there is a monument dedicated to Alvarito Conrado in Colegio Loyola? Nothing, they do not forgive!”, said to DIVERGENTES another source linked to UCA. “The Jesuits in Nicaragua have gone from Liberation Theology to a theology that liberates against the Ortega-Murillo.”
In February 2022, government representative Wilfredo Navarro had already accused the university of being ” terrorists” and not being “up to date” with the Ministry of the Interior (Migob). “UCA which is a center for terrorism, still today, for disinformation and promotion of violence; is not up to date with the Ministry of the Interior. It does not meet the requirements, even though they have been given four extensions”.
With this court order UCA is seized and will pass, like 26 other private universities, into the hands of the Ortega-Murillo regime which has dismantled critical thinking in Nicaragua. The justifications for university closures range from accusations of money laundering at Universidad Hispanoamericana (Uhispam), “falsifying information”, not reporting their financial statements and not registering as foreign agents. In recent months, the reasons have been that the academic offerings are inconsistent or that they do not have adequate infrastructure. Now this new form of “terrorism” has been added.
UCA’s university community is made up of more than 5,000 students and 546 professors, according to updated data until 2021 in the National Council of Universities (CNU).
There are currently 13 universities awaiting accreditation by the National Council for Evaluation and Accreditation (CNEA), among them, Universidad Centroamericana (UCA), Universidad American College (UAC); American University (LAU); Universidad Central de Nicaragua (UCN); and Universidad de Administración, Comercio y Aduana (UNACAD).
Control of the universities is one of the latest targets of the Sandinista Front. The first measures were to expel hundreds of students and eliminate their academic records. In addition, surveillance increased in public campuses, through the National Union of Students (UNEN).
Since April 2018, the regime’s repression against UCA has increased, in retaliation after the role played by the institution and its students in the rebellion in Nicaragua. The regime first tried to suffocate it economically and then harassed it through CNU audits. In March of last year, it was ordered to take away their constitutional 6%, 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 last year, when they were denied entry to the country after they made trips abroad. Father Rolando Enrique Alvarado López, who is the current rector of UCA, remained at the head of the institution.