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Nicaraguan government defunds Catholic university

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Chenanhe | CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

John Burger - published on 04/07/22

Move is seen as an act of revenge against the Jesuit-run Central American University for harboring students protesting the Ortega regime.

The Catholic Church appears to be coming under more and more pressure in Nicaragua. A law passed recently to increase government control over institutions of higher learning and defund Jesuit-run Central American University is thought to be an act of revenge against that university for harboring people who had been protesting the government of Daniel Ortega.

Nicaragua’s Parliament voted March 31 to make the National Council of Universities (CNU) the main governing body of the institutions, placing it above the academic experts from each institution that had held those powers, Reuters reported.

“This reform kills the autonomy of universities that cost so much blood in Nicaragua. The government now controls the CNU, which until now was only an advisory body to universities,” Ernesto Medina, former rector of the National Autonomous University of Nicaragua, told Reuters.

The government reform has excluded the Jesuit Central American University (UCA) from the CNU and given membership to three universities created by the government in the last weeks. It also cut funding to the Catholic university drastically. The UCA, which Ortega and three of his children attended, was the cradle of anti-government protests in 2018. That year, it received $8.1 million for its operations from the government, a figure that has dropped to $38,000 in 2022.

“It is a revenge against the UCA for the role its students played in the rebellion of April 2018,” said constitutional law professor Maria Asuncion Moreno.

Msgr. Carlos Avilés, vicar general of the Archdiocese of Managua, also called the action “political revenge, because all the ecclesial institutions are supporting the people in the unpopularity of this government,” according to Catholic News Service.

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