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Ortega’s regime closes two Catholic-linked universities




Daniel Esparza - published on 03/11/23

Seven universities, two of them with ties to the Catholic Church, were closed last week in Nicaragua, their property seized and transferred to the state.

The silencing of dissenting voices in Nicaragua directly targets the Catholic Church yet again. In the last five years, the Catholic Church in Nicaragua has gone through more than 190 attacks and desecrations, including a fire in the Managua Cathedral, the expulsion of the Missionaries of Charity, the imprisonment of Bishop Rolando Álvarez, the exile and stripping of the citizenship of more than 222 former political prisoners, priests, bishops, and seminarians included, and the banning of traditional public processions of the Way of the Cross in all parishes in the country during Lent and Easter.

Now, seven universities,two of them with ties to the Catholic Church, were closed just a day after stripping 18 employer unions of their legal status in an ongoing clampdown on dissent.

Even though both the UN and most Western governments have accused Ortega’s regime of illegally attempting to crush any and all opposition in Nicaragua, the closing of these universities was published in the country’s official gazette –La Gaceta.As it happened with the unions, these universities had their legal status canceled for alleged contraventions of the law, not handing over to the National Council of Universities of Nicaragua (CNU) their financial reports.

The universities, all of them private, were ordered to send all the information they had on record regarding students, professors, programs, study plans, and other details to the National Council of Universities immediately. The students would then be transferred to other national universities, and all university property will now be handled by the state.

The Church and the state in Nicaragua: Deteriorating relations since 2018

The relations between the Church in Nicaragua and Ortega’s regime became particularly strained starting in April 2018, when protests broke out over social security reforms implemented by the government. The authorities violently repressed the demonstrators, resulting in 355 deaths, according to a report published in June 2022.

The Church helped the protestors by sheltering them in its buildings and in May 2018 tried to act as a mediator between the regime and the opposition. Bishop Rolando Álvarez was part of a mediating team from the Episcopal Conference. However, the dialogue quickly broke down and the government has increased its attacks since. Bishop Álvarez has been sentenced to 26 years in prison, but his family is unsure of his whereabouts according to latest reports.

NicaraguaPersecution of Christians
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