August 17, 2023 — The Jesuits’ University of Central America (UCA) in Managua, Nicaragua, was confiscated by the government on August 16, reports America magazine. The university’s bank accounts had been frozen by government officials on August 9.
A letter issued by the judge who ordered the seizure described the university as a “center of terrorism,” accusing its administrators and educators of “betraying the trust of the Nicaraguan people” and of “transgressing against the constitutional order.”
A statement from the Central American Province of the Society of Jesus (English translation) released on August 16 called the accusations against the Jesuits at UCA “totally false and unfounded” and described the university’s seizure as part of “government policy that is systematically violating [human] rights … [and] aimed at consolidating a totalitarian state.”
La Prensa Nicaragua shared a photo of UCA staff removing the crucifix from the university chapel for safekeeping:
Personal de la Universidad Centroamericana retira imágenes de la capilla UCA tras la confiscación ordenada por la dictadura de Daniel Ortega.
— LA PRENSA Nicaragua (@laprensa) August 16, 2023
In the statement, the Jesuits said this latest move against the university is part of a pattern of government oppression: “unjustified attacks against the Nicaraguan population and other educational and social institutions of civil society that are generating a climate of violence and insecurity and exacerbating the country’s sociopolitical crisis.”
Founded by the Jesuits in 1960, the university was the nation’s first private institution of higher education. Before it was forced to suspend operations yesterday, there were approximately 9,500 undergrad and graduate students attending UCA.
The Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States has issued a statement of solidarity with the Jesuits of Nicaragua and the faculty, staff and students of the UCA:
The Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States is alarmed and troubled by the unjust confiscation of the University of Central America (UCA) in Managua by the government of Nicaragua. The UCA is internationally known for providing an outstanding education to thousands of students in the Jesuit and Catholic tradition since its founding in 1960. The seizure of the university is a blatant violation of academic and religious freedom.
We stand in solidarity with the Jesuits of Nicaragua and the faculty, staff and students of the UCA in rejecting the false accusations made against the university and in condemning the government’s actions.
We echo the call of the Jesuit Central American Province for the Nicaraguan government to reverse and correct its decision and to end the aggression against the UCA community. We ask the United States and Canadian governments to join us in denouncing this grave injustice and in insisting on a just resolution. We pray that truth, justice, dialogue and freedom will prevail.
Download the statement from the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States in PDF format.
Read the statement from the Central American Province of the Society of Jesus in Spanish (original) or English (translation).