HomeNewsNicaragua shutters Church-linked universities

Nicaragua shutters Church-linked universities

UN and Western governments have accused President Daniel Ortega's government of illegally attempting to crush any and all opposition

Nicaragua on Tuesday shuttered two universities with ties to the Catholic Church just a day after stripping 18 employer unions of their legal status in an ongoing clampdown on dissent.

Since anti-government protests were violently put down in 2018, leaving more than 350 dead, hundreds imprisoned and more than 100,000 in exile, rights groups, the UN and Western governments have accused President Daniel Ortega’s government of illegally attempting to crush any and all opposition.

The steps against the universities, which have campuses in several cities, were published in the official La Gaceta gazette.

Just like the unions, they had their legal status cancelled for alleged contraventions of the law, according to the government.

The institutions were ordered to hand over all information on students, professors, study plans and other details to the country’s National Council of Universities (CNU), according to the publication.

The universities’ thousands of students will be integrated into other CNU-approved institutions and all university property will be transferred to the state.

The decree also scrapped the legal status of the Mariana Foundation for cancer awareness, which is also linked to the Church, for alleged financial infractions.

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Ortega’s government, under UN sanctions for a raft of authoritarian actions, has recently clashed with leaders of the Church who have criticized alleged rights violations.

These include the detention of hundreds of critics, among them several would-be challengers to Ortega who were jailed ahead of presidential elections in 2021.

They were among 222 jailed government opponents suddenly expelled to the United states last month and stripped of their citizenship along with dozens of others.

On Monday, the government deprived almost all the Central American country’s employer associations of their legal status for alleged violations of the registration process and “inconsistencies” in their financial statements.

Last month, authorities declared the association of private banks and another 12 associations illegal.

More than 2,000 associations, NGOs and employer unions have been barred from operating since 2020.

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