Dictatorial paranoia Nicaragua | 07 September 2023

Nicaragua: Jesuits under attack

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With President Ortega’s government and sympathizers continuing to act with hostility towards the Catholic Church in particular, the Jesuits have become the most recent target:

  • 15 August 2023: The government ordered the confiscation of all assets belonging to the prestigious, Jesuit-run, University of Central America (UCA) in Managua, alleging it had become a "center of terrorism" (CBS News, 17 August 2023).
  • 19 August 2023: Police and members of the judiciary evicted a community of 6 Jesuit priests from their private residence, Villa Carmen, in Managua (Vatican News, 21 August 2023). Despite the priests providing documentation showing that the house was not part of UCA’s property, they were instructed to leave with only a handful of personal belongings (Confidencial, 20 August 2023).
  • 23 August 2023: The Ministry of Interior approved the cancellation of the Jesuit religious community’s legal status and the transfer all the organization’s assets in Nicaragua to the government. The reason for this action is allegedly the organization’s failure to provide financial statements in 2020 - 2022 and for violating NGO laws (Jurist, 25 August 2023).
  • 23 August 2023: In a statement posted on 23 August, the Jesuit order condemned the new wave of aggression against the Nicaraguan Jesuits, which it said was taking place “in a national context of systematic repression classified as ‘crimes against humanity’ by the group of human rights experts on Nicaragua formed by the United Nations.” Calling for  the rule of law to prevail, the Jesuit order pointed out that the government’s decision was made without proving that the administrative procedures established by law had not been carried out (CNA, 24 August 2023).

World Watch Research analyst Rossana Ramirez comments: “The systematic repression of the Church by the government reaches ever higher levels. The victims of these arbitrary measures are not just the religious groups themselves, but also the communities they serve. The government’s attacks against the Jesuits in recent weeks have affect thus not only affected the members of the religious order – around 19 members in total - but also all those who benefit from their work, including the UCA students who have been left without education after the confiscation of the university.”

Rossana Ramirez adds: “Altogether, almost 3,000 civil society organizations have been declared illegal and the assets of 26 private universities have been confiscated by the government. It is very likely that the current legal framework will be used to get rid of further educational projects led by the Jesuit order and to expel foreign members of that religious community from the country. This summer, government hostility has reached new heights and caused great uncertainty among the population.”


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