Church-sponsored universities in Nicaragua closed

Nicaragua shuts down two Church-linked universities

The Nicaraguan government has canceled the legal status of two universities, the Juan Pablo II University and the Autonomous Christian University of Nicaragua (UCAN), with the assets of the closed institutions passing to the state. The decision was made due to the universities’ failure to comply with laws regulating them and inhibit control and surveillance by the General Directorate for Registration and Control of Non-Profit Organizations. The Juan Pablo II University taught 10 courses in its headquarters, while UCAN had an enrollment of 6,375 students in 25 majors across six locations. The closure of the universities is part of a string of closures of non-profit organizations, including Caritas Nicaragua and Caritas Diocesana de Jinotega, and the Mariana Foundation for the fight against cancer, linked to the Catholic Church. The leftist government of President Daniel Ortega has been the source of international isolation and sanctions from the United States and the European Union, along with confrontations with Church leaders who have criticized its policies. The government has also recently canceled the legal status of 18 business associations, including the Higher Council for Private Enterprise (COSEP), an umbrella organization for employer chambers. Amid this context, the government expelled the apostolic nuncio, Waldemar Stanislaw Sommertag, almost a year ago, followed by the arrest and sentencing of Bishop Rolando Álvarez for undermining national integrity. The repression that began in 2018 in protests against Ortega’s re-election has seen hundreds of opponents detained in Nicaragua.

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