BY ISN STAFF | August 29, 2023
On August 16, 2023, the Jesuits’ University of Central America (UCA) in Managua, Nicaragua, was confiscated by the government, which alleged that the UCA was a “center of terrorism.” The university’s bank accounts had been frozen by government officials on August 9. Now, in the latest in a series of escalations against the UCA by Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega’s regime, Nicaraguan authorities have expelled a community of Jesuit priests from their private residence close to the university despite showing documents proving that the building was not part of the university, but a private property belonging to the Jesuits.
In a statement issued last week, the Central America Conference of Provincials of Society of Jesus denounced that the “new government aggression” against the Jesuit university “is not an isolated incident,” but part “of a series of unjustified attacks on educational and social institutions that are generating a climate of violence and insecurity.”
Below, find statements from leaders in the Jesuit network.
Fr. Arturo Sosa, S.J., Superior General of the Society of Jesus [full statement]
“We know that all the accusations made against the UCA are totally false and unfounded. Furthermore, the right to a legitimate defence has been denied. A fair trial —with impartial justice—, would bring to light the truth of the whole plot that the government has been executing, since the youth protests of 2018, against the UCA, against many other works of the Catholic Church and against thousands of institutions of Civil Society, with the aim of suffocating, closing or appropriating them. With similar slander they have also outraged the rights of so many people, their reputation, their lives and their property.
I join in calling for this judicial measure against the UCA to be reversed and corrected, for the government’s aggression against it and its members to cease, and for paths of dialogue to be opened on the basis of truth, freedom and the right to quality education for young people and for all the people of Nicaragua.”
Central America Conference of Provincials of Society of Jesus [full statement]
“The serious accusations against the Jesuit University of Nicaragua contained in the official letter issued by the Managua Circumscription Hearing Penitentiary on August 15, 2023, in which it is described as a ‘center of terrorism,’ is accused of having ‘betrayed the trust of the Nicaraguan people,’ and of ‘having transgressed the constitutional order, the legal order, and the order that governs the institutions of higher education in the country’ is totally false and unfounded. The de facto confiscation of the UCA is the price to pay for the search for a more just society, protecting the life, truth, and freedom of the Nicaraguan people, in line with its motto: The truth will set you free (John 8:32).”
Conference of Jesuit Provincials of Latin America and the Caribbean [full statement]
“This is one more act of a spectacle where truth, justice and respect for the inalienable rights of human beings are confronted with measures that seek to silence the voices that rise up and support the struggle for a country where the rights of all are respected, their integrity and their quest to live freely in their own country.We remain firm in our hope and #TodosSomosUCA!”
Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States [full statement]
“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.”
Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities [full statement]
“The repressive strategies of this regime are those of a government that has lost its legitimacy and rightfully fears the judgment of the Nicaraguan people and the international community. These actions are those of a government out of touch with its citizens, civil society, and religious institutions.”
Georgetown University [full homily, Mass of the Holy Spirit, 2023]
“Ultimately, the regime claimed it was shutting down the university for ‘fostering terrorism.’ But as is so common for autocratic regimes, the deeper reason they sought to silence the UCA was because it was doing what universities do — seeking truth, through critical study and dialogue and social analysis, and because it was unafraid to speak that truth publicly. And they shut the UCA down because it was doing what Jesuit universities do — drawing on faith in a God, and a Holy Spirit, who works unceasingly in our world for justice and reconciliation.”
Editor’s Note: This story will be updated as additional statements are released. Please forward additional statements to Maya Jain, assistant director of communications for the Ignatian Solidarity Network, at firstname.lastname@example.org.