Helping the Nicaraguan Population Photo: Europa Press

Nicaraguan Dictatorship Expropriates Two Universities of the Church and Sanctions Caritas Harshly

The government of Daniel Ortega closed two universities linked to the Catholic Church and also removed the legal personality of Cáritas de Nicaragua, stopping the social service action of the Catholic Church in the country.

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(ZENIT News / Managua, 03.13.2023) An official Decree cancelled the five venues of the John Paul II University and the six venues of the Autonomous Christian University of Nicaragua “for being in default of their obligations in keeping with the laws that regulate them.” The Resolution was signed by the Minister of the Interior, Maria Amelia Coronel Kinloch, Head of Nicaragua’s Ministry of the Interior. 

The properties of both Universities were transferred to the State, in keeping with the regulation of Law 1115 on non-profit organizations. According to a Government dictate, the students will integrate in other Universities. The process of the State’s appropriation  of these institutions and its properties is in line with the suppression of liberties proper of the Ortega regime. 

The reason given by the authorities is that these Universities “have hindered the control and vigilance of the General Directorate of Registration and Control of Non-Profit Organizations,” reported AFP. 

The actions of nationalization and control of the country were also manifested last Monday, March 6, with the cancelation of the legal entity  of 18 businessmen’s Associations, such as the Higher Council of Private Companies, which brings together other employers’ chambers. The closure of the Universities was decreed the following day, Tuesday the 7th.

The Ministry of the Interior ordered the authorities of both Universities to hand over to the Universities’ National Council “all information on students, docents, careers, study plans, enrolment databases and qualifications that exist in the Academic Registry.”

Harsh Sanctions Against Caritas, One of the Principal Social Charity Organizations

Shortly after, the Sandinista Government cancelled the legal entity of Caritas-Nicaragua. The decision was approved by the Minister of the Interior, Maria Amelia Coronel Kinloch, in keeping with the Ministerial Agreement published in the Official Journal La Gaceta. The cancelation of the juridical entity follows from the “voluntary dissolution and liquidation of the said organization,” agreed unanimously by its members, declared — according to the Ministry of the Interior –, in the extraordinary session of January 31, reported EFE Agency. 

Caritas-Nicaragua is the Catholic Church’s social pastoral organization to aid the poor, both for the provision of food and medicine as well as advice to immigrants or people risking social exclusion. 

The closure of this Catholic association is relevant  as it won the International Prize for Women Cultivators of Development in 2015, which CELAM’s Caritas Social Pastoral grants, for their social action in promoting the development of women in rural areas, a prize worth US$10,000. 

Caritas-Nicaragua obtained legal status on November 30, 1994. Its current President was Monsignor Sócrates René Sándigo Jirón, Bishop of the Diocese of León and Chinandega.

This Decree reflects the framework of the massive illegalization of Nicaraguan and foreign NGOs of the Government headed by Daniel Ortega. It’s one more act of blockade by the Sandinista Executive of the Nicaraguan Catholic Church, such as the arrest of Bishop Rolando Álvarez, sentenced to 26 years and four months in prison for “betrayal of the homeland,” by refusing to be banished.

President Ortega has attacked repeatedly what he calls the “mafia of the Catholic Church.” He accuses it of being anti-democratic for impeding the election of the Pope, Cardinals, Bishops and priests by the direct vote of Catholics. 

Likewise, he also approved the cancellation by voluntary dissolution of the legal entity of the Diocesan Caritas Association of Jinotega, Caritas-Jinotega, registered since September 22, 2006 as a regional institution of Catholic Social Pastoral Care. 

Caritas-Nicaragua had already lamented the customs blockade of the Ortega Government , imposed since 2019, impeding the reception of foreign donations of food, medicine, means of support for needy people and financial contributions. 

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Rafael Llanes

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