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Confiscation of universities is “the biggest and most damaging” ordered by Ortega

The new universities created by the National Assembly are unconstitutional and put education and private property security at risk

The new universities created by the National Assembly are unconstitutional and put education and private property security at risk

Redacción Confidencial

9 de febrero 2022

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The creation of three new state universities from the assets of six universities that were canceled and intervened on February 7 under Ortega's orders is “clearly a confiscation”, which is prohibited by the Political Constitution of Nicaragua, according to Nicaraguan lawyers.

The deputies of the National Assembly, controlled by the Ortega government, approved the creation of the following universities without objections: Francisco Luis Espinoza Pineda, Universidad Nacional Politécnica (UNT) and the Universidad Nacional Multidisciplinaria Ricardo Morales Avilés. By founding these universities, they transfer the assets of the cancelled Universidad Politécnica de Nicaragua (Upoli), Universidad Popular Nicaragüense (Uponic), Universidad Católica del Trópico Seco (Ucatse), Universidad Nicaragüense de Estudios Humanísticos (Uneh), Universidad Paulo Freire (UPF) and Universidad Hispanoamericana (Uhispam), to the state. 


However, lawyer and notary public Martha Patricia Molina criticizes that the Nicaraguan State “is not guaranteeing the right to private property of movable and immovable goods and of the instruments and means of production”. 

The member of the Observatorio Pro Transparencia y Anticorrupción assures that “in other words, it is theft”, because “the State is stealing from you and gives you nothing in return”. She explains that Nicaraguan legislation does establish the figure of expropriation, which is subject “for reasons of public utility or social interest”. However, she indicates that in these cases the State has to compensate for the property that is being occupied economically, but this is not happening in the case of the canceled and occupied universities. 

A second jurist, who requested anonymity to avoid reprisals from Daniel Ortega's regime, agreed that the three laws approved by the National Assembly constitute “a defacto confiscation” and - in addition - fall into the illogical because “they intend to build on what has been illegalized without solution of continuity, that is to say, that “the universities that were already dissolved now magically become other universities. That is impossible,” he says.

“The biggest and most harmful confiscation”

For the jurist, the case of the Ricardo Morales Avilés National Multidisciplinary University is the most delicate, because he considers it a “it is a university mash-up”, in which the deputies joined four universities that were already dissolved and had different statutes, in such a way that “everything that is being arranged now contradicts those statutes”. 

“Here, everything will be put at risk from the outset, because it is ill-gotten,” the jurist points out. “Without fear of being mistaken, it can be assured that we are facing the most harmful and biggest confiscation that has been carried out in Nicaragua in the last decades”, he added. 

For her part, Molina considers that what is happening to the universities responds to “a more political than legal issue”, because article 125 of the Constitution establishes that “universities and technical education centers enjoy academic, financial, organic and administrative autonomy and are exempt from all taxes and fiscal, regional and municipal contributions and their assets and income may not be subject to intervention, expropriation or seizure. Except when the obligation asserted has its origin in civil, commercial or labor contracts, and this is not the case”, he stresses. 

In addition, the State - which should be the guarantor of the right to education - “is taking it upon itself to violate it”, using the domestic legal system “to give the appearance of legality”, adds Molina. 

Costa Rica expresses concern

The closing and subsequent confiscation of private universities in Nicaragua have generated concern in the region. The Foreign Minister of Costa Rica, Rodolfo Solano Quirós declared to local media that “Costa Rica supports the recent pronouncement of the National Council of Rectors of Costa Rica, which has raised its concern for the disrespect and violation of the autonomy of the Nicaraguan universities, as well as the violence and repression exercised against its student movement before the Central American University Superior Council (CSUCA)”.

The creation of the three new state universities, in a hasty act of the pro-Ortega steamroller in the National Assembly, occurred five days after the same Assembly canceled the legal status of five private universities, and the National Council of Universities (CNU) occupied their facilities. Two months prior, the Universidad Hispanoamericana (Uhispam) had also been canceled, bringing the total number of universities to six.

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Francisco Luis Espinoza Pineda National University

The first house of studies created this Monday was the Francisco Luis Espinoza Pineda National University, which will operate as a higher education center of the State, with legal personality, functional, technical, administrative and financial autonomy, its own patrimony, indefinite duration, and full capacity to acquire rights and contract obligations.

It will also be a member of the National Council of Universities and will be a “legal successor without solution of continuity of the extinct Universidad Católica Agropecuaria del Trópico Seco (Ucatse)”, says the first paragraph of article one. “In any legal instrument where the Ucatse, formerly known as the Francisco Luis Espinoza School of Agriculture and Livestock, is mentioned, it shall read: Francisco Luis Espinoza National University,” it continues. 

The new university will be located in the city of Estelí, in northern Nicaragua, and its rector will be appointed by the CNU. It will also be able to request that all real estate, tangible and intangible assets, means of transportation, and livestock that belonged and is registered in the name of the Ucatse, be transferred and registered “free of all taxes”.

National Polytechnic University (UNP)

Another state university created this Monday was the National Polytechnic University (UNP), which according to the deputies has the purpose of “guaranteeing the continuity of the academic programs that were offered by the extinct Polytechnic University of Nicaragua (Upoli), ensuring the same or higher academic quality and the safety of Nicaraguan students”.

As in the previous case, the UNP will enjoy “functional, technical, administrative and financial autonomy, its own patrimony, indefinite duration and full capacity to acquire rights and contract obligations”. Furthermore, the deputies warn that “any legal instrument where the Polytechnic University of Nicaragua (Upoli) is mentioned must read: National Polytechnic University (UNP)”. 

About the new university, it is only known that it will be located in the city of Managua, being able to establish branches in any part of the Nicaraguan territory. Its rector will be appointed by the CNU, for a period of four years, and the resources with which it is being constituted are “the goods of any nature, rights, assets, and obligations” that belonged to the former Upoli and the financial resources assigned by the State through the CNU.

Ricardo Morales Avilés National Multidisciplinary University

In addition, the new Ricardo Morales Avilés National Multidisciplinary University was created with the purpose of confiscating the academic programs offered by: the Hispano-American University (Uhispam), the Nicaraguan University of Humanitarian Studies (Uneh), the Popular University of Nicaragua (Uponic) and the Paulo Freire University (UPF).

The National Multidisciplinary University was also constituted as a higher education center of the State, with legal personality, functional, technical, administrative, and financial autonomy, its own patrimony, indefinite duration, and full capacity to acquire rights and contract obligations and is also a member of the CNU. 

This university will be headquartered in Managua and will receive all the assets that belonged to the canceled universities.

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This article was originally published in Spanish in Confidencial and translated by our staff

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Redacción Confidencial

Redacción Confidencial

Confidencial es un diario digital nicaragüense, de formato multimedia, fundado por Carlos F. Chamorro en junio de 1996. Inició como un semanario impreso y hoy es un medio de referencia regional con información, análisis, entrevistas, perfiles, reportajes e investigaciones sobre Nicaragua, informando desde el exilio por la persecución política de la dictadura de Daniel Ortega y Rosario Murillo.

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