On Wednesday, October 25, El Salvador’s “Jose Simeon Cañas” Central American University and Guatemala’s “Rafael Landivar” University, both Jesuit-run centers, officially opened their admission procedures for students from the shuttered and confiscated Central American University (UCA) in Managua, Nicaragua.
“With pleasure, we inform you that, beginning immediately, the process of requesting admission has been opened in both the “Jose Simeon Cañas” Central American University (UCA) and the “Rafael Landivar” University (URL),” read the announcement from the universities’ inter-institutional commission. The commission, made up of representatives from these two schools, released the information in an e-mail directed to former UCA students in Nicaragua, which the EFE agency was able to access.
Authorities from these two universities say that over three thousand university students – approximately 60% of the more than 5,000 students formerly attending the UCA in Nicaragua – had asked to be allowed to continue their studies at the Jesuit universities in El Salvador or Guatemala.
Jesuit network seeking scholarship help
Both Central American Universities, like the confiscated UCA in Nicaragua, are part of the Association of Universities Entrusted to the Society of Jesus in Latin America, a network of thirty Jesuit Universities from Mexico to Argentina. The Nicaraguan student movements have asked them to welcome the former UCA students, either in person or online, to the two closest campuses.
Last week, the Company of Jesus, the Roman Catholic order to which Pope Frances belongs, informed that they’re staging a fund-raising campaign to support scholarships for those Nicaraguan UCA students who desire and have the means to continue their studies next year at the UCA in El Salvador or the URL of Guatemala. The scholarships would not be a guaranteed benefit, but only for some.
Among the requirements to apply for a scholarship are: submit a Nicaraguan photo of ID or passport size; personal information including full name, age, the career track they were studying in Nicaragua, and the current country of residence).
Government closure of the Nicaraguan UCA
The Jesuit University in Managua was considered one of the last bastions of academic freedom and critical thinking in Nicaragua. It was summarily shuttered and confiscated on August 17 last year, after the Ortega regime’s Interior Ministry baselessly accused it of being a “center of terrorism.”
One day later, the government headed by Daniel Ortega posted in the official government bulletin La Gazeta, a notice from the Interior Ministry approving the cancellation of the UCA’s legal status, a status first granted the university on August 13, 1960.
On the afternoon of the same day that the UCA’s legal status was canceled, Nicaragua’s government-run National Council of Universities announced the inauguration of the “Casimiro Sotelo” National University on the confiscated campus. However, two months later, the “new” university has yet to begin its administrative and academic work.
Five days after these events, on August 23, the Ministry also cancelled the legal status of the Association of the Company of Jesus in Nicaragua, linked to the Jesuit order. At the same time, they ordered the confiscation of all the order’s buildings and personal property.
Between December 2021 and August 2023, the Ortega dictatorship has closed and confiscated 27 private universities in Nicaragua, using their campuses to set up substitute state-run universities. These universities continue charging students for tuition as if they were private, although they are now receiving a portion of the 6% of the annual budget that Nicaragua earmarks for its universities.
This article was originally published in Spanish in Confidencial and translated by Havana Times.