We the undersigned–professors, independent researchers and members of different academic institutions committed to academic freedom and the right to education–emphatically reject the campaign of harassment and criminalization that culminated in the closure and seizure of the Universidad Centroamericana (UCA).
On August 17, a judicial ruling by a court controlled by Nicaragua’s executive branch paved the way for the government’s definitive closure of the Universidad Centroamericana. In the preceding days, the government had frozen the university’s bank accounts and assets, and suspended operation of its legal aid clinic and mediation center.
Since 2018, the UCA has been the victim of systematic smear campaigns, attacks on its physical facilities, and the forced exile of its president, Father José Idiáquez S.J., and its vice-president, Dr. Jorge Huete. Since 2018, the government allocated budget, which in previous years had totaled as much as 251 million córdobas annually, has been drastically reduced. By 2021, this budget had been cut to one million córdobas. In March 2022, the National Assembly passed a law that excluded the UCA from the National Council of Universities (CNU), and consequently from receiving the 6% constitutional budget allocation, which the UCA had used to finance scholarships benefiting 60% of its student body.
This action on the part of the Nicaraguan government clearly demonstrates its contempt for the freedom, quality education, critical thinking and values that have been promoted at this university for the past 63 years. The UCA has educated thousands of professionals in a variety of disciplines, has maintained a sustained commitment to social justice, and has promoted valuable scientific research in different fields, bringing this institution both national and international prestige. In 2010, the UCA ranked first among Nicaragua’s 52 institutions of higher learning, according to the World University Ranking published annually by the Spanish National Research Council (Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas). And in 2012, the Quacquarelli Symonds Ranking (QS) included the UCA among the 250 most prestigious institutions of higher learning in Latin America (C. Tunnermann, La Prensa, August 15, 2023).
Therefore, in light of the loss this signifies for Nicaraguan society, we most energetically condemn and denounce the illegal confiscation of the property and assets of the UCA.
We express our solidarity with the authorities of the UCA, the Society of Jesus, and with more than five thousand students, faculty and administrative staff who are affected by this arbitrary measure and whose futures are now uncertain.
We call on educational institutions and academics in the region and around the world to express their solidarity with the UCA.