Ortega Shutters a Foundation Assisting Children & Teens

Photo: La Prensa

The Fabretto Foundation must stop attending more than 40 thousand children and adolescents after the annulment of its legal status

By La Prensa

HAVANA TIMES – Wilmer lives in a small community near La Cruz, not far from the municipal garbage dump in the city of Estelí. At 11 years old, he should be in fifth or sixth grade, but he has barely completed his first grade.

The extremely precarious conditions he lived in for many years with his mother, and the lack of attention, support and regular school attendance, led Wilmer to fall behind in school year after year. However, thanks to the efforts of his uncle Lucio and the support of the Fabretto Foundation, Wilber has been able to consolidate his studies.

Gledys is another girl who has benefitted from the Fabretto Foundation. She is 7 years old and lives in a rural area of the country. At her young age, she has been witnessed to how her studies have changed her life. Her family is very poor. Her mother, who was unable to finish elementary school, works in agriculture, but her daily income is less than 70 cordobas (less than two dollars).

“Before joining Fabretto, Gledys’ future seemed doomed to the same cycle of family poverty. But today, a better future for Gledys is possible,” the foundation shares on its official website.

Photo take from Facebook/Fabretto Foundation.

The opportunity that Wilmer and Gledys have had could come to an end after the dictatorship of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo annulled the legal status of 11 associations in Nicaragua, including the organization Familia Padre Fabretto, of which this foundation is a part. Thus, thousands of Nicaraguan families who benefited from the cooperation of this organization are now left in limbo.

The work of the Fabretto Foundation is in honor of the works initiated by Father Fabretto in 1953, and since then it has served children, families and communities in the most disadvantaged areas of the country to improve their future opportunities through education programs.

According to information available on the foundation’s website, the organization attends more than 40,000 children and adolescents, under early childhood, elementary and technical vocational education programs, among others.

“At Fabretto we are convinced that education empowers children and young people, the future leaders of Nicaragua, enabling them to break the cycle of poverty in which they live,” the foundation posted on its website.

Throughout history, rural communities have been forgotten by governments and quality education has not been a priority. However, this population has been supported in different sectors by different non-governmental organizations.

La Prensa visited the Fabretto Foundation’s offices in Managua on February 4 to learn about the future of the organization, but the security guard said the authorities were in a meeting and could not attend us.

The regime’s argument

But despite the reach that NGOs have in vulnerable communities, the Ortega regime accuses the organizations of “profiting” under the concept of “non-profit,” so they violate the law and should be sanctioned.

“There are many associations and foundations that cover themselves under the non-profit acronym, but what they do in practice is to profit from the same organizations that by law must be non-profit, thus violating Law 147, the Law that rules over non-profit legal entities,” said the Sandinista deputy Filiberto Rodríguez.

According to official information, the legal status of the Fabretto Foundation was approved by decree number 275, published in La Gazette number 143, of January 16, 2025, and was registered in the Department of Registration and Control of Non-Profit Civil Associations.

Fabretto Foundation’s educational community would also be affected because they would be left without employment. Photo/Courtesy/Fabretto Foundation.

Contrary to the regime’s statements about the foundation’s operation, in the official website the board of directors states that the comprehensive approach in education, health, food security and nutrition are “clear examples” that these types of programs “transcend the endemic poverty of personal and educational resources available to them to create real changes, especially sustainable ones.”

The foundation is present in the departments of: Nueva Segovia, Madriz, Estelí, Chinandega, Managua, Masaya, Granada and the South Caribbean Coast.

Father Fabretto’s legacy

The Fabretto Foundation was created in honor of Father Fabretto, an Italian Salesian missionary who arrived in Nicaragua in 1948 and set up oratories for children living in vulnerable situations, war orphans, abandoned or even abused.

Father Fabretto taught at the Salesian School in 1950. In 1951 he went on to serve in a parish in the city of Leon and later was transferred to Somoto, Madriz, where in April 1953 he founded his first oratory for children and adolescents at risk. That same year, in August, he got to know the town of San José de Cusmapa and fell in love with the region, according to “Magazine” journal.

Following the death of Father Fabretto, the Father Fabretto Family organization was legally established in Nicaragua in 1990. Kevin Marinacci, from the United States, is the president of the organization and his work team in Nicaragua is made up of former students of Father Fabretto.

Read more from Nicaragua here.