Teachers Denounce Arbitrary Firings in Nicaragua

Unidad Sindical Magisterial [“United Association of Teachers”] denounces the arbitrary firing of seven teachers in the last weeks of May. Photo: Ministry of Education.

A member of the independent teachers’ group warns they expect to see more selective firings of teachers. In general, the representative says, teachers are working in a hostile environment.

By Confidencial

HAVANA TIMES – The Unidad Sindical Magisterial denounced the unjustified firing of at least seven educators from different zones of Nicaragua during the last two weeks of May. One teacher, who belongs to the independent association, stated they can’t discount the possibility that more teachers may lose their jobs, as a result of the pressures the sector faces in a system dominated by authorities who march to the tune of the ruling Sandinista party. The teacher asked to be identified only with the alias of “Karla”, to avoid reprisals.

In past instances where teachers have been let go, they received letters of notification that their contracts were being suspended, but there was no mention of statutes or laws broken. This group, however, were issued letters in their respective offices of the Ministry of Education stating they were being fired based on the application of Article 32, paragraph 4 of Law #114, the Law of Educational Careers, which stipulates that educators’ services should be ended: “in cases of conduct that gravely contradicts professional ethics as framed in this law.”

The recent letters also accused the teachers of non-compliance with the Code of Ethics for Public Servants. In article 13, part B, this document states: “public servants should completely abstain from exercising their duties or authority with goals that diverge from the public interest. To such effect, they shouldn’t in any way mix their private lives with the fulfillment of the responsibilities they’re charged with, nor utilize these for harassing, stalking, or seduction of any kind.”

“Karla” explained that one of the intimidation tactics the Ministry of Education (Mined) is using to pressure the teachers, especially the men, is to threaten them with trials for sexual harassment. For that reason, the teachers affected by the current firings – two from the North Caribbean Region, three from Managua, and two from Tipitapa – prefer to channel the complaints about their cases through the USM and avoid going public with their names.

One of the teachers agreed to speak anonymously with Confidencial. He said he received a phone call from the municipal Mined office asking him to come in. When he entered, he was surprised to see police surrounding the offices. He went in, and the HR representative handed him his pink slip without offering any kind of an explanation.

This teacher had 35 years of experience behind him. He thinks that the authorities expected a different kind of reaction from him, and that’s why the police were outside. However, he merely thanked them and left.

The teacher affirmed that his firing was a “political reprisal,” since the educational authorities know very well “that I don’t toe their [political] line,” Before handing him his termination notice, the teacher had dealt with a number of pressures that sought to push him into quitting his job. At the same time, he clarified that he doesn’t understand the application of articles of law against him, since he’s never had any problems in the schools or received any verbal warnings. Given that, he believes it’s “not fair what they did.”

Teachers completely vulnerable

“Karla” explained that the teachers are completely vulnerable, because there’s nowhere they can go to defend their rights. Added to this is the fear that threats of jail time could be made real.

“They’re going to be laying them off, one by one. Because it doesn’t suit them [the educational authorities] to create a large fuss like in 2018. They’ve already identified all the teachers that aren’t with them [the Ortega forces],” the teacher denounced.

Another teacher who’s a native of Tipitapa, declared that the authorities took advantage of a particular discipline problem he had with a student to pressure him into turning in his letter of resignation, under the threat that if he didn’t do so, they’d open a court case against him.

The USM warned that more teachers may possibly have been fired recently, but there’s a lot of fear of denouncing such cases among those in the profession.

They advise all the teachers to fulfill the demands of the Ministry of Education, even when this means tying educational activities in with those of Ortega’s party. This compliance is necessary to avoid difficult situations that could be used to cancel their contracts.

According to the USM, from April 2018 to May 2021, 139 teachers have been fired. Many of them were called “traitors, terrorists and criminals” because they supported the students in the protests; some had to go into exile due to the threats against them, indicates the association, which is currently engaged in systematizing the data on the teachers who’ve been fired for political reasons.

Read more from Nicaragua here on Havana Times



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