Dean of Confiscated University Threatened in Nicaragua

Daniel Ortega’s Council of Universities threatens to accuse UCAN dean if she challenges annulment of legal status

UCAN Dean, Jeannette Bonilla, during the opening ceremony of the 2023 academic year, held on March 4, 2023. Photo: UCAN.

Dean Jeannette Bonilla refused to hand over the academic records of her thousands of students, for which a Commission held her in contempt.

By Confidencial

HAVANA TIMES – The National Council of Universities (CNU) has threatened to denounce “before the corresponding authorities” the Autonomous Christian University of Nicaragua (UCAN), after Dean Jeannette Bonilla refused to deliver the academic records of the students and requested more time to challenge a resolution of the Ministry of the Interior (MIGOB), through which they summarily cancelled the legal status of the university.

“In view of the defunct UCAN refusing to turn over the academic information, we closed the minutes and withdrew from the premises, in order to file a complaint before the corresponding national authorities for non-compliance of what was ordered in the ministerial agreement,” indicated the CNU in a statement.

The legal status of the UCAN was annulled this Tuesday, March 7, together with that of the Juan Pablo II University. Both universities, allegedly, were not certified in quality indicators and did not report “their financial status, explanations on their patrimony, expenditures of funds, increases and decreases of accounts without notifying.”

UCAN has its main headquarters in Leon and others in Chinandega, Esteli, Chontales, Masaya and Matagalpa.

The decision to close down the two universities was published on Tuesday in the official Gazette newspaper. The CNU commission arrived on Wednesday at noon at the UCAN headquarters in Leon, to demand the delivery of academic information to relocate the students.

The CNU stated that, despite the fact that Bonilla asked for more time to file an appeal, the coordinator of the Commission, Linda Ramirez, demanded that the delivery of academic records begin, for which the dean again reiterated that she “will make use of her legal rights.”

“For now we will not deliver the requested information, since it is the soul of the institution and until MIGOB’s decision is firm, we cannot deliver the information. Subsequently, once the administrative process has been exhausted, we will proceed to the formal delivery of the established information,” the Dean told the CNU commission.

The CNU forbids giving students their academic files

The CNU also published another order in which it prohibited the UCAN from handing over its academic information to the students, since according to them, after the cancellation of the legal status, the university officials “no longer had authority in the university.”

UCAN was founded 25 years ago and is one of the biggest and most popular universities in western Nicaragua. As described on its website, it has a total enrollment of 6,375 students at its six campuses. Its academic program includes 25 degrees, and each year it awards scholarships valued at about 27,000 dollars for high school graduates to study medicine on its main campus.

MIGOB’s resolution established that both the UCAN and the Juan Pablo II University, with campuses in Managua, Granada, Matagalpa, Juigalpa, and Chontales must hand over “quickly and orderly” the academic registry to the CNU, which will relocate the enrolled students in other member universities. Likewise, all infrastructure and other assets will be transferred to the state.

The Juan Pablo II University, Managua branch, regretted the abrupt cancellation of its legal status and assured that they will proceed with handing over the documentation. “Let us not forget that our Lord is the owner of our history and that in the most adverse moments He has sustained us and will continue to do so.”

This university was founded as part of an initiative of Monsignor Bernardo Hombach, director of Caritas Nicaragua; Monsignor Pablo Schmitz; and two other German volunteers: Huldegard Peters and Heiner Flototto. The Matagalpa branch was administered by the diocese of that department.

The director was Father Ramiro Tijerino, who was also arrested with Monsignor Rolando Alvarez and was expelled from Nicaragua and declared stateless on February 9.

UNIVAL introduced appeals

The Ortega government has cancelled the legal status of at least 19 private universities, including 13 national and six foreign ones. Among these stands out the Universidad Hispanoamericana (UHISPAM), Universidad Politecnica de Nicaragua (UPOLI), Universidad Paulo Freire, Universidad Católica del Tropico Seco (UCATSE). After the closure of these universities, the regime created three new state universities that in practice operate as private.

The Universidad de la Integración de America Latina (UNIVAL), which lost its legal status on December 14, 2022, by order of CNU, was the only one to file an appeal before the Supreme Court against MIGOB, the CNU and the National Council of Evaluation and Accreditation. However, this was declared inadmissible due to “lack of legal standing.”

Therefore, they ordered UNIVAL to promptly deliver the information of students, professors, degrees, curriculum, enrollment databases and grades.

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