Ortega Cancels Legal Status of Jesuit Society in Nicaragua

Maintenance workers remove the Christ from the chapel of the Central American University (UCA), on August 16, 2023. | Photo: Courtesy

The confiscation order is for all assets from the organization, which had two properties. One was seized in advance by the Police, who expelled six Jesuits.

By Confidencial

HAVANA TIMES – Daniel Ortega’s Ministry of the Interior (Migob) canceled this Wednesday, August 23, the legal status of the Nicaraguan Society of Jesus Association, linked to the Jesuit order. The elimination is given based on a catch-all law used to eliminate most of the country’s civil society non-profit organizations.

The head of Migob, María Amelia Coronel Kinloch, claimed the Jesuits “did not report their financial statements or changes in their board of directors for the years 2020, 2021 and 2022.” The organization had been registered since May 16, 1995.

Migob did not accept the documentation

Each year, the Association had brought all the required documentation, but Migob authorities —without giving them an explanation— never accepted them, Jose Maria Tojeira, spokesperson for Nicaragua for the Central American Province of the Company of Jesus, explained to CONFIDENCIAL.

“They submitted the annual reports on time, but they were not accepted and they did not tell them anything in writing, no observation or reason why they did not receive them. So, theoretically, they now appear as not presented,” said the former rector of the Central American University (UCA) of El Salvador.

Tojeira noted that the association served to transfer funds to the elderly priests, including the 99-year-old scientist Adolfo Lopez de la Fuente, known throughout the world for the discovery of mollusks.

The Mingob head assured that “by not reporting its financial statements the Association of the Society of Jesus of Nicaragua hinders control and surveillance of the Association”.

This is the same argument that the dictatorship has used to cancel more than 3,200 NGOs in the last five years.

The association had two properties

The cancellation comes days after the dictatorship confiscated the Central American University (UCA), property of the Jesuits.

The robbery of the UCA was carried out on August 16 and two days later the regime installed the Casimiro Sotelo National University.

Mingob said the properties of the Association “will correspond” to the Attorney General’s Office to transfer them to the name of the State.

Tojeira explained that the association had two properties in Managua. The first was the Villa Carmen residence, located next to the UCA, from where the Police expelled six Jesuit priests. “They were kicked out before suppressing the association, when it was still owned by the Society of Jesus.”

The other property functioned as a home for Jesuit students who received scholarships from the organization.

Attempt to eliminate the presence of Jesuits in Nicaragua

In addition to the UCA, the Society of Jesus of Nicaragua is linked to the Loyola Institute and the Colegio Centroamerica, with 76 years and 106 years since their foundations, respectively. However, both educational institutions, with primary and secondary education, have separate legal status.

“This is one more step against the Society of Jesus in Nicaragua. I know that it will affect the care of the Jesuits, support for the elderly and some works of the Society of Jesus”, said Tojeira.

“It is possible,” he continued, “that this is a way to completely eliminate the Society’s presence in Nicaragua.”

The Society of Jesus, to which Pope Francis belongs, is the largest male religious order in the Catholic Church with more than 16,000 members, as indicated on its website.

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