Managua University Students Reject the Rector’s Line

The protest against the Ortega regime began with the university students. Photo: Carlos Herrera / Niu

 

The organized group of university students termed Ramona Rodriguez a “hypocrite” for speaking about peace while acting “on the side of the regime”.

By Franklin Villavicencio  (Confidencial)

HAVANA TIMES – Students organized in the University Action movement at the Managua campus of the Nicaraguan National Autonomous University (UNAN) rejected the speech offered by the university’s rector, Ramona Rodriguez, during a session of the Central American Superior University Council, held in Managua. The organized group of students declared that Rodriguez was a “hypocrite” to speak of peace when she’s consistently taken “the side of the Ortega regime and of the repression” exercised against the students.

“It seemed an act of hypocrisy to us. At the same time, we’re aware of the accolades she showers the government with,” affirmed Joel Herrera, a student and member of the University Action, a student movement in Managua’s UNAN that arose from the civil rebellion of April 2018. The University Action movement demands university autonomy and democratic elections within the public universities.

In her address, Rodriguez declared that “in the context of the current upheaval,” the universities “should contribute to peace”. Nonetheless, in the wake of the paramilitary attack of July 13, 2018, in which two students were killed and dozens were wounded, the rector did not condemn that violence, nor did she take the side of the students. Rather, 82 university students were expelled, in what some of the student movements classified as a “reprisal” from the authorities for participation in the youth rebellion.

Rodriguez also failed to mention the importance of the universities as centers of thought, where there’s freedom for the faculty, as is mentioned in Nicaraguan Law # 89, the Law of University Autonomy. Rather, she emphasized the University for Peace program being promoted by the National Council of Universities. The supposed objectives of this plan are “to promote peace and reconciliation”. The program is an extension of other strategies being aired in the speeches of Ortega and Murillo. Different sectors of society have pointed out that there can’t be “peace and reconciliation” without justice.

Students who had been occupying the UNAN in Managua in July 2018. Photo: Carlos Herrera / Niu

“If there were truly a commitment of that kind, she wouldn’t have expelled 82 students,” Herrera asserted. “If they want to speak of a program for peace, they must delineate the functions of the national police, which has been operating as a repressive force. If they really believe in peace, then they should reinstate the students who were expelled,” he adds.

The expulsions of these students were public, alleging that those expelled had participated in the barricades, had employed artifacts for physical aggression and had engaged in delinquent acts. The sanctions were approved by a Special Commission that was installed after the occupying students were forcibly removed by the police and paramilitary.

Ramona Rodriguez made no mention of these events in her speech to the Central American council and concluded her speech with the regime’s propaganda slogan: “Nicaragua wants peace”.

“We invite you to enjoy this short stay in Nicaragua, this country of lakes and volcanoes, of history and traditions, but above all with a people who welcome you and tell you that Nicaragua wants peace… Central America needs peace, and we in the universities have great opportunities to contribute,” stated the rector, who is also president of Nicaragua’s National Council of Universities.

The UNAN in Managua was the venue for the 114th Ordinary Session of the Council, bringing together the rectors from universities around Central America to speak on topics of the regional integration in higher education.



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