The closure of the Central American University in Managua reaffirms the Ortega regime’s degenerative and arbitrary character.
HAVANA TIMES – The Central American University of Nicaragua (UCA), an emblematic bastion of academic rigor, free thinking and intellectual independence in the country, has become the most recent victim of the repressive leap backward unleashed by the dictatorship of Daniel Ortega.
On Tuesday, August 15, the regime’s categoric decision was executed with complete docility by a Managua judge who ordered the closure of the institution, the impounding of all its assets, and the freezing of its bank accounts and other financial holdings. The measures also extended to its principal authorities.
Ortega’s declaration of “Death to Intelligence” couldn’t be any more resounding and grotesque. Although 26 other institutions of Nicaraguan higher education had already met the same fate, as part of the lunge for total control executed since April 2018 by the clique in power, the stature and symbolism of the UCA are legendary. Founded by the Jesuits in 1960, it was the first private university opened in Central America.
From that time on, the UCA has been directly linked with quality preparation and investigation, as well as the promotion of critical inquiry, autonomy, openness, integrity, individual dignity, and freedom – values that should serve as pillars of every educational institution. Unfortunately, that’s what it’s now paying the price for.
While the decision itself is arbitrary and aberrant, the spurious justification it’s based on is even more so, labeling its directors “traitors to the Nicaraguan people;” accusing them of threatening “in a continuous way the independence, peace, national sovereignty and self-determination;” and of inciting “the destabilization of the country, injuring the supreme interests of the nation and international human rights treaties.” In addition, they attribute actions to them that – according to the libelous accusation – not only go against “international human rights treaties and agreements,” but also alter “peace, security, and the constitutional order.”
Their cynicism couldn’t be any greater and is surpassed only by the consequences of dismantling a center of higher education that included over 5,000 students and 546 professors and researchers who were preparing to resume classes (after semester break). Contrary to the absurd official justification, the violation of those treaties, those rights, that peace and constitutional order, comes precisely, from the regime. There’s a reason that the UN Secretary General Antonio Gutierres, declared: “A State that closes a university or other educational institutions for such motives as national security or the preservation of public order, bears the burden of justifying such a grave measure.” Ortega, far from explaining, because he can’t, has only thrown curtains of toxic smoke that convince no one.
In addition, in one of his many exercises of cynical rhetorical cross-dressing, now with macabre features, on August 17, the dictatorship announced that the UCA would be reopened under the name Casimiro Sotelo Montenegro National University. That’s the name of a student who was murdered by the dictatorship of Anastasio Somoza, precisely for having challenged repression and fought for freedom, just like so many of the young victims who have been massacred, imprisoned, or exiled for standing up to Ortega.
The mix of arbitrariness, groveling, repression, disdain, and regression that the dictator flaunts with this measure and others that have preceded it, is unparalleled. Not even Somoza reached such extremes during the harshest moments of his dynasty. It appears that, for Ortega, the future of the country, which depends on its youth, their education, and their academic formation, is totally irrelevant. For him, the only thing that exists is the immediate need to continue in power at all costs, while around him the economy collapses, society breaks apart, the population is paralyzed, and the most elemental rights evaporate.
We will never tire of repeating what we’ve said on other occasions: while the resources the Nicaraguan people possess are extremely limited, those of the international community are broad. The regime can’t be changed from outside, but through a more active, broad, and sustained solidarity, it can be weakened ever more. At its root, the closure of the UCA is a demonstration of brute force to compensate the regime’s acute structural weaknesses. It’s also a road without a future.