Nicaragua: The Monstrous Pretext for Confiscating the UCA

The Central American University in Managua, Nicaragua

When the shadows who have stolen these installations have finally gone, we will recover it and send them to the garbage bin of history…

By Silvio Prado (Confidencial)

HAVANA TIMES – It was no secret to anyone that the dictatorship had their sights set on the Central American University (UCA), since its existence was a knife to the heart of the fanaticism that the Ortega regime cultivates. It was already known as the one institution of free thinking that hadn’t yet been mowed down in the campaign of national destruction being carried out at the hands of the barbarians. What went beyond the imagination of even the most empty-headed, was that the pretext used by that unfortunate judge to confiscate it was an accusation of terrorism.

In the UCA, students were taught to think, to debate and to find alternative solutions to the official discourses. Those of us who had the good luck to pass through its halls learned that there are no absolute truths, that the body of knowledge built over centuries is the best antidote to superficial and undocumented propaganda. In building this awareness, we had the help of a demanding but understanding body of professors, who were competent but not arrogant, highly trained and up-to-date. At the same time, they were also open to learning from their students. We learned from Balbino Suazo the epistemology that concepts are hidden; that the construction of problems isn’t innocent; that, as Klaus Kuhnekath stressed, a good researcher shouldn’t limit themselves to describing the outer shell of the snail, but also aspire to knowing the little animal that lives within.

We learned that doubting is the best quality for growth, but the worst obstacle to the fanaticism that follows the slogans with no reflection. For these things, the UCA was the splinter in the dictatorship’s eye.

Curiously, the absurd arguments used by the Ortega camp are the same ones that the Salvadoran military regime used to order the assassination of other Jesuits in another UCA, in November 1989 – the university as a nest of terrorist subversion. If 34 years ago a dictatorship utilized the Atlacatl battalion to carry out their crime, today, other despots hid behind a poor devil of a woman to conjure up a threat that only a couple of deranged people who never set foot in a university could believe they saw. 

In the name of the same accusation, and with more evidence in hand, Somoza not only could have occupied the Nicaraguan National Autonomous University; he could have demolished it to the last brick. How many of us took our first steps in urban resistance in its halls and grounds? How many went from the Student Revolutionary Front directly to the guerrilla fight in the mountains? At that time, yes, the university was the greatest center of conspiracy against the Somoza dynasty. Tons of rebel propaganda came out of their print shops every day – manuals for constructing homemade bombs; how to assemble and disassemble the weapons that were snatched from the government thugs; and of course, Auditorium 12 was the largest public space in the country used for indoctrination and for organizing the demonstrations that challenged the regime. That, indeed, was a subversive school.

In contrast, in 2023, five years after the April explosion, what evidence does the Ortega camp have against the UCA? Where is the evidence of terrorism sheltered within the UCA, on which the female Ortega minion based her decision to authorize the theft? In five years, with all the tools of political espionage at their disposal, the Ortega regime was unable to present any evidence that the UCA’s halls were used to prepare any armed actions intended to instill terror indiscriminately among the population for political objectives.

The only thing the UCA authorities can be accused of is having opened their gates to give shelter to the population fleeing the massacre perpetrated by the snipers under orders from the dictatorship. What did they want? For them to deny all assistance, like the hospitals did, by order of the tyrants? To these “accusations” they could add the support of their rector, Father Idiaquez, for the national dialogue to find a peaceful way out of the crisis, in the same constructive spirit displayed by other academic authorities from other universities. Calling a bet on negotiation and peace, “terrorism”, can only be the fruit of unhinged minds, where everything is backwards, without any ethical or moral references tied to life and the common good. As with other authoritarian regimes, the excuse used is nothing but a smokescreen to dress in legal clothing their crushing of public liberties.

The UCA has been stolen because of what it signifies and has signified in the national life – a center of thinking, unconnected to the oppressors’ project. That’s why it deserved to disappear, because the regime was convinced that every day that it remained on its feet was a slap in their face. However, there are other reasons as well: ideological and economic.

The ideological reason could be found behind the persecution unleashed against the Catholic Church and the short-term pretension of establishing their own church, one that would be complacent with the outrages of the governing family. The economic reasons are more evident, given the economic value of the UCAs main campus and all that it contains: laboratories, libraries, documentation centers and the Historic Institute, to name just some. What might be the total economic value of everything they’re stealing? It’s no coincidence that the first thing they did was to immobilize all the assets attached to the UCA. What member of the Ortega-Murillo family or front man will be the recipient of this juicy pie?

With the theft of the UCA, they’re also sending a definitive message to society: in Nicaragua, as in the worst of the dystopian worlds, it’s dangerous to think for yourself, just as it’s dangerous to profess any other religion that isn’t the one the high priestess has authorized.

As for the henchwoman’s ruling for confiscation – a woman who, paradoxically, graduated from the UCA – the only thing she failed to do was to stage a gran finale by declaiming the same words as that monster of Spanish fascism: “Death to intelligence!”

The fanatics may erase the name “Central American University” from the façade and resort opportunistically to the memory of one who died fighting the Somoza dictatorship, but they’ll never be able to erase the echo of the words of Xabier Gorostiaga, calling on his classes to be ambitious for knowledge and innovation as their best bet for a better future. A promise that those who have confiscated the UCA with aspirations of restoring the Dark Ages and mediocrity can never fulfill. Those who fear the future always prefer taking refuge in the past.  

When the shadows who have stolen these installations have finally gone, we will recover it and send to the garbage bin of history the monsters who today try and cover up such a shameless robbery.

Read more from Nicaragua here on Havana Times