A Nicaraguan court declared the Jesuit-run Central American University a “centre of terrorism” on Wednesday (16 August), ordering the government to seize its assets.
Since widespread anti-government protests broke out in 2018, the administration of Nicaragua’s long-running leader Daniel Ortega has:
- 🎤 Detained several presidential candidates
- 🚓 Arrested dozens of opposition lawmakers
- 📜 Stripped hundreds of opposition figures of citizenship, and
- 🚫 Banned thousands of NGOs.
The Catholic Church had survived as one of Nicaragua’s few remaining independent (and vocal) institutions. But in the past year, authorities have:
- 📻 Shut down at least half a dozen Catholic radio stations
- ⛪ Sentenced a prominent Church leader to 26 years in prison, and now
- 🎓 Closed a leading Catholic university.
Intrigue’s take: Nicaragua is a predominantly Catholic nation, and polls suggest the Church remains the country’s most trusted institution.
But Mr. Ortega, a former guerrilla, has now shown himself willing to take down any institution, no matter how influential, that stands in his way.
Also worth noting:
- At least three of Ortega’s children reportedly attended Central American University.
- The cathedral in Managua sheltered student demonstrators during the 2018 unrest.
- US border agents encountered 165,000 Nicaraguans in FY2022 compared to 50,000 in FY2021.
- Ortega switched his country’s recognition from Taiwan to China in 2021.