The Central American University (UCA) in Managua announced Wednesday it had ceased all academic and administrative operations effective immediately, after a criminal court ordered its property and financial accounts transferred to the government. Previously, the Nicaraguan government falsely accused the Jesuit university of being a “center of terrorism”.

In a statement, the UCA reiterated its commitment to Nicaraguan society and thanked students, teachers, administrators, and Nicaraguan society for their “confidence, solidarity, and closeness” with the university.

The Jesuit Province of Central America also released a statement (Spanish | English) denouncing the Nicaraguan government. Entitled “In Defense of Truth, Justice, Freedom, and the Right to Education and in Support of UCA of Nicaragua”, the statement condemned the move as “part of a series of unjustified attacks” by a government “that systematically violates human rights and seems to be aimed at consolidating a totalitarian state”.

Speaking for the US government, Ambassador Brian A. Nichols, Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs, said the seizure of UCA represented “further erosion of democratic norms and a stifling of civic space … we will continue to stand up for Nicaraguans’ fundamental rights.”

The seizure is the latest in a pattern of attacks by the government against UCA, which started in 2018 when students protesting government repression took to the university for refuge.

Founded in 1960, UCA Managua stood as a beacon of intellectual and social progress in Nicaragua for over six decades. The university played a pivotal role during the tumultuous 1970s and 1980s when the country grappled with political upheaval and civil unrest. UCA’s commitment to social justice, human rights, and community engagement made it a safe haven for democratic thinking.

“UCA’s commitment to quality education and social justice in Nicaragua cannot be overstated,” said Magis Americas executive director Nate Radomski. “We stand in solidarity with the entire UCA community.”