In a continuous crackdown against dissent, Nicaragua shut down two universities with ties to the Catholic Church on Tuesday, Mar. 7, just one day after removing the legal status of 18 employer unions.

Closing Two Catholic Universities

According to The Manila Times, when anti-government rallies in 2018 were violently put down, leaving more than 350 dead, hundreds imprisoned, and more than 100,000 people in exile, rights groups, the United Nations, and Western governments have accused Pres. Daniel Ortega's government illegally attempted to destroy all opposition. The measures taken against the universities, spread out over multiple cities, were detailed in the gazette officially known as La Gaceta. According to the government's assertions, these organizations, much like the unions, violated the law somehow, resulting in their legal existence's cancellation.

The universities were given the order to pass over all their information regarding students, teachers, study programs, and other details to the National Council of Universities in the Central American country. All university property will be turned over to the state, and the thousands of students who attend the universities will be transferred to other schools approved by CNU. The Mariana Foundation for Cancer Awareness, also connected to the church, had its legal status revoked by the order due to allegations that it had violated financial regulations somehow.

As per the UCA News, officials of the church who have condemned human rights violations have come into conflict with Ortega's government, which is already under sanctions from the United Nations for a wide range of authoritarian acts. They include the imprisonment of hundreds of critics, including several potential opponents to Ortega, who were locked up before the presidential elections in 2021. They were also among the 222 political prisoners who were unexpectedly deported to the United States at the end of the previous month and had their citizenship revoked, along with dozens of others.

On Monday, Mar. 6, the government of the Central American nation stripped almost all of the employer associations of their legal standing, citing "inconsistencies" in their financial accounts and "violations" of the process by which they registered as organizations in the country. A dozen different groups and the private banks association were also deemed illegal by the police one month ago. Since 2020, the ability to conduct business has been revoked for almost 2,000 associations, non-governmental organizations, and employer unions.

Also Read: Pope Francis Speaks Out for Imprisoned Bishop in Nicaragua: A Cry for Justice and Freedom

Closure of Catholic Radio Stations

AP News reported that Nicaraguan authorities issued an order to close down six radio stations affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church in 2022. During the service, the Rev. Rolando Alvarez, who serves as the Bishop of the Northern Province of Matagalpa, shared with the congregation that he had recently been informed of the closures through a letter sent to him by the state's telecommunications agency, Telcor.

Alvarez referred to the action as "an injustice" and requested the director of Telcor to demonstrate that it was legitimate. He also mentioned that the police had taken control of the parish house in Sebaco, which was the location of one of the radio stations. Sebaco is about 105 kilometers north of Managua. The government has refrained from making any public statements regarding the shuttering of radio stations. In recent weeks of 2022, Ortega's government has ended operations at more than a thousand non-governmental organizations.

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