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A Nicaraguan court ordered the confiscation of all assets belonging to a prestigious Jesuit-run university this week, the latest measure in a crackdown by the government against the Catholic clergy and church-affiliated institutions, Reuters reported.
The Central American University (UCA) said it had received a letter from a criminal court this week accusing it of being a “center for terrorism organized by criminal groups.”
The official document added that all of the university’s assets would be transferred to the government.
UCA denied the accusations and announced it would suspend all its classes and administrative activities without giving a restart date.
Many regional Jesuit and Catholic groups decried the court order and described the seizures as “part of a series of unjustifiable attacks” on Nicaraguans.
The 63-year-old university is one of Central America’s top private institutions of higher learning.
Observers noted that it was the alma mater of the many student leaders that participated in the 2018 protests against the government of President Daniel Ortega. More than 360 people died in those demonstrations, mostly at the hands of authorities and government-affiliated forces, according to human rights groups.
The institution had already been targeted by the government: Officials froze the university’s bank accounts and last year barred its rector from returning to Nicaragua after traveling to Mexico.
The recent seizures follow escalating tensions between the government and Nicaragua’s Catholic Church, whose leaders acted as mediators in the aftermath of the 2018 protests.