Nicaraguan authorities froze the bank accounts of the country’s top private university, a source from the institution told Reuters, marking the latest move against a Catholic-led institution in an ongoing crackdown by the government.
The Jesuit-run Central American University (UCA) is the alma mater of many youth leaders who protested the government of President Daniel Ortega in 2018, which were initially triggered by old-age pension cuts.
The protests turned violent, and rights groups blamed Ortega’s police and other government-affiliated security forces for killing more than 300 civilians.
“I can tell you that the accounts are frozen. We are trying to find out what is going on but we don’t want to cause alarm,” said a university official who requested anonymity to speak candidly.
Earlier on Wednesday, digital news outlet Divergentes reported that UCA officials sent an email to staff and students advising that they were not receiving any payments due to reasons beyond their control.
The government did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
In May, authorities also froze bank accounts belonging to Catholic parishes across the country as prosecutors launched what they called a money laundering investigation. Officials have also arrested and jailed priests including Bishop Rolando Alvarez, a major Ortega critic.
Catholic church leaders had acted as mediators in the aftermath of the 2018 protests.
Founded in 1960, UCA graduates include many from Nicaragua’s political and business class, including Ortega who began law studies there in 1962 before leaving to join the Sandinista rebel movement. Three of his sons later studied there.
The university had already been singled out for budget cuts and its leaders targeted, including UCA rector and Jesuit priest Jose Idiaquez who last year was barred from returning to Nicaragua after traveling to Mexico. — Reuters