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Nicaragua Seizes Universities, Inching Towards Dictatorship

MANAGUA, Nicaragua – Nicaragua’s politically lively pupil inhabitants, one of many final organizations in opposition to President Daniel Ortega’s authoritarian authorities, can be the most recent goal of widespread crackdowns. dissidents, with 5 non-public universities positioned below state management.

The federal government mentioned faculties have been stripped of their skill to function independently this month as a result of they didn’t adjust to monetary rules. Critics, nonetheless, see the transfer as Mr Ortega’s newest try and rein in challenges to the his grip on power.

Since final 12 months, his administration has jailed or positioned below home arrest of political activists and civil society leaders, raided media places of work, outlawed protests and closed doorways. dozens of NGOs. In November, Mr. Ortega ran for a fourth consecutive time period on a ballot without any credible challengersAnd win.

The college is without doubt one of the final remaining facilities of resistance.

The federal government mentioned the Nationwide Council of Universities, a state advisory physique, would oversee the establishments below its management. A ruling get together official final week labeled one other non-public college, which observers worry could possibly be topic to the subsequent takeover, as a hotspot of terrorism fueling violence and propaganda. false information.

Opposition activists and academia worry extra takeovers are imminent, and increasing repression would power universities to censor outspoken professors or college students. Academia additionally fears the standard of training will drop as unqualified authorities loyalists, hostile to training, flood the ranks.

Ernesto Medina, former dean of the León campus of the Nationwide Autonomous College of Nicaragua, one of many nation’s largest establishments, says the federal government takeover is a warning to about 30 non-public universities remaining.

“The sign is that if you wish to preserve your authorized standing, you could behave properly, be silent, don’t criticize something, don’t analyze something,” Mr. Medina mentioned. “That might kill the college.”

Mr Medina, like others, thought Mr Ortega would reject his repressive ways after locking down most of his political opposition assaults. election last year.

However following the transfer towards universities this month, Mr. Medina mentioned he believes the federal government is taking full management of the dictatorship. The second, he mentioned, is “the end result of a course of of decay of the complete institutional framework of the nation.”

An unofficial spokesman for Ortega and his spouse, Rosario Murillo, who can be his vice chairman, didn’t instantly reply to requests for remark.

Nicaragua’s conflict on mental area has dragged on for years. Since Mr Ortega got here to energy for a second time in 2007, he has moved to place public universities below his management by controlling unions of academics and college students.

In response to observers, the final word supply of opposition that also exists are non-public universities. However these turned the main focus of Mr Ortega’s fury in 2018, as college students took on probably the most highly effective current challenges to his energy, helped lead anti-government protests across the country. In response to human rights teams, the police crackdown on these protests left at the very least 350 folks useless.

Elthon Rivera, a pupil at one of many universities being forfeited, mentioned it was the second time he had seen his educational ambitions dashed below Mr Ortega.

Rivera was one in all about 150 college students expelled from state-run universities after the 2018 protests, when he put his medical training to follow wound care for college students who have been injured. police assault.

After being expelled from the state-run Nationwide Autonomous College of Nicaragua in August 2018, he mentioned his dream of changing into a health care provider was gone. Due to his help for the protesters, he mentioned, no public or non-public college would settle for him.

He feared he can be uneducated and jobless for the remainder of his life, he mentioned, till a 12 months later, when Paulo Freire College accepted him as a pupil. political science.

Now the federal government has seized the college, and Mr. Rivera is extra unsure about his future than ever.

“It weighed on me lots, when it felt like years had handed and I hadn’t achieved my educational targets,” mentioned Mr. Rivera. “I am 27 years outdated and I have not accomplished both of the 2 careers I pursued.”

“It was tough, very tough,” he added.

Adrián Meza, the rector of Paulo Freire College, mentioned that they’d offered all of the requested paperwork to the authorities however they refused to have a look at it, saying they might take over the college as a substitute.

“This can be a political regime that does not notice it is of the twenty first century,” mentioned Meza, including that he – like many Nicaraguans – lately fled to neighboring Costa Ricaworry of retaliation.

Among the many amenities confiscated this month was the Polytechnic College, which was the main focus of protests in 2018. On the time, college students occupied the campus for greater than 50 days, with cops and teams of safety guards typically raid the college to beat up protesters. fists, golf equipment and excessive caliber weapons.

Authorities officers “had a thorn of their eye and now they need to take away it,” mentioned Mr. Medina, who tried to barter with the federal government throughout these protests.

Since then, Ortega has sought to quash dissent in Nicaragua, imprisoning lots of of individuals, together with presidential candidates and college students, and forcing 1000’s extra into exile. .

The Group of American States rebuked Ortega final 12 months after the election, which many member states noticed as a hoax. Final week, a senior US official warned that Nicaragua was on observe to be expelled from the group if Ortega continued to crack down on opposition forces.

The newest authorities ways will possible add to the large surge of Nicaraguans, particularly younger folks, leaving the nation. Final 12 months, greater than 50,000 Nicaraguans have been detained by the US Border Patrol, a document, and a record number of people seek refuge in Costa Rica, the place hundreds of thousands of Nicaraguans lived.

Rivera, a school pupil, had resisted leaving Nicaragua for a few years. However final weekend, he additionally determined to run away to Costa Rica – with no plans for his future and solely a backpack.

“It is inevitable to really feel unhappy as a result of it is a pressured departure; I felt like I ran away,” he mentioned. “I used to be pressured to go away my nation.”

Correspondent Yubelka Mendoza from Managua. Maria Abi-Habib reviews from Mexico Metropolis.

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/14/world/americas/nicaragua-universities-ortega-dictatorship.html Nicaragua Seizes Universities, Inching Towards Dictatorship

Fry Electronics Team

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