Friday, August 18, 2023
Dear Seattle University Community,
At Seattle University we denounce the Nicaraguan government’s seizure this week of our sister Jesuit university, the Universidad Centroamericana (UCA) in Managua, Nicaragua and add our voices to the international condemnation of this unjust act that violates fundamental human rights in the country. SU and the UCA have been partners in Jesuit higher education for nearly 25 years, a relationship that was formalized in 2014 and that has generated a broad range of meaningful and mutually enriching educational and scholarly collaborations through SU’s Central American Initiative.
Over the past five years, the UCA has been under threat by the Nicaraguan government, given its criticism of the government’s human rights record. Since 2018, the Nicaraguan government, including political leaders, the legislature, the judicial system and other state offices, have conspired to cut state funds to the UCA as well as use legal frameworks and police cordons to intimidate and threaten the university.
This week, the government took the extraordinary step of seizing all of the UCA financial accounts and announcing that all infrastructure, real estate and financial resources were to pass over to the government. The government also formally occupied the university, and the pro-government Council of National Universities (CNU) announced a new name for the university and a new leadership team. These actions by the Nicaraguan government have been condemned by the Central American Province of the Society of Jesus, the Association of Jesuit Universities in Latin America, the Superior General of the Society of Jesus, Fr. Arturo Sosa, S.J., and a widening circle of leaders and institutions around the world. We join with these voices to strongly condemn this action and call on the Nicaraguan government to do the following:
(Among others, statements have been issued by the Central American Province of the Society of Jesus, the Jesuits of Canada and the United States and the Association of Jesuit Universities in Latin America.)
We stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters at the Universidad Centroamericana in Managua, Nicaragua, and call on the international community to join us.
Eduardo M. Peñalver
Love and Serve in All Things
the Universidad Centroamericana (UCA) in Managua, Nicaragua
Fr General Expressed Solidarity with the Jesuits and their Mission Partners at UCA Nicaragua
Download Father General's message [original in Spanish and translated version in English].
Secretary for Higher Education Expressed Support and Solidarity with the UCA Nicaragua
Download the letter addressed to the Rector of UCA [original in English and translated version in Spanish].
Nicaragua Judge Orders Seizure of Jesuit University in Nicaragua
Download the statement of the Central American Province of the Society of Jesus [original in Spanish, translated English version].
Expulsion of Jesuits from their Residence
“Continuing with its arbitrary measures against the Central American University (UCA), the Nicaraguan government has also decided to confiscate the Villa del Carmen residence, the community where the Jesuits working at the UCA live…” Read full statement
Jesuits of Canada and the United States Issue Statement on the Nicaraguan Government’s Seizure of the University of Central America
Statement from Canada and US. Read full statement
The Central America Initiative—a vibrant set of partnerships between Seattle University and the Jesuit universities in Central America, and other partners in the region—got its start as part of shared activities between Seattle University and the Universidad Centroamericana in Managua, Nicaragua. Today, SU professors, students, and staff join Central American counterparts across the region as they participate in joint research and scholarship, exchanges, immersion experiences, and collaborative teaching. Attentive to our partners’ needs, Seattle University’s Central America Initiative is steered by the Central America Advisory Team comprised of SU staff and faculty with deep ties to the region.
In 2019, five UCA-Managua students studied at Seattle University for two quarters, taking classes in the colleges of Arts & Sciences, Albers, and Science and Engineering. Photo credit: Anne Moran.
In 2017, given the regional challenges faced by the three Jesuit universities of Central America—the Universidad Centroamericana in Nicaragua; the Universidad Centroamericana “José Simeon Cañas” in El Salvador; and the Universidad Rafael Landívar in Guatemala—Seattle University began to seek opportunities to participate in the priorities identified by the three universities as well as partner with each one on strategic projects. Memoranda of understanding were signed with the UCA-El Salvador and the URL-Guatemala in 2019. Currently, Seattle University is exploring possible shared actions with One Equal Heart and Jesuit partner organizations active in Chiapas given shared commitments and cultural similarities with Guatemala and our partners there.
SU delegation to UCA in Managua, Nicaragua, 2014. Photo by Joe Orlando.
The three Jesuit universities of Central America have identified regional priorities such as migration, youth employment, ending gender violence, promoting Indigenous rights, and environmental sustainability. Led by these themes, Seattle University faculty, staff, and students join our Central American partners in shared activities. In El Salvador, we’re participating in a sustainable livelihoods project for rural youth. In Guatemala, Seattle University is collaborating on research, services, and community engagement around women’s leadership and efforts to end gender violence. And in Nicaragua, issues of good governance and the inclusion of Indigenous and Afro-descendant communities are the focus areas of our collaboration.
SU students, faculty, and staff join UCA-Managua students and local youth to finish a re-forestry project in southern Nicaragua (2015). Photo by Claire Garoutte.
The Central America Initiative is about connecting with partners in a manner that facilitates mutual learning and solidarity. My involvement led me to work in Nicaragua after graduation.Andrew Gorvetzian SU grad 2015
Serena Cosgrove, PhD
Formally begun in 2014 with a signed memorandum of understanding, this initiative is built upon many years of collaborative activities in Nicaragua with the Universidad Centroamericana (UCA), including students, faculty, staff, and administrative leaders. An initial series of student service experiences in the late 1990’s developed into annual SU faculty/staff immersions starting in 2001. These engagements between SU and the UCA led to multiple joint initiatives culminating with the hosting of an UCA delegation on the SU campus in 2013, which, in turn, allowed the SU and UCA presidents—Fr. Steve Sundborg and Fr. Chepe Idiáquez—to sign a memorandum of understanding in 2014 and then its renewal in 2019.