26 September 2023
On 26 September, the University of Deusto held a ceremony-prayer to express its solidarity and support for the Central American Province of the Society of Jesus, as well as for the university community of the Central American University (UCA) based in Managua, in view of the serious events that took place in August.
The Central American Province of the Society of Jesus argues that the de facto confiscation of the UCA's assets is a reprisal for the work this institution has carried out in pursuit of a fairer society, as well as for its commitment to protect the life, truth and freedom of the Nicaraguan people, in line with its motto: "The truth will set you free" (John 8:32).
Hence, a two-part event was held for the entire University community. In the first part, the Jesuit José María Tojeira, spokesperson for the Central American Province, participated virtually, giving a first-hand account of the situation of "fear and tremendous concern" that is being experienced in a country where "it is not possible to be a university student". He was introduced by Gerardo Aguilar, a Jesuit from El Salvador who is currently doing his doctorate at Deusto.
In his account, he spoke of the persecution that the UCA has been suffering since 2018, when it hosted participants in a peaceful demonstration. "Then the harassment started. Since then, the threat has been constant until now”. The UCA now called the University of Casimiro Sotelo has not yet opened and, at present, there are more than 4,000 students who have asked to continue or complete their studies virtually at another Jesuit university.
Then, Rector Juan José Etxeberria read a manifesto of the University of Deusto in favour of the Central American Province of the Society of Jesus and in favour of the UCA, which read as follows:
We at Deusto, in the framework of UNIJES and IAJU, reiterate our solidarity and support to the Central American Province of the Society of Jesus, as well as to the university community of the Central American University (UCA) based in Managua, in view of the despicable actions of the Nicaraguan dictatorship.
We can attest to the high quality academic educational service and social commitment that the UCA has offered to the Nicaraguan people from 1960 to date, which has been widely recognised in that country and beyond. With the UCA in Nicaragua, we have maintained various collaborative projects, both as centres in particular and as a network, always resulting in a very valuable cooperation, which we now see cut short in such an ominous way.
At Deusto we demand that:
1° The drastic, unexpected and unjust measures taken by the Nicaraguan authorities should be immediately reversed and corrected.
2° An end should be put to the unjustifiable attitude of increasing government aggression against the UCA and the Society of Jesus.
3° A rational solution should be sought in which truth, justice and dialogue prevail.
We are grateful for the courage, commitment and testimony of the UCA university community. We reiterate the solidarity of UNIJES with our sister university and with the Central American Province of the Society of Jesus.
Although the UCA has been closed, the Society has other works that continue to operate in Nicaragua. The Jesuits in the province want first and foremost to support the students and lecturers who have suffered from the closure of the university.
Many Jesuit universities in the IAJU are working to take in students from the UCA. A solidarity campaign has been launched to raise funds to pay benefits to lecturers and staff who have been placed on forced leave. The Central American Province also seeks to help students to validate their studies in other institutions.
The Society of Jesus' fidelity to human rights has led today, once again, to give an evangelical testimony in a context of persecution. Let us pray that our brothers and sisters will live it with faith and hope.
Finally, we join the Society of Jesus in its commitment to the Nicaraguan people to provide quality education for all, inspired by the Gospel of Jesus Christ, an inspiration that sustains our hope that national and international solidarity will engender a renewed Nicaragua and a renewed UCA.
"God has the last word on history and he will also have the last word on Nicaragua".
The event was rounded off with a second part of prayer. A space for prayer to ask for the strengthening of the Society of Jesus' commitment to the Nicaraguan people to promote quality education for all people, inspired by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Participants declared that this inspiration sustains "our hope that national and international solidarity will engender a renewed Nicaragua and UCA".