The government of Nicaragua under President Daniel Ortega has continued a campaign since 2018 targeting religious institutions, most notably the Roman Catholic Church. Government forces and citizens sympathetic to the government have routinely harassed Catholic clergy and worshippers. In August 2023, the government canceled the legal status of the Society of Jesus of Nicaragua and ordered the confiscation of its real estate. Additionally, the government has taken harsher measures against Catholic-affiliated organizations such as shutting down charities and expelling their workers, stripping universities of funding and legal status, shutting down news media, and eliminating non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
As a complement to the International Religious Freedom (IRF) 2024 Summit on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Georgetown University's Center for Latin American Studies (CLAS) and Georgetown Americas Institute (GAI), and the International Republican Institute (IRI) hosted a side event on religious and academic freedom in Nicaragua under the current government.
This event was held in Spanish with simultaneous English translation headsets available. A video livestream was also available on GAI's Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/@georgetownamericasinstitute
This event was co-sponsored by the Center for Latin American Studies (CLAS), the Georgetown Americas Institute (GAI), and the International Republican Institute (IRI).
Martha Patricia Molina, Lawyer and Religious Freedom Expert
Marco Morales, Academic Freedom Activist, Iniciativa Puentes por los Estudiantes de Nicaragua (IPEN)
Dr. Francisco Urrutia de la Torre, Association of Jesuit Universities in Latin America (AUSJAL), Executive Secretary
Professor Diana Kapiszewski (moderator), Provost's Distinguished Associate Professor, Department of Government, Director, Center for Latin American Studies
Rev. Matthew Carnes, S.J. (opening remarks), Associate Professor of Government, Vice Dean for Faculty and Graduate Affairs, School of Foreign Service