Nicaragua seizes universities and is moving closer toward dictatorship

Many see the move as President Daniel Ortega’s latest effort to clamp down on dissent, after persecuting political opponents and extending his time in office.

Nicaragua’s politically active student population, one of the last pockets of opposition to President Daniel Ortega’s authoritarian government, is also the latest target of his wide-ranging crackdown on dissent, with five private universities brought under state control.

The government said the colleges were stripped of their ability to operate independently this month because they had not complied with financial regulations. Critics, however, saw the move as Mr. Ortega’s latest effort to clamp down on challenges to his tightening grip on power.

Since last year, his administration has jailed or put under house arrest political activists and civil society leaders, raided media offices, outlawed street protests and shuttered dozens of nongovernmental organizations. In November, Mr. Ortega ran for a fourth consecutive term in office on a ballot devoid of any credible challenger, and won.

Universities had been among the last remaining centers of resistance.

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