On Tuesday, May 2, the National Assembly in Nicaragua voted to revoke the legal recognition of 25 nonprofit organizations based on the recommendation of the Ministerio de Gobernación (MiGob). The reasons given were failure to comply with financial reporting requirements under the law governing the operation of nonprofits.
Among the organizations who lost their incorporation on Tuesday was the Asociación Roncalli, formerly known as the Institute of John XXIII. We have worked with the staff of the Asociación Roncalli for 38 of the 60 years the organization has existed. The decision of the government to include them in this latest round of disqualifications is unwarranted, and thus, both baffling and angering.
Over the last two years, we have accompanied the Asociación in a long and tedious process of responding to every request put to them by MiGob for information about how the Asociación is funded. Every request for information from MiGob was met, and the response was always a request for more information, or presentation of some new regulations. Any claim that the Asociación Roncallí was not forthcoming in providing details about their finances is untrue. They, and we, have provided every document requested by the government.
This, of course, begs the question of why, then, was their non-profit status eliminated. The Asociación played no role in any of the protests, and took no organizational stance concerning the presidency of Daniel Ortega then or during recent elections, nor did the Asociación take a public position on actions by the government since 2018 - pro or con. The Asociación has worked very closely with mayoral offices throughout the country, the vast majority of whom are Sandinistas, on affordable housing projects, education programs and provision of community pharmacies. Those relationships have been cordial, and productive for many years.
The point is that there seems no reasonable grounds for the Asociación to have been disqualified for failure to report financial information, and there is also no basis for them being disqualified for political reasons. The Asociación's decertification seems to be collateral damage in the government's ongoing conflict with “civil society” organizations and universities [the Asociacion Roncalí is located on the campus of the Jesuit University of Central America in Managua (UCA)], but exactly how and why, we do not know.
Whatever the reason, what this means is that the Asociación Roncalli/Institute of John XXIII is being forced to close its doors by the Nicaraguan government. After 38 years of partnership this is a shock, to say the least.
The staff of the Asociación is engaged in their own discernment. As of now, they are not seeking any kind of public advocacy campaign. We will report more details as we find them out, and continue to accompany our long time friends as they navigate this difficult situation.