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President Daniel Ortega has issued a threat against the Academia de la Lengua de Nicaragua and 83 other NGOs. Photo: Getty Images.
President Daniel Ortega has issued a threat against the Academia de la Lengua de Nicaragua and 83 other NGOs. Photo: Getty Images.

A dictatorial blow to the Spanish language in Nicaragua

Daniel Ortega's government requested the closure of the Academia de la Lengua de Nicaragua, the oldest civil institution in the country, and 82 other local NGOs

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On Monday, May 30, the Nicaraguan government requested the parliament to close the Nicaraguan Academy of Language (Academia de la Lengua de Nicaragua), an entity with 94 years of history, and also pointed to 82 other nonprofit organizations of breaking the law for not declaring themselves "foreign agents," according to official announcements from the iron-fisted government led by dictator Daniel Ortega.

The Nicaraguan Academy of the Language, based in Managua, was created in August 1928 by a group of seven intellectuals with the intention of protecting and promoting the Spanish language. Its founding motto is a verse by Nicaraguan poet Rubén Darío: "In spirit united, in spirit and yearning and language."

"It is unheard of. It is an institution that enjoys the respect of the whole world. This can only be understood by the regime's policy of not leaving any space for any organization, be it cultural or for the promotion of human rights," novelist and Cervantes Prize winner Sergio Ramirez, a member of the Nicaraguan Academy of Language, told ABC newspaper.

"This is the only case in the world of a language academy that has been closed 'manu militari.' This has not even happened in Cuba," added the novelist, who has been living in exile in Spain since October last year, when Ortega issued a search and arrest warrant against him.

"The Nicaraguan Academy of the Language has had legal status since 1928!!!! And now they come out with that it has not fulfilled the requirements and that they will suspend the legal status of an academy that is apolitical by nature. Not even Somoza did it," exiled writer Gioconda Belli denounced on Twitter. She is also a member of the Nicaraguan Academy of Language.

On Monday, The Royal Spanish Academy (RAE) showed its "deep concern" about the possible closure of the Nicaraguan Academy of Language proposed to the National Assembly of Nicaragua. It's a proposal "that will deprive the Central American corporation of legal personality and cause its disappearance after 94 years of fruitful existence at the service of the greatest cultural value of the nation."

At the same time, it pointed out that the institution carries out "tireless work for the direct benefit of the people, who are the owners of the language, and fulfills an essential function in the international concert as part of the Association of Spanish Language Academies (Asale), to whose joint work it contributes in an exemplary manner."

According to El País, one of the reasons that led to the creation of the Nicaraguan Academy of the Language in 1928 was to promote dialogue between two cultures, which is why its coat of arms represents the encounter between the conqueror Gil González Dávila and a warrior chief from the New World, which may have taken place in 1523, when the Spaniards arrived in the lands. 

"The RAE, which defends the freedoms of thought, expression and association as the first values of any system of coexistence, strongly supports and vindicates the legitimate right of the Academia Nicaragüense de la Lengua to serve its fellow citizens," the RAE statement concludes.

Another of the 83 institutions affected by the Nicaraguan government's closure order is the Enrique Bolaños Foundation, known for having one of the most complete virtual libraries in the country.

"How can this be explained? It is a policy of not letting any civil society entity that is free and independent operate. And this will get worse, no doubt. They will continue closing organizations, they will continue imprisoning politicians, they will continue exercising the repressive control of the army, of the police... It is a complete authoritarian design," Ramirez told ABC.

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