Teachers denounce arbitrary dismissals in Nicaragua

Unidad Sindical Magistral [“United Association of Teachers”] denounces the arbitrary dismissal of seven teachers in the last weeks of May. Photo: Ministry of Education.

A member of the independent teachers group warns they expect to see more selective layoffs of teachers. In general, said the representative, teachers work in a hostile environment.

By confidential

HAVANA TIME – The Unidad Sindical Magistral denounced the unjustified dismissal of at least seven educators from different areas of Nicaragua during the last two weeks of May. A teacher, who belongs to the independent association, said he could not rule out the possibility of more teachers losing their jobs, due to the pressures the sector faces in a system dominated by authorities who march to the rhythm of the ruling Sandinista party. to party. The teacher asked to be identified only with the pseudonym “Karla”, to avoid reprisals.

In past cases where teachers have been fired, they have received notification letters that their contracts were suspended, but there was no mention of statutes or laws being broken. This group, however, received letters in their respective offices of the Ministry of Education indicating that they were dismissed on the basis of the application of Article 32, paragraph 4 of Law No. 114, the Law on educational careers, which stipulates that the services of educators must be terminated: “in the event of behavior seriously contrary to professional ethics as defined in this law”.

The recent letters also accused the teachers of breaching the Code of Ethics for Public Servants. In article 13, part B, this document stipulates: “Officials must totally abstain from exercising their functions or their authority for purposes which deviate from the public interest. To this end, they must in no case interfere with their private life in the fulfillment of their responsibilities, nor use them to harass, stalk or seduce in any way whatsoever.

“Karla” explained that one of the intimidation tactics the Ministry of Education (Mined) uses to pressure teachers, especially male teachers, is to threaten them with sexual harassment lawsuits. For this reason, the teachers affected by the current layoffs – two from the Northern Caribbean region, three from Managua and two from Tipitapa – prefer to channel complaints about their cases through USM and avoid making their names public.

One of the teachers agreed to speak anonymously with Confidential. He says he received a phone call from the Municipal Mines Office asking him to come in. When he entered, he was surprised to see the police surrounding the offices. He walked in and the HR representative handed him his pink slip without offering any explanation.

This teacher had 35 years of experience behind him. He thinks the authorities expected a different kind of reaction from him, and that’s why the police were outside. However, he simply thanked them and left.

The teacher claimed that his dismissal was a “political reprisal”, because the educational authorities know very well “that I am not [political] before giving him his dismissal notice, the teacher had faced several pressures aimed at pushing him to leave his job. At the same time, he clarified that he does not understand the application of the articles of law against him, since he has never had any problems in schools or received verbal warnings. Given this, he thinks it’s “not fair what they did”.

End of employment letter given to a teacher from a Mined delegation. The recipient called the action “unfair”. Courtesy picture

Completely vulnerable teachers

“Karla” explained that teachers are completely vulnerable, because there is nowhere they can go to defend their rights. Added to this is the fear that threats of imprisonment will come true.

“They are going to fire them, one by one. Because it doesn’t suit them [the educational authorities] to create a big stir like in 2018. They have already identified all the teachers who are not with them [the Ortega forces]“, denounces the professor.

Another teacher from Tipitapa said authorities took advantage of a particular discipline problem he had with a student to force him to hand in his resignation letter, under the threat that if he did not, they would open a case against him.

USM has warned that more teachers may have been fired recently, but there is much fear of reporting such cases among professionals.

They advise all teachers to meet the requirements of the Ministry of Education, even if this means linking educational activities to those of Ortega’s party. This compliance is necessary to avoid difficult situations that could be used to terminate their contracts.

According to USM, from April 2018 to May 2021, 139 teachers were fired. Many of them have been branded “traitors, terrorists and criminals” for supporting students in protests; some had to go into exile because of the threats they were subjected to, indicates the association, which is currently working to systematize data on dismissed teachers.

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