Nicaragua Immersion cancelled due to violent political unrest

By Hannah Sievert | April 24, 2018 9:30pm

University of Portland students traveling during a previous Nicaragua immersion. Photo taken from Nicaragua Immersion blog.

The Moreau Center has cancelled this year’s Nicaragua Immersion because of major political unrest in the country. Laurie Laird, director of the Moreau Center, said immersion leaders made the decision after over two dozen people died in anti-government protests over pension reform in Nicaragua over the past few days. In response, the U.S. embassy in Nicaragua evacuated nonessential staff on Monday, and the U.S. State Department elevated the travel warning to Nicaragua to Level 3: “Reconsider Travel.”

The immersion group — consisting of 14 UP students and two adult leaders, economics professor Todd Easton and Moreau Center Program Manager Irene Routte — was set to leave on May 8 for the three-week immersion. They have been preparing for the immersion since October of last year.

This is the first time the Moreau Center has cancelled the Nicaragua Immersion in recent memory, according to Laird.

“With our departure in two weeks and the situation still very volatile, we don’t believe things can change enough in that short time for us to feel confident about our students’ and partners’ safety,” Laird said in an email to UP department directors. 

Laird said the Moreau Center is now looking into refunding travel expenses and asking for support for students and the people of Nicaragua.

“We have a great sense of appreciation for the UP community, who always supports our Immersions, our Nicaragua Immersion in particular,” Laird said. “While we’re disappointed, we’re particularly concerned for the people of Nicaragua.”