A student was shot dead by state forces at the Industrial University of Santander (UIS) in Bucaramanga. The notorious anti-mutiny police refused to allow access for an emergency medical team, and they stopped wounded students from being attended to at the emergency section of the University Hospital.
We Protest To be Heard, But They Kill Us
We the university students are called to protest against neoliberal policies which every day tend to make the rich richer and the poor yet poorer, and for that reason there is amoral imperative to go out and protest and to propose a more equal society.
We are up against it, now that the economic system that dominates the political system has taken the decision to unilaterally implement its plan. The plan is to destroy all possible opposition and resistance that might come from the exploited and subjected sectors – the peasants, the indigenous people, workers, rights defenders and students.
In this context, to protect the lives of the workers, teachers and students at the Industrial University of Santander, an urgent action was raised with the Inter-American Human Rights Court (CIDH), due to threats from paramilitary groups. Perhaps these threats were in retaliation for protests that we made during the first six months of 2001.
The government arranged for various measures to be taken, amongst them the establishment of a commission composed of the Vice-president, officials from the Interior Ministry, two NGOs, university leaders, workers, students and teachers whose mission was to establish a security scheme for our alma mater. But the university rector then unilaterally appointed a private guard company, in clear violation of international agreements. This generated protests, first from the workers and then from the students.
When the students went out to protest on 20 November JAIME ALFONSO ACOSTA CAMPO, who was an 18 years old from Valledupar studying Mechanical Engineering, fell assassinated by the National Police. Besides that 20 other students were wounded.
Right now we, the students of UIS, have decided not to attend classes until:
– the private guards are removed from the campus
– contracted security chief Luis Prada is dismissed
– university rector Miguel Jose Pinilla (who authorised the police to repress the protest) is dismissed
– the democratic election of a new rector
– we know the state of the investigation into the assassination of our comrade.
P.S. This struggle will last some time. We require resources to provide food for more than three thousand students. Term is due to start again on 16 January, but the students want to fight on. If we resolve this impasse we will emerge victorious. Please send any aid that you can.
On 3 December protesting worker-students were violently attacked by the police in Bogotá. Twelve had serious injuries or 2nd and 3rd degree burns.
On 10 December 250 worker-students made a number of "Permanent Visits" to SENA headquarters in Bogotá and other major cities to protest against government proposals to change their apprenticeship contracts (SENA is the national apprentice training scheme – see page 16). They also drew attention to serious private sector corruption, and so the next day SENA’s director general ordered the worker-students’ eviction.
NATIONAL UNIVERSITY CLOSED
The main Bogotá site of Colombia’s biggest state university, Universidad National (UN) was closed for two weeks on 28 November. UN is near to the US embassy on the road to the international airport. And when explosions went off around the US embassy, the authorities claimed that these had been launched from mortars in UN grounds. Security police entered in force, three students were wounded. Security raids against students took place early on 29 November.
UN’s closure was extended until after the visit of US Secretary of State Colin Powell, to minimise protests.