Higher education students in Colombia have been protesting against the low budgets for public universities these days. Their way of protesting has been quite violent sometimes. In Bogotá Moises Wasserman, rector of the Universidad Nacional, was trapped like 5 hours in his car on the university campus. Media say there were about 300 students surrounding his car. Must have been quite a scary experience for the rector.
Colombia’s president Uribe was quick to qualify this as kidnapping. He ordered the police to enter the university campus. The president also expressed the possibility that members of the FARC were among the students who held the poor rector.
That is always dangerous. Although it cannot be denied that the guerrilla is trying to recruit university students, it is tricky to identify the students’ action with a FARC mission. Unfortunately it is not the first time the president does this. When the indians start marching against the government, immediately it is suggested that the FARC are behind it. Even if there are FARC members present, it is unjust to disqualify the whole march. For example because you don’t know if they were invited. The same applies for the students’ protest. How many meetings have been held with the president or his supporters, where paramilitaries were present? That neither proofs that mr. Uribe is a paramilitary.
The students made a big mistake maintaing their rector in a very uncomfortable position for such a long time. But their point is not questioned by the rector. He even agrees and has criticized the government about it: the budget for public universities is too low and a socalled increase announced by the government is a ‘sophism of a cynical distraction’, he said to newspaper El Espectador. Don’t know what he really means with that, but that he disagrees, is for sure.
El Espectador also published an article in which it revealed that the budget for national security is higher that the education budget.
So the students are right in their protest. Only one advice: don’t give the president tools for serious accusations when you know he is eager to do it. Less – and better no – violence and a better treatment of Moisés Wasserman.