Maduro threatens universities’ independence

Person walking toward large building (© Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP/Getty)
The Central University of Venezuela in Caracas on March 12, 2019. (© Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP/Getty)

The former Maduro regime is attempting to undermine Venezuela’s education system by dictating who runs universities and how they operate.

Autonomous Venezuelan universities, important centers for free thought and learning, are independent of the state, according to the Venezuelan Constitution. But a ruling by the regime-aligned Supreme Court that went into effect February 27 will change how elections at autonomous universities are run.

If the universities comply with the ruling of the illegitimately run court, Maduro would control the academic institutions by controlling who runs each university, a blatant violation of the nation’s constitution. According to Article 109 of the constitution, “The State shall recognize the autonomy of universities as a principle and status. … Autonomous universities shall adopt their own rules for their governance and operation.”

This means that Maduro will be able to hand-pick all university leadership at Venezuela’s five autonomous universities and control how both autonomous and private universities operate, including who is admitted and what is taught.

Numerous National Assembly deputies and other democratic leaders have graduated from these universities. Just as previous generations of student leaders spoke out against corruption and for freedom of speech, students at Venezuela’s autonomous universities are now speaking out against Maduro’s attempted takeover of their schools.

Student leaders from Central University of Venezuela in Caracas protested the ruling on February 27, according to media reports. Other universities held similar demonstrations, declaring that the regime lacks authority to interfere in the university system. Secretary of the Organization of American States Luis Almagro added his support for autonomous universities as well.


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