In Colombia, the ideal and the reality of an independent Academy is being attacked. Universities are facing the military and paramilitary intervention; both academics and students have been killed and threatened.
In this context, Professor Renan Vega, devoted to teaching and academic work within the National Pedagogic University, has been targeted in recent months by a defamation campaign promoted from the University with the complicit silence of the academic authorities.
Besides, it happens that such accusations and attacks took place after an important cycle of struggles and mobilizations of teachers and students against the privatization of the public University, and the constitution of the Association of University Professors (ASPU) at the National Pedagogic University.
In response to these pressures, Colombian academics, backed by academics abroad, held a series of events between last 9th and 10th May across the main Colombian universities to defend critical thinking and pay tribute to the contribution of Renan Vega to Social History and the Colombian Academy. At that time, many voices raised to recognize the valuable contribution of Professor Renan Vega Cantor to the social and historical sciences, supporting his academic excellence that made him worthy of the prestigious “Libertador” award, but also his commitment to put that knowledge to the service of the oppressed, taking it to the classrooms and popular neighbourhoods.
Today, we raise our voices to denounce that Professor Renan Vega had to abandon his space at Pedagogical University space due to the situation’s worsening and the escalation of the campaign against him, which already includes direct threats against his life.
His forced exile is an ignominious attack against the freedom of expression and the possibility of critical thinking, in addition to continuing an ominous tradition of antiunion dirty war, which has resulted in thousands of murdered Colombian teachers.
In Colombia the attack against the life of a teacher or a student by “dark forces” that rarely end up being identified and tried, almost always starts with an accusation launched by “respectable” entities.
We express our solidarity with Professor Renan Vega and demand decisive action of the authorities to ensure that the Colombian universities are centres of study and free exchange of ideas, and no longer stages of prosecution, stigmatization and extermination of critical thinking.
We call for the immediate restoration of conditions allowing the return with guarantees of Professor Renan Vega to his position as Professor at the National Pedagogic University. Guarantees for his integrity and for his full exercise of academic freedom.
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