Riot at Colombia’s National University

Alternate Title: My 2nd Time Tear-Gassed in Colombia

Read my first time tear-gassed in Colombia (different school, different riot).

While Universidad de los Andes is the most prestigious in Colombia, the national university is actually ranked higher. One of the national university’s claims to fame comes from its former rector and recent presidential candidate, Antanas Mockus. He once mooned a disorderly crowd of students.

Universidad Nacional de Colombia is known for anti-American and socialist graffiti spray-painted on all the buildings. So I went to take pictures of the campus one day, but unfortunately several students were rioting. This was bigger than the UPN riots. There were more police and they used an unbelievable amount of tear gas. I breathed so much of it the skin of my face started to burn. The last two photos compare the sky to the west, above the university, with the clear sky to the east. The difference is in tear gas.

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Also, below the pics is an embedded video I made, hosted on Expat Chronicles’ YouTube channel.

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  1. The question is, why are they rioting?

    University students don’t tend to riot to the degree you need tear gas for no reason. In the 60s/70s, American students rioted against the Vietnam war, the draft and their own personal fears of being drafted. In spite of rumors about possibly bringing back the draft, I can’t think of a single riot about Iraq or Afghanistan. Between drinking, drugs, sex and occasionally studying, what is so horrific that it motivates students to riot?


  2. I believe that in Colombia, and probably most of Latin America, there’s more passion than reason. Make sense? They have the legacy of Che Guevara, who stormed through Bogota before invading Cuba, and they like the idea of revolution. And they’re mad about the American military presence or whatever, but they don’t really have a reason or cause. They only have the desire.


  3. Well, this is a list of the latest reasons:

    * US military bases in Colombia
    * TLC with the US
    * The constant negative of the government of rising the budget for public education. This happens every time the government announces the national development planning and the yearly spending of the country’s budget.
    * The latest education reform where the government is trying to make every public university a for profit university, while also authorizing every other higher education institution to become a for-profit organization.
    * The government of Alvaro Uriibe often gave declarations that were pointing to get police and/or military forces inside the national university
    * Professors salaries have decreased and their contracts have become dependent on research productivity indicators (number of journal publications, number of conference papers, number of government grants obtained)
    * The minimal funding from research while asking more productivity on research to professors to keep their jobs.
    * Raises in tuition (I’ve seen a similar protest, with tear gas an all, here in Montreal)


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