UCU backs trade union campaign to respect democratic vote at Bogota’s National University

The University and College Union (UCU) has given backing to higher education unions in Colombia over their campaign around the recent election of a new rector at Bogota’s National University, the largest public university in the country. It follows the decision in March by the university’s unelected Superior University Council to disregard the results of a poll topped by Leopoldo Múnera with 34 per cent of votes and name instead José Peña as rector, who with eight per cent finished far lower in the ballot.

The Council’s decision sparked weeks of protests at the university and a strike by university workers in the SINTRAUNAL trade union and acadamics in the ASPU union, both of which have met on multiple times with JFC delegates in Colombia. They have alleged that Peña reflected the preferred choice of conservative sectors and for that reason had been appointed ahead of the clear choice of university students, workers and graduates.

In a letter to Colombia’s Cultural Minister Juan David Correa – acting as ad-hoc Education Minister due to specific involvement of the education ministry in the election – UCU general secretary Jo Grady expressed support for trade unions campaigning for demcoracy at the National University and urged authorities to ensure that freedom of association was respected on university campuses. Police have previousy used force to try to eject the protests.

You can read the full letter below.