Caracas, November 2015
Crisis in Venezuela is an everyday topic, but this time, it’s not only a critical situation, but one that has the futures of many young scholars in its hands. Autonomous universities all over the country have been on strike since September, and now the National Assembly of Venezuela has approved a series of audits to the universities, threatening a possible trial in the Supreme Court.
In September of this year, while most universities were typically just beginning their classes, the autonomous universities of Venezuela started a strike and stopped all academics as well as most of the administrative activities. This sudden cancellation of classes all over Venezuela was done in order to pressure the government to increase the funding put towards these universities.
This is not the first time that the universities have used this process to raise the budget or protest measures taken by the government, but it is the first time that the National Assembly has retaliated against the universities with a series of audits.
The official statement of the National Assembly claims that the universities are going against the will of the government, forcing parents to send their children out of the country and using budgeted money given to the universities for unregulated activities.
While the National Assembly is claiming perjury and performing audits, teachers and administrative workers are accusing the Venezuelan government of neglecting the budget, saying that it has been years since there was a stable budget adjusted to the needs of the universities. The reality is observed in the schools where hallways are destroyed for lack of funds to fix them, teachers leave their positions because their salaries are not high enough to live on, and classrooms do not have any resources.
The statement of the National Assembly contemplates the possibility of a trial in the Supreme Court, in case the audits reveal that the budget is being used in an inaccurate way. Some students of the universities accuse the National Assembly of using this declaration as a distraction to gloss over the fact that the government is stealing the national budget.
In any case, the measures taken by the National Assembly can be considered improper and authoritarian, being just one of many government plans to control freedom of education in Venezuela.