November 15, 2011
Colombian Minister of Education María Fernanda Campo announced today that the ministry will scrap the controversial higher education reform, Ley 30, which is currently in the hands of Congress. The government’s concession on the issue marks a major victory for public university and high school students and labor unions that have banded together to stage nationwide protests. Their actions have paralyzed major streets in the nation’s capital; activists have also occupied several public universities in opposition to the law.
During a press conference last month, Minister Campo maintained that the government “will not revoke the reform because it will only bring benefits.” But responding to sustained pressure from students, the minister said on Tuesday that the government would officially kill the bill in Congress within the next 24 hours and called for a meeting as soon as this week between the government, students, professors, and school directors to discuss new higher education reforms.
President Juan Manuel Santos and Minister Campo have vigorously defended Ley 30 over the past several weeks, saying that the reforms will strengthen the university system by investing $3.5 billion into higher education over the next decade, boosting enrolment by 600,000 and offering scholarships to top students. But students fear that the reforms will undermine the autonomy of universities and raise the cost of education; another concern is that an influx of students will overwhelm already cash-strapped universities. The student opposition to Ley 30, led by Colombia's National Student Round Table (MANE), responded to Tuesday’s announcement saying they will only return to the negotiating table once the bill is officially withdrawn.
May 18, 2011
From Americas Society/Council of the Americas. AS/COA Online's news brief examines the major—as well as some of the overlooked—events and stories occurring across the Americas. Check back every Wednesday for the weekly roundup.
Giuliani Advises Peru’s Fujimori as She Pulls ahead
Conservative Peruvian presidential candidate Keiko Fujimori contracted former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani this week as an adviser to help design public security programs. The news came as polls indicated that Fujimori has begun to pull ahead of leftwing nationalist Ollanta Humala for the June 5 runoff election. A Datum released Sunday night found Fujimori leading over nationalist Humala by nearly six percentage points, with 46 percent against Humala’s 40.2. Another pollster, Ipsos Apoyo, released a figure the same day that found Fujimori winning by a smaller margin, with 51.1 percent compared to Humala’s 48.9 percent.
Victims Law Reaches Final Debate in Colombian Congress
A law that would provide state compensation to victims of violence in Colombia’s civil conflict reaches its final debate in Congress today. Before passing the law, legislators will debate whether to legally recognize that Colombia faces an internal conflict with enemy combatants or to classify the FARC guerrilla army as a terrorist group for the purposes of the law. Colombian ex-President and FARC nemesis Álvaro Uribe explains to Foreign Policy why he supports categorizing the guerrillas as terrorists rather than combatants. Investigative website La Silla Vacía charts the positions of key Colombian politicians on the issue.
Scandal-tainted Colombian Envoy to Venezuela Resigns
Eight months into his job, Colombia’s Ambassador to Venezuela José Fernando Bautista stepped down Monday after admitting he had ties to a Colombian construction conglomerate involved in bribing politicians for work contracts. He will be replaced by Ricardo Montanegro, who served as the Colombian business attaché in Caracas.