Colombia: University of Antioquia Closed After Clash Between Students And Police

The University of Antioquia, located in Medellín, Colombia, is known as one of the most prestigious public institutions of higher education in Colombia. However for the people there, it’s also known to have various individuals that disturb the peace and disrupt the normal academic environment; they have gone so far as to say some of these individuals are armed, and in the riots in which students have confronted police, this has been said to mean Molotov cocktails.

The comments coming from media outlets say that the university has a serious problem with rebelliousness. And once again those who study at the university are being stigmatized. A tweet from Journalists UdeA (@periodistasudea) says:

Están criminalizando la #udea. (?) Vienen para acá, a laUdea, buscando espacio. Profesora en la asamblea

They are making us into criminals at the #udea. (?) They come here, to the Udea, looking for news. Professor at the student gathering.

The most recent disturbance caused the closing of the university on Wednesday, September 15. Meanwhile, the administration and faculty have had various meetings to decide the conditions under which the university will reopen. The student and blogger, Blueandtanit writes about these riots [es]:

El miércoles se llega el definitivo motivo de este post, primero, un grupo de alrededor de 200 estudiantes se dirige e forma pacífica al bloque administrativo (16), luego los administrativos se encierran con el argumento ridículo de temer por sus vidas -como ya mencioné en párrafos y en posts anteriores, si bien no comparto los viejos, parcializados y desgastados mecanismos y motivos de protesta de la UdeA, esta claro que no se trata de un grupo de ASESINOS- (…)

Luego de encerrarse, al parecer por autorización del gobernador, es permitido el ingreso del [Escuadrón Móvil Antidisturbios] ESMAD (que, como ya mencioné, se encontraba a poca distancia, en la portería), y se libra una batalla campal que los noticieros y otros medios llamaron “intento de amotinamiento” “protesta violenta de los estudiantes”… Pero que en realidad, como denunció la Personería de Medellín, fueron medidas de choque injustificadas.

I definitely have reason to post about Wednesday. First, a group of around 200 students gathered peacefully at administration block 16. Then the administration locked themselves in the building with the ridiculous argument that they were fearing for their lives – as mentioned in paragraphs before and other posts, although I don’t share the old, marginalized and worn down methods and reasons for protesting the UdeA, it’s clear that this wasn’t an attempt by a group of ASSASINS-(…)

After the lock-in, apparently by the authorization of the governor of Antioquia, ESMAD [Anti-Riot Mobile Unit] was deployed (which, as mentioned, they were found some distance away at the University entrance) and unleashed a pitched battle that the news programs and other media labeled “a revolt attempt“ “a violent student protest” … But in reality, as reported by the Personería [Civil Rights Group within the Attorney General’s Office] of Medellín, the measures used by the government were unwarranted.

Image from del blog Estudiantes U. de A. Used with permission.

In the blog Estudiantes U. de A. the events of the confrontation have been documented, such as the arrival of the police with photos and videos, plus the publishing of the minutes and communications of the student gathering. One of the posts titled “The university is in a state of shock and sadness…it was assaulted by the police [es],” has generated, at this moment, more than 90 comments, mainly from the students. Meanwhile on Twitter, the most recent thoughts under the hashtag #UdeA express student concern over the closing of the University:

Deisy Rivera (@deisyra14):

Ya quiero ver la U abierta #udea

I want to see the U open again #udea

Todo lo que hay (@todoloquehay):

Decimos que en la #UdeA el problema es de todo, Estudiantes, Egresados, Profesores y gente que les duele la U en

We say the problem at the#UdeA is everyone’s: Students, Graduates, Faculty and all the other people that get hurt by what happens to the U … at

Alejandro Rua (@JandroRua):

Esperemos que en la reunion del martes el consejo academico, dé el aval para la reapertura del Alma Mater lo mas pronto posible #UdeA

At the meeting Tuesday of the university council, we hope they will give the OK to reopen our Alma Mater as soon as possible #UdeA

Richard Ortega (@Richardarzt):

Y acá seguimos esperando que dice el CS de la Udea esperemos que no cancelen semestre… al paso que voy me graduaré para cuando cumpla 75!

And here we continue waiting for what the CS [university council] of Udea will say. Let’s hope they don’t cancel the semester… at this rate I am going to graduate when I’m 75!

Ma. Angelica Cruz (maangelicacruz):

#UdeA te extrañooo!!! :( .. Ya quiero volver a mi universidad!!!!

#UdeA, I miss yooooou! :( .. I want to go back to my university now!!!!

After the closing of the university on September 15, an event was created via Facebook called “Hora cero para volver a estudiar [es][“Countdown to Studying Again”] in which the students proposed holding classes outside the University. The event came to an end on September 24 and some tweets were published about this:

De la Urbe (@Delaurbe):

Los estudiantes reciben clases simbólicas en la calle para reclamar la apertura de la UdeA… vía @AddThis

The students are receiving symbolic classes in the streets as they call for the re-opening of the UdeA… vía @AddThis

Periodistas UdeA (@periodistasudea):

Así se ve la Avenida del Ferrocarril junto a la entrada a la #udea

This is how the #udea entrance on Avenida del Ferrocarril looks

Blueandtanit (@blueandtanit)

@Plano_Online vea pues, ahora, según el consejo académico, uds y todos los que fuimos a #horacero #udea somos de la asamblea #chismosos!

@Plano_Online @Plano_Online well look at this now, per the university council, you and the rest of us that went to #horacero [countdown] #udea, we’re part of the student gathering! #chismosos [gossip]

As of now, the problems at the University have not been resolved. Owing to the University's closing, there will be an inevitable extension of the academic calendar and the main ones harmed by this extension will be the students. The current situation doesn’t allow an accurate reading of the facts much more than there will be some economic losses caused by the closing, especially as the University has a financial responsibility toward the students, according to the majority of media coverage. In addition, the photos and videos (as seen in this post) made the day of the confrontation were mainly published to the internet by student blogger/twitter users found in University buildings. This real-time version of the events has differed slightly from the graphic coverage in the media.

Related Links:

- Website of the University of Antioquia [es]
Communications from the University Council of UdeA after the September riot [es]
Announcement from University Council of UdeA – Countdown to Studying Again [es]

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