Thousands of books from the library of the Sucre Campus of the University of Oriente were reduced to ashes, as a result of a fire whose culprits have not been identified. Photo courtesy: Student Movement Onward UDO.

(Mérida 06/17/2020) – During the first three months of the national quarantine by COVID-19, of which more than 70 days implied almost absolute confinement, the Observatory of Human Rights of the University of Los Andes (ODH-ULA) recorded 95 robberies and thefts of goods belonging to at least 8 universities in the country. This amount exceeds one robbery or theft by day in the quarantine.

In addition to these crimes, ODH-ULA counted at least ten acts of vandalism that consisting of invasion, destruction and even the dismemberment of a mare, which is recorded in several university dependencies. This Observatory emphasizes that, in the middle of a quarantine period with time restrictions for circulating in the streets in most of the states of the country, the underworld has been able to act freely without the police and military agencies, which are responsible for enforcing the quarantine, and they have noticed it. ODH-ULA also denounces that the most of the acts of vandalism committed against universities remain unpunished and their executors have not been caught.

The University of Oriente, the most affected one

The University of Oriente (UDO, by its acronym n Spanish) has been the most attacked study house during this quarantine. According to the digital media Chronicle One, from March 16 to May 26, 28 robberies only were committed in the Anzoátegui Campus of this university. To this amount must be added 9 thefts and robberies registered by ODH-ULA in other UDO campuses, for a total of 37 in the quarantine.

In addition to the theft of goods, the most of which are unrecoverable for the costs involved in retrieved them, this Observatory condemns the fire vile that consumed thousands of books belonging to the library the Sucre Campus of UDO last June 1. This deplorable fact constitutes one of the most regrettable attacks on the essence of the knowledge and the teaching university.

In turn, from March 16 to June 16 of this year, the University of Los Andes (ULA) was the victim of 17 robberies and thefts in different dependencies located in its three campuses: Merida, Tachira and Trujillo, as well as in the Judibana Experimental Station (Merida) and Caparo (Barinas), which have been invaded by criminals for several years.

According to ODH-ULA, the other universities victims of vandalism are the Central University of Venezuela (UCV, by its acronym in Spanish), the University of Zulia (LUZ, by its acronym in Spanish), Libertador Experimental Pedagogical University (UPEL, by its acronym in Spanish), «Lisandro Alvarado» Central Western University (UCLA, by its acronym in Spanish) and «Antonio José de Sucre» National Experimental Polytechnic University (UNEXPO),by its acronym in Spanish).

Attacks that only get to destroy

In addition to the robberies and thefts, the burning of books at UDO Sucre was not the only act of vandalism committed against Venezuelan universities during the first 90 days of quarantine by COVID-19. Destruction, invasions, fires and the dismemberment of animals constitute other types of attacks against the academy whose purpose is incomprehensible from any rational analysis. «They only seek to crush the hope that students have of training and obtaining a degree despite the difficulties our country is going through,» Marcelo Lecumberre, a civil engineering student at UDO Anzoátegui, said on April 14.

The Venezuelan Association of University Rectors (Averu, by its acronym in Spanish) issued a statement on April 21 to University Education Minister César Trompiz regarding to the destruction caused at the Institute of Oceanography of UDO four days earlier. The 15 rectors who make up the Averu denounced all the acts of vandalism committed against Venezuelan universities, «which are an attack on the national heritage,» and required to Trompiz his intervention with the competent organizations for the security and protection of the universities.

ODH-ULA require that the Venezuelan state investigate these unfortunate events and guarantee security for the universities of the country, whose meager budgets limit the hiring of sufficient security personnel, which is already considerably reduced due in part to the forced migration of more than five million Venezuelans as a result of the complex humanitarian emergency that Venezuela is experiencing.

Vandalism against Venezuelan universities is not in quarantine

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