The article describes the increasing threats to academic freedom and autonomy in Venezuelan universities as democracy becomes weakened and economic and social conditions deteriorate. Although academic freedom and university autonomy are legally and constitutionally recognized, public policies and ‘new legislation’ undermine them. Student protests are excessively repressed by military and paramilitary forces; arbitrary detentions, where students are physically attacked and psychologically pressured through interrogations on their political view and about their supposedly “plans to destabilize the government” are frequent. A parallel system of non-autonomous universities —Bolivarian and Military Universities—has been created under a pensée unique —a (single thought) model— established both at the First and Second Socialist Plans of the Nation. Discrimination towards professors and students by political reasons has increased, both in autonomous and non-autonomous (Bolivarian) universities. This paper will expose the legal and political policies undermining academic freedom in Venezuela under former president Hugo Chavez and current president Nicolas Maduro governments, describing patterns of attacks against autonomous universities by police and military forces, as well as cases of political discrimination against professors and students.
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