SAR’s Academic Freedom Monitoring Project investigates and reports attacks on higher education with the aim of raising awareness, generating advocacy, and increasing protection for scholars, students, and academic communities. Learn more.

Date of Incident: June 02, 2014

Attack Types: Killings, Violence, Disappearances

Institution(s):Catholic University of Táchira (UCAT) | National Experimental University of Tachira (UNET).

Region & Country:Americas | Venezuela

New or Ongoing:New Incident

On June 2, 2014, student protests on the campuses of the Catholic University of Táchira, as well as the National Experimental University of Táchira, led to clashes with Venezuelan security officers.  The students were reportedly demanding the release of several other student protesters from a jail in Caracas, as well as protesting what they alleged was the arbitrary arrest of the mayor of San Cristobal, Venezuela. 
During the protests, the students reportedly erected barricades, blocking roads. The National Bolivarian Guard and National Bolivarian Police reportedly attempted to disperse the demonstrations using tear gas and rubber bullets.  The clashes resulted in two injuries to police, and four injuries to students. Student demonstrators claimed that their protests were infiltrated by violent, hooded individuals to make their protest appear to be violent and provide government troops with a pretext for the use of force.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about violence on university campuses.  While State and university authorities have a legitimate interest in maintaining order and protecting property, they must do so in ways that are proportional to the situation, that respect peaceful expression, and that minimize the risk of physical injury. Use of excessive force in response to campus unrest unnecessarily increases risks of physical harm to individuals and undermines higher education functions, academic freedom and institutional autonomy.  Similarly, while students have the right to free expression, that right does not extend to violence or the destruction of property; on-campus expression must be undertaken in a manner that is consistent with university values including social responsibility. Student violence against persons or property also creates unnecessary risks of physical harm to individuals and undermines higher education functions, academic freedom and institutional autonomy.