On January 13, 2023, Afro-Colombian historian Sergio Antonio Mosquera announced that he was forced to shut down the only African diasporic center and museum in Colombia, the Fundación Muntú Bantú (Muntú Bantú Foundation), after local gangs attempted to extort money and made death threats against the Foundation’s leadership.
Mosquera is a widely published historian and author, with expertise in Afro-Colombian history. In 2009, he established the Foundation, located in Chocó Department’s capital Quibdó, and it quickly became the country’s only African diasporic museum and education center, playing a key cultural and educational role in the country.
According to reports, armed groups in Chocó Department began a campaign of extortion against the Center, threatening the lives of Mosquera and the Foundation’s director, María Fernanda Parra, if they did not pay. Consequently, they were forced to close the foundation.
Scholars at Risk is concerned about criminal actions targeting academic institutions, resulting in their closure. Such actions, particularly when accompanied by violent threats to scholars or other members of the higher education community, chill academic expression and deprive nations of sources of national dialogue and scholarship, and erode the rights to academic freedom and the right to education.