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: January 13, 2023

Attack Types: Other

Institution(s):Muntú Bantú Foundation

Region & Country:Americas | Colombia

New or Ongoing:New Incident

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.  

Sources:

https://www.concernedhistorians.org/ca/104.pdf 

https://lasaweb.org/en/news/statement-sergio-antonio-mosquera/ 

https://www.breakinglatest.news/news/threats-forced-the-closure-of-the-muntu-bantu-cultural-foundation/

https://lab.org.uk/afro-colombian-memory-under-attack/ 

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El 13 de enero de 2023, el historiador afrocolombiano Sergio Antonio Mosquera anunció que se había visto obligado a cerrar el único centro y museo de la diáspora africana en Colombia, la Fundación Muntú Bantú, después de que bandas locales intentaran extorsionar y amenazaran de muerte a los dirigentes de la Fundación. Mosquera es un historiador y escritor con amplia experiencia en historia afrocolombiana. En 2009 creó la Fundación, con sede en Quibdó, capital del departamento del Chocó, que rápidamente se convirtió en el único museo y centro educativo del país dedicado a la diáspora africana, desempeñando un papel cultural y educativo clave en el país. Según los informes, los grupos armados del departamento del Chocó iniciaron una campaña de extorsión contra el Centro, amenazando de muerte a Mosquera y a la directora de la Fundación, María Fernanda Parra. En consecuencia, se vieron obligados a cerrar la fundación.

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Scholars at Risk (SAR) is a member of the Coalition for Academic Freedom in the Americas (CAFA), and partners with CAFA on Americas-focused monitoring activities. Relevant incidents, with factual details translated into Spanish, appear on both SAR and CAFA websites.

Scholars at Risk (SAR) es una institución que integra la Coalición por la Libertad Académica en las Américas (CLAA). SAR trabaja junto con la CLAA en el monitoreo de situaciones en las Américas. Los incidentes relevantes que reportamos, con descripción de hechos detallados en español, aparecen tanto en los portales de SAR como de la CLAA.