As democracy is weakened and economic and social conditions deteriorate, there are increasing threats to academic freedom and autonomy in Venezuelan universities. Although academic freedom and university autonomy are legally and constitutionally recognized, public policies and ‘new legislation’ undermine them. Military and paramilitary forces violently repress student protests. Frequently, students are arbitrarily detained, physically attacked, and psychologically pressured through interrogations about their political views and their supposed “plans to destabilize the government”. A parallel system of non-autonomous universities has been created under a pensée unique established by the Socialist Plans of the Nation. Discrimination has increased, both in autonomous and non-autonomous universities.
In this paper, Mayda Hocevar, David Gómez, and Nelson Rivas expose the legal and political policies undermining academic freedom in Venezuela under the governments of former president Hugo Chávez and current president Nicolás Maduro. Patterns of attacks against autonomous universities by police and military forces, as well as cases of political discrimination are also described.