English translation of an official statement issued by Del Valle University (Cali, Colombia)
Del Valle University, 16th January 2016
The Academic Council condemns the acts of violence committed on the university campus on January 13th.
On January 13th, at 6:30 p.m., a group of hooded people threw a lethal device known as a papa explosiva (explosive potato) at the central administration building. Later, they distributed newsletters and spray-painted slogans, identifying themselves as Tejido Rebelde (Rebel Tissue/Fabric) and calling for feminist self-defense. The bomb exploded inside the office of the Vice-president of Investigation, and the blast wave seriously injured Sandra Juliana Toro, former director of the International Relations Office, a public servant who has enabled hundreds of university students to study on foreign campuses. Sandra Juliana was admitted to the Clínica de Occidente medical center with allegedly permanent ear injuries. Luckily, just minutes before the explosion, another woman had left the office. It is therefore just a coincidence that we are not lamenting the death or mutilation of another member of the university community.
The Academic Council wishes to show solidarity with Sandra Juliana Toro, to send her a message of encouragement and to condemn, vigorously, these acts of violence that make an attempt on the life of defenseless people, like the central administration staff or any other member of the university community. Nothing can justify these kinds of acts. The University is a center of culture, knowledge, peace-building and unconditional respect for life, where our youth is educated on society’s highest values, on the defense of democracy and respect for human rights and ethnic, racial and gender differences. Therefore, nothing could more alien to the university ethos than these acts of violence that damage the university. Let’s take into account that these days, in La Habana, the end of a 60-plus years conflict is being negotiated through dialogue; a conflict that has inflicted pain, death and bloodshed on Colombian society. Thus, the Academic Council finds it contradictory and incomprehensible, to say the least, that these groups continue to make use of violent action, especially considering that the student movement has recently shown political maturity: under MANE’s [Mesa Amplia Nacional Estudiantil, “National Student Board”] coordination, they have managed to bring governmental policies into question and even make them backtrack. Even more recently, they managed to draw the attention of both the government and the Cauca Valley’s society towards supporting the Hospital Universitario del Valle [Del Valle University Hospital]. On the contrary, several decades of violent expression by means of the tropel [“the horde”, a violent and riot-like protest, usually involving university students and police intervention] never extended past the Pasoancho district, and just achieved demobilization and tragic events like the death or mutilation of students and young police officers.
The feminist movement has historically been a peaceful, democratic, life-defending movement, and it gave society the most important counter-cultural revolution of modern history. Therefore, it is politically incongruous that these actions, that are claimed to be on behalf of women, ended up affecting, both physically and psychologically, a woman, of all things.
Besides this public condemnation and call for solidarity, the University will be reporting the personal injuries and damage to public property, as these actions go beyond political expression and fit within criminal legislation.
The Academic Council encourages the students, staff, professors, workers and women organizations to express their thoughts through politically vigorous actions, but always contributing to the building of a peace culture that is very necessary for the country and for those who coexist daily at Public University.
Cali, 15th January 2016
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