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University of Costa Rica Must Not Host Nicolás Maduro

By: Contributor - Jan 27, 2015, 9:06 am

EspañolTo mark the forthcoming Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) summit in Costa Rica, the University of Costa Rica (UCR) Student Federation and university authorities have decided to invite three South American presidents to speak at the Rodrigo Facio campus on January 28.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has no business visiting the UCR, given his violation of students' rights.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has no business visiting the UCR, given his violation of students’ rights. (Operation Transparency)

The student union reached out to three potential speakers: outgoing Uruguayan head of state José Mujica, Bolivian President Evo Morales, and Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro. The conference purports to focus on “the integration of Latin-American countries,” and while the nonsense Evo Morales has uttered is no secret to anyone, the possible visit of Nicolás Maduro to Costa Rica is highly concerning.

As a Costa Rican and president of a political youth movement, I say this: Nicolás Maduro is not welcome here. Costa Rica is a country with a strong record on the defense and promotion of freedom, democracy, and peace. Maduro, whose government has consistently damaged Venezuelan democracy and violated human rights, completely fails to correspond with our country’s values.

Costa Rica has always embraced refugees and dissidents, and is home to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR). To invite someone who flings opposition politicians into jail, and who has decided to withdraw his country from the IACHR, is awkward to say the very least.

Maduro will probably visit the country anyway for the CELAC summit, but it’s completely out of line for UCR to extend an invitation. How can UCR, a public university no less, embrace the head of a government that has persecuted students and whose armed forces murdered them in protests?

Could it be that the federation only represents progressive students? Or maybe it’s that the students that don’t hold socialist views don’t enjoy the same rights as their classmates. The UCR prides itself in defending student rights, but in this invitation shows no thought for the fundamental rights stripped from Venezuelan students.

Maduro’s visit casts doubt on the values and principles held by the UCR. Are human rights really non-negotiable for the institution? Or could it be that the only violations that the rectors and the federation care about are those inflicted on students on the socialist side of the ideological spectrum? These institutions should do well to ponder on such questions and decide whether they really wish to host such an enemy of of peace, democracy, and freedom.

We remain watchful for the cancellation of Maduro’s invitation. Let’s not taint UCR’s prestige just to please the ideological whims of a small group.

Translated by Daniel Duarte.