Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Protesters Continue Call for Uribe’s Exit

*Updated 12:57 a.m. Nov. 17. This article was originally published Nov. 3.*

About 100 students and supporters of the Adios Uribe Coalition gathered in Red Square on Wednesday in continued protest over former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe Vélez’s presence on campus.

According to Catalina Nieto, a representative of Witness for Peace who helped organize the event, the protest was intended to expose Uribe’s alleged human rights violations, which activists say include the displacement of 2.4 million people.

In August, Uribe was named a Distinguished Scholar in the Practice of Global Leadership in the School of Foreign Service, and has given lectures this semester. His term as a lecturer is set to end on Nov. 12, at which point activists say the university should sever ties with the former president.

Protesters gathered in Red Square this afternoon and directed students to the four informational stations at which participants could learn about Uribe’s presidency and the crimes he allegedly committed. About 20 students gathered in counterprotest to support Uribe.

The protest, or peace rally, which began at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, featured several speakers including Georgetown students and professors as well as outside activists including Gerardo Cajamarca, a Colombian native.

Professor Colman McCarthy, adjunct professor at the Law Center and founder-director of The Center for Teaching Peace, led off the rally by calling on Georgetown to better its social rights resume.

“This is a good university, but it will never be a great school until it stops inviting people who have a history of violence,” he said in his speech.

cCarthy also contended that Georgetown has brought other human rights violators to the school in the past, citing Henry Kissinger as an example.

“This school has a history of human rights violations,” he said.

Other speakers called on the university to dismiss Uribe and to consider the implications of its Catholic identity.

“Lots of human rights violations have occurred in Colombia. We know, they’ve been documented,” said Eli McCarthy, professor in the Program on Justice and Peace. “The priority of the poor and the marginalized are a central theme in Catholic Social Teaching, so we need to reverse or correct this extension of the power differential [between Uribe and victims of human rights violations in Colombia].”

Professor Mark Lance, director of the Program on Justice and Peace, invited Georgetown students to reconsider the purpose of their education.

“[Georgetown] brought Uribe here for one simple reason – because he was a president, because he had his hand on the tiller of power, and that’s all that mattered” Lance said in a speech.

“If you are powerful, if you run national organizations, you are welcome here, because that fits into a conception of education that is shared by many administrators, faculty, and, I’m afraid, many students,” Lance added.

For the protesters, Uribe’s presence is viewed as marring the school’s image, and many students expressed frustration with the administration’s seeming disregard for student opinions.

“It’s kind of embarrassing that we have someone like Uribe on campus,” said Sara Blackwell (LAW ’13). “I feel like the student body should have more power.”

Blackwell also said that a group of law students have drafted a proposal that they will present to the administration that could potentially give more influence to the students in the future.

For Uribe supporters, however, Wednesday’s demonstration seems to ignore all the good that Uribe has done, and many believe that the university needs to be more open to different ideas.

“Faculty needs to be committed to intellectual maturity of the community and they need to be accepting of other viewpoints,” said Alma Caballero (SFS ’13). ” It opposes what we stand for as a community to negate his views.”

According Rafael Velasquez (COL ’14), protesting Uribe’s presence on the grounds of his human rights violations only limits his own human right to free speech.

“Beside from thinking that he has been an incredible person, maybe one of the best presidents in South America so far, he deserves a voice. Why can’t he talk? The people that are protesting, they should go to one of his classes and ask him questions there. They shouldn’t ask him to just leave.”

**Correction:** This article originally misattributed a quote to Eli McCarthy, professor in the Program on Justice and Peace. “We have to dismiss [Uribe] if we want to be in accord with Catholic social teaching” now reads, “The priority of the poor and the marginalized are a central theme in Catholic Social Teaching, so we need to reverse or correct this extension of the power differential [between Uribe and victims of human rights violations in Colombia].” “

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