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Colombia: Students
Country Study > Chapter 4 > Government and Politics > Political Dynamics > Interest Groups > Students


As in the rest of Latin America, students had a tradition of political activism in Colombia. Nevertheless, their importance in Colombian politics was marginal until the "days of May" in 1957 when their protest demonstrations and efforts to enforce a civic strike played a key role in the overthrow of the Rojas Pinilla regime. Subsequently, their protests often centered on university issues but also included domestic concerns, such as increases in bus fares, and on international themes, especially antiimperialism . Although the students occasionally aligned themselves with other groups, such as labor, in seeking to promote reforms, most often they were unable to coordinate their activities or to create a powerful national organization. Government repression and division within the Colombian left, which affected student groups as well, inhibited the formation of a unified national student movement in Colombia during the 1970s and much of the 1980s. Political activism was most pronounced among university students, primarily at the National University of Colombia (Universidad Nacional de Colombia -- UNC) in Bogotá but also at the universities of Valle, Antioquia, Cauca, and Los Andes. Repression of students in the 1980s was not so severe as in the 1970s, when many students saw no alternative to joining the guerrilla ranks. In May 1984, however, the UNC's Bogotá branch closed its doors to some 20,000 students following a protest in which security forces shot 10 students.

The principal problems facing the public universities in 1987 included financial crises, deteriorating academic quality, and a lack of cohesive government policy toward state institutions. A national congress, held by about 3,000 university and high school delegates in Bogotá in May 1987, and massive student rallies in the preceding months reflected continued student discontent.

Data as of December 1988

Last Updated: December 1988

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Colombia was first published in 1988. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

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