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United in Opposition: the D.C. Community Protests Georgetown’s Appointment of Álvaro Uribe
WASHINGTON - September 1 - Professors, students and alumni of Georgetown University met with a diverse group of activists last night, the 31st of August, to plan their protest of the school’s hiring of Alvaro Uribe, the ex-president of Colombia. The university will also award Uribe a “Distinguished Scholar” fellowship.
At the end of July, the university announced that Uribe would be teaching a seminar in September and October in its School of Foreign Service on the theme of Global Leadership. Organizations in Washington, D.C. working for peace and justice want to make sure to educate Georgetown students and the surrounding community about the atrocities committed during Uribe’s presidency—including the displacement of over 3 million Colombians, the persecution of journalists and human rights activists, and the murder of over 3,000 and civilians in the now-infamous “false positives” scandal. Shortly before Uribe left office, authorities uncovered a mass grave containing 2,000 bodies, leading them to believe that the practice of forced disappearance continues unabated in Colombia today.
During the long and energetic meeting, which took place in the Casa de Pueblo in the Mt. Pleasant neighborhood of Washington, D.C., the coalition discussed what form their protest should take in order to be most effective.
Organizations represented include the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker Foundation, Witness for Peace, the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES), the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), and No War on Cuba, among others.
“I’m ashamed that a U.S. university would hire someone like Uribe, but after the meeting I felt hopeful,” said Becca Polk, an intern with SOA Watch, “not only because of the incredible turnout but the energy and dedication demonstrated in working for human rights.”
At the end of the bilingual meeting, the group divided into four sub-committees: media relations, community outreach, Georgetown outreach, and direct action/street presence. Each group will plan actions to be taken when Uribe arrives on the 8th of September.