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ARGENTINA | 19-04-2024 10:25

UBA students and teachers demonstrate against Milei's cutbacks

Students and teachers of the University of Buenos Aires protested with public classes in the street and symbolic embraces of buildings against the government’s drastic austerity.

Students and teachers of the University of Buenos Aires (UBA) protested last Thursday with public classes in the street and symbolic embraces of buildings against the government’s drastic austerity, which could lead to the institution closing its doors in two or three months’ time. 

President Javier Milei has not updated the budget of the university, which must run on 2023 funds when the country is suffering 288 percent annual inflation.

"If the situation does not change, UBA could close down in two or three months’ time," Ricardo Gelpi, chancellor of the country’s most important university with over 300,000 students, told a Thursday press conference. 

"We have never experienced this situation before in the last 40 years of democracy," pointed out Gelpi, adding: "We have reached an extremely grave situation compromising the future of hundreds of thousands of Argentines."

UBA, which has declared itself to be in a "budget emergency," has restricted the use of electricity and gas while since Wednesday its halls and corridors have been in darkness without air conditioning or heating and with its lifts reserved for the handicapped.

Public universities nationwide have called a national march for next Tuesday which is expected to be massive.

In recent weeks public classes have been given in the street while last Thursday hundreds of people symbolically embraced Clínicas, one of the six hospitals dependent on the UBA, which, according to its director Marcelo Melo, is working "at 30 or 40 percent of its capacity" due to lack of funds.

Presidential Spokesman Manuel Adorni assured last Wednesday that "the universities will not be closing down … since on April 9 a request for a budget increase was received and is being processed."

Last month the government had also announced a 70-percent increase for the running expenses of national universities, which, as explained by UBA Vice-Chancellor Emiliano Yacobitti to the TN  television news channel, will in the case of UBA only cover running costs, which represent 14 percent of the total.

Earlier this week, members of CONICET scientific research council delivered to the authorities over 1,000 letters of adhesion from foreign researchers in support of Argentine science in the face of the suspension of scholarships and dismissals.

Milei denounced university "indoctrination" in his X account, sharing a series of posters stuck up in the universities by political groupings with slogans against him.
Gabriela Berg, 60, a biochemist and UBA professor who participated in last Thursday’s protest, denies that.

"There is no indoctrination, just as in all universities around the world, there might be political militants but belonging to all political parties – none are banned," she said.

 

– TIMES/AFP

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