The presence of armed forces in colleges or universities is a controversial issue, since it is in Colombia’s constitution that they are not allowed to enter campuses.
According to Caracol Radio, rioters infiltrated the campus last Wednesday. They burned administrative buildings and threw “potato bombs” at buildings. The damages caused by the demonstration cost the university around $1.96 million.
Minister of Defence Rodrigo Rivera indicated that those responsible for the damage have ties to the FARC.
In an article published by newspaper El Espectador, Rivera said he “has no doubt in the presence of FARC on the UIS campus; the PC3 (Clandestine Colombian Communist Party), the Bolivarian militias are part of the structure of the FARC.”
Colombia’s Minister of Defence responded to the riots by offering a monetary reward for the capture of the rioters. He also authorized police and military presence on the university’s campuses.
“The federal government offers a $28,000 reward for information leading to the capture of those responsible for the riots last Wednesday.”
Rivera also gave instructions for the authorities to intensify operations in order to “destroy the nest of terrorism that is in the UIS.”
Finally, the minister authorized “the presence of military and police inside the Universidad Industrial de Santander and its surroundings, to control entry to the school and prevent future abuses and acts of terrorism of FARC guerrillas disguising themselves as students.”
According to Caracol Radio, 200 members of Colombia’s police and army will patrol UIS campuses 24 hours a day for the immediate future.
Colombia’s Armed Forces Commander in Chief agreed that the FARC is recruiting and training students on Colombian university campuses, reported El Universal Tuesday.
Admiral Edgar Cely said the FARC has a plan “that establishes that it is important to penetrate and infiltrate the universities and colleges, and make [the students] their allies.” Therefore members have “trained many students” in Colombia’s educational institutions.