-Published: Wednesday, October 23, 2019-
Public Universities reach a satisfactory agreement with the government
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
After six hours of negotiation, the university and government authorities reached an agreement to respond to the demands of university students.
According to the statement of the University of Costa Rica, the main point of agreement is that the government will recognize the items of the Special Fund for Higher Education, known as FEES, with this, the total budget for 2020.
The rector of the University of Costa Rica, Henning Jensen said that this agreement ensures that articles 84 and 85 of the Political Constitution are respected, thereby ensuring the autonomy of public universities.
The agreement is partly as a result of university students marched from San Pedro to Presidential House in the Zapote district Tuesday to protest deep cuts in the higher education budgets.
According to traffic police officials, the march was peaceful and only caused blockage on the roads due to the passage of students. There were no detainees for the protests, traffic officials said.
Víctor Morales, minister of the Presidency, said that representatives of public universities and the government met Tuesday to achieve a solution to the complaints of students and employees of the universities.
"The government has been very clear in the sense of not allowing the Special Fund for Higher Education to be lowered. Rather we are in the mood to strengthen it and support public education," said Morales, referring to the budget of public universities.
As A.M. Costa Rica reported Monday, the administration of the University of Costa Rica announced its support for the students and employees who planned a march. The reduction in the budgets came from the legislature and not the Presidency.
"All university authorities of academic and administrative units are called upon to promote and organize activities related to these issues," said the university in its statement. "Employees and students who participate in the march of Oct. 22 have the corresponding permission throughout the day, to attend such activity."
The marchers requested the Ministry of Finance to make adjustments and send back to lawmakers the original budget before it was reduced by the deputies.
Last week the Committee on Tax Affairs of the Legislative Assembly reduced the budget from about $120,779,680 by half, which is approximately $60,389,840.
Since last week, students protested within the facilities of two public universities, the University of Costa Rica in San Pedro in the Province of San José, and the National University in Heredia.
According to the police report, students from the University of Costa Rica put graffiti on the walls of the Faculty of Social Sciences building in protest and stopped the traffic in front of the university for several hours. University authorities announced that they will begin the process of evaluating the facilities for damage caused by the students.
The authorities of the university confirmed that the building is not owned by the university because it was built with a loan from the World Bank that was handled through the Bank of Costa Rica in 2011.
"The Faculty of Social Sciences, this building belongs to the UCR-BCR 2011 Trust (between the university and the Bank of Costa Rica), so it is not owned by the University of Costa Rica," said the university in its statement. "The administration announced that it has already received a trust application for the respective valuation, which will be made as soon as possible."
According to Jeffrey Dimarco, head of the University General Services Office, which is currently a tenant of the building, "the institution is committed to protecting and, in case of damage, to repair them."
According to the authorities, there are other buildings that also belong to the same trust, such as the facilities of the Faculty of Law, the Faculty of Engineering and the Plaza de la Autonomía.
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