(Translated by David Brown, CSN Volunteer Translator)

Press Office, Senator Jorge Enrique Robledo, Polo Democrático Alternativo[1]  Speaker in the Senate.  Bogotá, May 10, 2007.

The Polo Democrático Alternativo (PDA)* went on record with a negative vote in the senate against the Legislative Act , Transferencia, a proceeding during which uribism (those that support President Alvaro Uribe) did not permit the list of senators who wanted to speak to be exhausted, and did not even permit the spokesperson of Polo Democratico Alternativo to voice his opinion before the vote.
This negative vote has, as its principal basis, the fact that the law seeks to reduce resources for health, education, and basic sanitation  to the regions by 49.8 trillion pesos, which represents 19.4 trillion[2]  (pesos, approx. 9.7 billion** US$)  in cuts to the departments and 30.4 trillion in cuts to the municipalities.  The following are some of the sums that will be lost:  Caldas:  $503,841 million, Tolima: $786,069 million, Chocó: $590,000 million, Bogotá:  $4.6 trillion, Barranquilla: $863 billion, Antioquia: $2.09 trillion,  Bolívar: $924 billion, Nariño: 789 billion, Boyacá: $1.01 trillion and Risaralda: $260 billion pesos.

The debate also proved that the government is providing inflated statistics, such as when the health of 5 million Colombians is counted as covered when, even if they are affiliated with social security have their rights suspended because they lost their jobs or because their bosses did not pay the monthly fee, and also when it reports 3.8 million children that have ceased attending school as matriculated students..
Senator Jorge Enrique Robledo denounced the basis of the decision to hit the poor of Colombia the hardest.  He explained that the cuts began when they were so ordered by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), through the Stand By accord of December 3rd, 1999 which they ratified on December 20, 2001 with an annex titled “IMF embraces Plan Colombia” and which was followed with another pact with the same bankers on May 23rd, 2006.

Whoever reads the last part of the text, explained the Polo spokes-person, will prove to themselves that the statements of the Uribe wing, that there will no be cuts or that these would be made because these expenditures are no longer necessary, are false.  The paragraph  says
“Transfers.  According to the norms in effect beginning in 2009 the transfer scheme of resources for territories must reestablish that which existed until 2001 which require that the transfers grow in the same proportion as those of the current incomes of the central administration.   In truth, to make the said change effective, would constitute an attack on the sustainability of central administration finances, the government will present a proposal of constitutional reform to the congress that, in broad strokes, will seek to make the current scheme permanent, whereas it is currently of a transitory nature.”


Declaration by The Polo Democrático Alternativo wing in the congress, May 10, 2007.

Faithful as ever to neo-liberal politics since taking office in August of 2002, Alvaro Uribe Velez has placed all his efforts into delivering more blows to the already injured public finance system of the state universities. By decrees and measures, through the actions of the Secretary of the Treasury and the irresponsibility of the Minister of Education to the public institutions of higher education he (Uribe) ended the payment of $360 billion pesos between 2003 and 2007, three times the budget of Colciencias***[3]  in one year.  

With the National Development Plan of 2006-2007, will come the biggest assault against public resources provided to the Universities.  Articles 34 and 38 approved by the uribista majorities in the congress deepened the financial adjustments over those to which various universities have already been submitted, taking them even to the point of closure, such as the case with the University of the Atlantic.  The government, moreover, in a veiled form and with a selfish document, divests itself of responsibility for the universities´ pension liability. In the case of the National University, for example, the official aggression will have disastrous consequences because this will cause an accumulated a pension debt of four trillion pesos, with which the government  pushes them to finance this debt with scandalous raises in tuition, cuts to student welfare and a brutal decline in academic quality.

The official politics regarding educational material is none other than that of deepening privatization. Academic quality, national development and the access of the poor to higher education will be the losers.  The  continuing of the current educational policies being applied in Colombia today will make it impossible to escape from the scientific and technological backwardness to which the minorities that hold power  today have condemned us.  

The PDA wing in the congress expresses its emphatic rejection of the Development Plan and especially of the aggression against the public universities.   Accordingly, it offers solidarity it’s with the democratic demands that the university community is expressing and calls upon all Colombians to support them as well.

Jorge Enrique  Robledo
Senate PDA Speaker
Germán Reyes  Forero
PDA Speaker in the house

[1] * Alternative Democratic Pole a political party in Colombia, referred to by the acronym PDA, the result of a merger of seven parties of the Alternativa Democrática and Polo Democrático

[2] ** In Spanish, billón means a million millions (trillion in English), while in English a billion is a thousand million.,

[3] <***Colciencias:  Colombian Institute for the Development of Science and Technology “Francisco José de Caldas”

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