University Students Occupy Facilities Against Threat of Eviction
San Vicente, El Salvador: On October 19, the Ministry of Education (MINED) ordered the University of El Salvador (UES) to vacate a property that it has used for educational purposes for more than ten years. In 2019, the ministry entered a legal agreement to officially donate the facilities to the UES but is now backing out of the deal. In response, on October 25, university students from the Anastasio Aquino Student Resistance Bloc (BREA) occupied facilities of the Anastasio Aquino University Campus of the Central-East Multidisciplinary Institute of the UES (FMP-UES) to prevent the eviction officially ordered by the Vice Ministry of Education and Technology.
In 2019, the property was given to the FMP-UES by the MINED as a donation; however, the current administration has called for it to be returned, threatening to nullify what had been a definitive transfer of the premises.
A student from the BREA participating in the protests told CISPES that the student occupation is being carried out “to guarantee better facilities for each and every” student on the campus. "We cannot allow that this space, in which we’ve invested so much to maintain, be lost to the government’s attempts to dismantle the UES.”
The threat of eviction comes among other recent cuts to university funding. The UES is the only public university in the country. Yet in the 2022 national budget proposal, the Bukele administration cut approximately $15 million in UES funding compared with the previous year.
The BREA is a student organization that operates on the UES campus in the department of San Vicente, in the Central-East region of the country. The BREA-led negotiations resulted in the donation of the RUAA building for use by the student body, after it was requested from the MINED in 2018.
In a solidarity statement with BREA, the Fuerza Estudiantil Salvadoreña (Salvadoran Student Force) said, "This dictatorial government, through these and other recent actions, such as the reduction of the budget in 2022 for the UES, only lays bare, once again, its complete lack of interest in strengthening a free, quality public education. In addition, we applaud the brave decision of La BREA to take over the university campus to defend it; their fight against this threat gives us a lesson in resistance and rebellion in defense of university spaces and certainty in the student struggle."
To date, the MINED has refused to establish a dialogue with the student organization and says that it needs the property to implement a teacher training program. Meanwhile, teachers continue to denounce efforts by the administration to “prepare the landscape for privatization of education” by drying up resources, among other tactics.