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On February 22, several Executive Council members of the Latin American Studies Association (LASA), including WOLA’s Senior Fellow David Smilde, released a statement expressing their concern about the serious situation of professors in Venezuelan public universities, whose ability to carry out their academic work adequately is being seriously undermined by the deterioration of their salaries and working conditions. The lack of adequate remuneration affects academic freedom and the right to education of university students, compromising the scientific and social development of the country.

The statement urged that in order to guarantee the right to freedom of expression and academic freedom, it is essential to ensure the labor rights of university professors so that they can have decent salaries and living conditions. In Venezuela, the salary of university professors has decreased by 95% since 2001. Today, a typical salary for a university professor does not cover the cost of food. For this reason, since January 2023, weekly mass protests throughout the country have been held involving teachers, professors of all levels and public administration workers. As these protests persist, the government’s refusal to improve working conditions is accompanied by threats, arrests of demonstrators by the security forces, trials, bans on participation in protests, intimidation and the use of para-state violence.

In this sense, LASA released this statement to call on the Venezuelan government to ensure the full right to academic freedom, fair remuneration and social benefits so that the academic community can carry out its most important tasks: researching, transmitting and sharing knowledge.

You can read the full statement here.