Education International has returned to the defence of embattled Colombian academic, Miguel Angel Beltran, issuing a letter calling for an end to false accusations and a politically motivated ban barring him from universities.
Education International (EI) and other education unions worldwide have for many years followed closely the plight of Beltran, a sociology lecturer at the National University of Colombia (UNAL), who in 2009 was falsely accused of having links to the Colombian terrorist group FARC.
In June 2011, after two years of incarceration, Beltran was finally cleared of all charges and released when a Colombian court ruled that the evidence used against him was flawed.
However, despite the court’s decision finding Beltran not guilty, last year Colombia’s Inspector General Alejandro Ordóñez Maldonado used the same questionable evidence to institute a ban preventing Beltran from serving at any public universities in Colombia for 13 years. Beltran’s appeal to reverse the ban was rejected.
For many, including EI, the Inspector General’s use of already rejected evidence to bar Beltran from the classroom appears to be politically motivated.
In its letter addressed to the Inspector General and to the Rector of the University, EI strongly asserts the principles of university autonomy and defends the right to freedom of expression and academic inquiry.