26 November, 2022

University of El Salvador commemorates 180 Founding anniversary

National University of El Salvador. Photo: Courtesy.

By José Eduardo Cubías Colorado

The history of the University of El Salvador has paralleled the history of this troubled country. Twenty years had passed since Independence, when a 16 February 1841, this house of studies was founded, since then the public life of this University, has left its mark on the presidential terms, be it liberal or conservative.

The University of El Salvador officially started a 2 February 1849, the students have raised the flag of struggle for academic freedom, university autonomy, respect for Human Rights and fierce repression against the university community, from the military dictatorships and their state apparatus.

The prestigious university from the beginning, has led popular movements against nefarious governments, dictatorial, undemocratic, at the cost of sacrifice, the pain, the blood and mourning of the fallen in these struggles.

Photo: Courtesy of the General Secretariat of the UES.

Academically, the students were against the interference of the Church, with dogma and the cloister as scholastic forms of teaching.

Likewise, of state control in political and economic matters, in this context the bitter struggles of liberals for a secular education are remembered, free will that Gerardo Barrios praised in those struggles against conservatives, and its infamous leader Francisco Dueñas.

With the passage of time, in 1930 the university faces a new adversary, The coffee oligarchy, like a new economy class, that exercises its dominance in the political and social. The Oligarchy viewed the University as a threat to its capitalist interests.

Photo: Courtesy of the General Secretariat of the UES.

To the struggles for academic freedom and university autonomy, the demand for a fair budget is added, the university requires funds for its operation and development, while the conservatives rule, the budget is only enough to pay salaries and administrative expenses,  this demand is still maintained.

Dynasties, presidential dictatorships, civilians and military have always affected the university, this has worked between the ups and downs of infighting between liberals and conservatives. It is good to remember that these fratricidal civil wars left the state coffers empty and without funds for the university.

However in the early 1900s, when the university began to be besieged and persecuted, teachers, students and officials are victims of repression for defending the struggles and social causes of the people, professionals who promoted social awareness in university classrooms.

Photo: Courtesy of the General Secretariat of the UES.

This is how new popular organizations emerge and the University leads the protest movement, based on organization and participation, such as the "Sit-down strike" that managed to overthrow the tyrant Maximiliano Hernández Martínez in 1944.

In the 50s, The Alma Mater faces a series of events between them, electoral fraud, dictatorial regimes under a succession of military presidents, which the University of El Salvador continued to challenge, It is here where once again the university student organizations regain forces in defense of the autonomy of Latina university as a flag of struggle.

Son 180 years that the university has played an important role in the political context, historical, educational and cultural of El Salvador.