Simón Bolívar UWC [UPDATE]

Following on from my previous post, there has been a massive number of updates and new information appearing. I would suggest you visit the ‘Simon Bolivar UWC Possible Closure Appeal’ facebook group to get all the details. I will however repost the official UWC letter regarding the situation and the on-going Twitter campaign.

Twitter Campaign
Aims to raise the issue with Chavez which the board believes is the most effective way to address the situation.

Send your tweet on Thursday 29 or Friday 30 September ideally at 10:00 Venezuelan time (10.30 EST, 16:30pm CET, 22:30 Hong Kong) or any other time on Thursday or Friday.

Send the following tweet:

@ChavezCandanga AYÚDENOS, instituto #SBUWC internacional de agricultura Barinas está en peligro #SOSFUNDACEA

More details below from

UWC Movement friends
Caracas, 28 September 2011

Dear UWC friend,

Since 1999, a new political period started in Venezuela under the strong leadership of President Hugo Chavez; in his own words the process we are living through is that of the Revolution towards the Socialism of the XXI Century. All Venezuelan institutions have lived through many social, legal, political and economic changes. These changes have taken place at all levels. The name of our country has become the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, constitutional reform took us into the Fifth Republic and there have been many changes to laws, regulations, policies, the national strategic plan, governmental institutions etc. Land law has also been reformed as a result of the agrarian revolution, which seeks a more just distribution of land; the land of many farms has been either expropriated or ‘rescued’.

FUNDACEA, (the SB UWC of Agriculture´s legal non-profit and non-governmental organization) owns a 676-hectare farm, which is essential for its ‘Learning By Doing’ model of education. On 21 September, the National Institute of Land in Venezuela (the INTI) initiated a ‘rescue’ procedure applying to this land. The property was given to FUNDACEA by the National Institute of Educational Cooperation (INCE) in 1993, following two previous lease agreements, on condition that the land was used to develop and maintain the SB UWC of Agriculture.

Simón Bolívar UWC is an educational institution, not a commercial farm; its model of education depends on both a working school farm and a rural development program. The college and its Farm Administration Diploma caters for young people from rural and often poor backgrounds in Venezuela and during the past 23 years, also students from 49 other countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, Asia and Europe. The income farm production is used to supplement the college’s operational expenses.

If the INTI takes the college’s 676 hectares of land, the college would be unable to operate its educational program.

In addition, there is a drastic funding obstacle. Until 2004, the Venezuelan government had contributed almost 40% of its annual income. A further 30% came from a government Multilateral Cooperation Agency agreement for students from Caribbean countries. Although the government has on a number of occasions given assurances about the resumption of its funding, those assurances have come to nothing and the college has had to cope with a 70% fall in its annual income. Furthermore, a change of law in 2010 means that the college is no longer able to rely on those commitments from the private sector that have enabled the college to survive in the intervening years.

The FUNDACEA board and administration has done all it can to keep the college operational and in particular has never ceased in its efforts to secure the reinstatement of the government funding, which is now the key to other sources of funding as well. In the meantime, our reserve and emergency funds have been used in these last seven years of financial struggle

The FUNDACEA board believes that at this point it has only one option: to appeal directly to President Hugo Chavez. Our experience in Venezuela tells us that the most effective way of doing this will be to mobilise the UWC movement to bring the matter to his attention.

We therefore invite you to join us in sending President Chavez a message via twitter @chavezcandanga. If as many people as possible in the UWC movement bring Simón Bolívar UWC of Agriculture to his attention to request his URGENT help, we may succeed in removing the threat to the college. This is our last hope.

President Chavez knows the SB UWC of Agriculture and on two occasions in the past he has spoken, including once publicly, in favour of the college and its mission. Your help now could make him aware of the widespread international support for the college.

So, PLEASE, if you want to help SBUWC join the action, please send your tweet on Thursday 29 or Friday 30 September ideally at 10:00 Venezuelan time (10.30 EST, 16:30pm CET, 22:30 Hong Kong) or any other time on Thursday or Friday. Please send the following tweet in Spanish:

@ChavezCandanga AYÚDENOS, instituto #SBUWC internacional de agricultura Barinas está en peligro #SOSFUNDACEA

The essence of the tweet is:
@chavezcandanga Help us the International institute #SBUWC of Agriculture in Barinas is in danger (PLEASE DO NOT SEND THE ENGLISH VERSION)

Remember that tweets cannot contain more than 140 characters and this is why we ask that you send it in this form, the name in the tweet is how SBUWC is known to President Chavez.

Yours sincerely,
Izamar Alvarez (AC 77-79)
Institutional Relations Director of FUNDACEA
T (58) (212) 793-4612 /