The roof of Venezuela’s largest public university fell apart

A section of Universidad Central de Venezuela, the country largest university, designated as a World Heritage by Unesco in 2000, caved on Wednesday.

Students and alumni of the UCV showed their grief through Twitter. They denounced the abandonment of the university. Photo: Twitter.

The Venezuelan Central University (UCV in Spanish) is the largest public institution in the country. The section, some 50 meters of the concrete canopy covering a walkway that connects different faculties, it is part of Ciudad Universitaria, a campus for 60,000 students, 10,000 professors, and some 10,000 employees that includes two Olympic stadiums and its university hospital.

The campus includes works by Alexander Calder, Henri Laurens, Victor Vasarely, Alejandro Otero, Mateo Manaure, and Jean Arp. Military dictatorships and democratic governments alike worked together over the decades to finish the sprawling university, which is entirely free.

However, after Hugo Chavez took over in 1998, the autonomy UCV had enjoyed even in the tumultuous 1960s became threatened, with student leaders now accusing the Maduro regime of implementing budget asphyxiation against the university that has translated into the current disrepair.

Hours after the collapse, the UNESCO reported that it was willing to help UCV authorities to repair the roof of the corridor, part of the masterpiece of modern architecture that represents the university, designed by Venezuelan architect Carlos Raul Villanueva, and declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2000.

“Part of the covered corridors of the University City of Caracas of the UCV, a World Heritage site collapsed. UNESCO is concerned about the state of this masterpiece of modern architecture and is ready to help the local authorities,” says UNESCO tweet in Spanish.

The Maduro regime made promises of support without committing to a figure for the works or offering a date for repairs to begin.

“Today, we are devastated about what happened in one of the halls of our university where generations of citizens spent their lives. This another example of the bad conditions in which the institution finds itself,” student leader Daniel Diaz, told El Pitazo.

In a report presented to the University Council, the students union blamed the catastrophe to “the budgetary asphyxiation to which the government of Nicolás Maduro has submitted it for years.”

“The entire corridor was cordoned off and disabled. Today it was the corridor, and tomorrow, we can´t know what else it will be,” said Díaz.

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