Progress, Policy, and Protest: Economic Challenges and the Student Movements of the 1920s

No Thumbnail Available
Derrick, James Weigle
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Middle Tennessee State University
Throughout Colombia’s early Twentieth Century, university students carved out political importance and played a critical role in precipitating major political events. The student mobilizations in 1909 toppled a regime, while helping end the Conservative Party’s control of the state. While the political and social motivations for mobilizing against the state are well known, I rather explore the economic and socioeconomic issues behind why the students politicized and then mobilized, and I argue that economic issues played large roles in motivating the students to mobilize against the state. Analyzing the student publications makes clear that students found highly important issues such as public debt, interest rates, the money supply, and greater monetary policy. They also paid clear attention to fiscal policy, worker’s rights, public spending, and tax rates, and then publicly criticized collusion and racketeering within the government, contracts with foreign firms, state policy regarding land concessions. In this last regard, the U.S. banking and oil sectors absorbed most of the attention. Even within the prevalent idea of university reform, I argue that students focused on socioeconomic issues. Although considered a more sociopolitical concept, they framed their rhetoric on socioeconomic concepts such as national economic progress and professional advancement within the economy. The fact that the height of the student movements occurred in the 1920s further reinforces this notion of student economic motivations, because the nation experienced rapid economic growth.
Colombia, Economics, Socioeconomics, Student movements, University reform, Latin American history