Editor’s note: The following letter remains unedited and in its original form.
June 12, 2017
Florida Atlantic University
To Whom It May Concern:
As an FAU Alumni, I was appalled to learn that FAU officials censored a group of Venezuelan fans who were displaying anti-Nicolas Maduro signs alongside their country’s flag during the Venezuela vs. Ecuador soccer game which took place last week at the FAU Stadium.
Since when is the Right to Freedom of Speech denied to anyone in this great country of ours—especially by officials representing a Higher Learning Institution such as FAU?
Since when do the Venezuelan authorities—who have shamelessly supported the slaughter of 68 innocent students protesting the communist dictatorship Maduro is attempting to install in Venezuela—have the right to order FAU security to prevent anyone from exercising their right to Freedom of Speech?
Since when is it a crime to wave a banner that says, “Down With Dictatorship,” when a Castro Communist regime is currently being installed in Venezuela? When the citizens of that country have neither food nor medicine and can barely maintain their human dignity in the face of such oppression?
Many countries appear to have turned a blind eye on this nation’s plight, and now it is apparent that the Soccer Federations do not want the world to learn of what is really happening in Venezuela, which to me makes them complicit regarding the wanton murder of innocent students whose only crime is to want a better and free country for their future.
The fans stated that they were first warned by a Venezuelan woman who had no affiliation whatsoever with FAU that they had to put away their banner or the police would be called—and they would be kicked out of the FAU Stadium. This warning was later followed by the same from an FAU official, who made them take down the “Down With Dictatorship” banner.
As a citizen of both the USA and Venezuela, I am ashamed that my Alma Mater would stoop this low, to threaten a group of soccer fans who, in no manner presented themselves as violent, simply because they were exercising their Right to the Freedom of Speech.
I do earnestly hope that FAU officials realize their mistake and publicly apologize for attempting to violate the Right to the basic Freedom of Speech of these Venezuelan fans.
Roger Prunhuber Leon
Master’s of Business Administration Class of 1984