A Political Science Student Fights for Colombians’ Citizenship Rights

March 6, 2023

Andrés Besserer Rayas talks about his work on a human rights case in Colombia, on The Thought Project podcast.

Anres Besserer-Rayas, a dark-haired, medium-skinned man with facial hair and glasses, is pictured looking straight at the camera

Andrés Besserer Rayas, a Political Science  Ph.D. student at the CUNY Graduate Center, was conducting field work in Colombia last year for his dissertation on immigration policies when he learned about a human rights issue that appalled him. More than 40,000 Colombian citizens had been stripped of their citizenship without warning. Besserer realized that the research skills he had developed in his Ph.D. program could benefit the lawyers working on the case, and he offered to help.

The Colombians who lost their citizenship had been living abroad in Venezuela. When oil prices plummeted and the Venezuelan economy went into freefall in the beginning of the 2010s, they were among the roughly 1 million Colombians who fled to their homeland. But recently, without warning, the Colombian government has revoked their citizenship and stripped them of the national identity cards they need to hold a job, access bank accounts, get on a plane, vote, and more.  

Besserer joined The Thought Project in late February to talk about the case, what the victims’ lives have been like, why he is fighting for their rights, and what he has learned in the process.

Listen in to this timely conversation.

CUNY Graduate Center · A Political Science Student Fights for Colombians’ Citizenship Rights

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