Message to the minister of higher education

por Harold Cardenas Lema

Yesterday you appeared in the Mesa Redonda program at a time when your Ministry of Higher Education is the target of strong accusations of discrimination as a result of a text published by your deputy minister. There, you simplified the criticism by using the example of a professor with ties to the opposition, while you said nothing about professors with a distinguished revolutionary track record who have also been removed from their positions. It’s regrettable that you try to pass all those who have been ousted from the lesson halls off as members of the opposition, when you know that’s not the case.

You manipulated information, handpicking convenient examples to show to the people and articles to mention from the Constitution, when a few others would easily demonstrate your violation of the Rule of Socialist Law. Abuse of power, like in the case of professor René Fidel González at the University of Oriente, a party member expelled by the current deputy minister, does a lot more harm than an external campaign. How can it be explained that a defender of socialism be expelled too? It’s impossible. Better to focus on the enemy and silence internal contradictions.

Undoubtedly, your presence on television was supported from above. I reject the counterproductive stance of a high official who insists on maintaining outdated discourses and practices instead of listening to the criticism of the people, or who ignores that criticism because the opposition tries to use the issue to further its agenda. In politics, such inflexibility has a very high price that’s paid silently.

That a civil servant may call a person ‘mercenary’ in the absence of any legal process whatsoever and get away with it is an example of the fragility of the institutions and of a rule of law which is applied selectively. I do not share the opposition’s agenda, nobody in my family has, and I won’t be the first one, but I can’t stay silent when they go after the rights of others, whether an opposition-minded professor in Havana, a revolutionary in Santiago or an anarchist on the Moon. Rights are not negotiated.

Go and explain to René Fidel’s baby daughter why her father doesn’t have a job since she was born. Explain why you signed that expulsion in support of the current deputy minister’s personal grudge against the professor. Go after those students who today risk losing their courses or their jobs by signing a letter of support standing up against what they consider an injustice. Wasn’t that what they were taught was decent and correct?

Cuba has limitations imposed by external conditions, and some others brought about by domestic dynamics which the President has termed ‘internal blockade’ in the Mesa Redonda program. It is often difficult to tell one from the other, but it is clear enough here.

If there’s a real commitment to the rule of law and civil liberties in a socialist model, it should be clarified whether the proposed paradigm for what a university professor should be like is a result of external siege in a specific juncture (yes, I know), or the model being proposed by the Government and the Party in Cuba for the future.

I would like to finish by being explicit in my rejection for any form of workplace or educational discrimination on the basis of political preferences. If a revolution was made in Cuba by promising to eliminate the privileges of the few who could gain access to university, it is tragic that 60 years on there be ministers justifying exclusions with the support of the Government and the Party.

A revolution should be better than the system that precedes it, or it isn’t. In that case, it’s a whole different conversation.

(Translated from the original)