Congolese Students Who Protested in Havana Apologize

African students banded together on social media under the heading “I Won’t Go Home without My Diploma”

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, April 12, 2019 — Congolese students who staged a protest this week in Havana have apologized to Cuba in a statement posted on Facebook on Thursday. The declaration comes a few days after a major clampdown on the protesters by the island’s police and military.

The African students joined together on the social network under the heading “Je Ne Rentre Pas Sans Mon Diplome” (I Won’t Go Home without My Diploma). In the post they explained that they do not hold Cuban authorities responsible for the non-payment of their stipends. Instead, the Congolese students blame their own government for the twenty-seven month delay in payment.

“We wholeheartedly extend to the Cuban people our sincere apologies for the inconveniences and misunderstandings caused by comments and photos published on this page,” wrote the students, who were part of a peaceful protest at the Salvador Allende School of Medicine in Altahabana.

The statement, which was immediately picked up by the island’s official press, explains that the students’ motivation in calling the strike was not to criticize Cuba. The sole intention, they explained, was to “draw attention and stir the conscience of Congolese authorities.”

The students denounced their country for abandoning them “without the sligtest remorse” to the care of the Cubans. They added, “During last twenty-seven dark months we could only count on the support of Cuba and, in some cases, our families.”

Missing, however, was any mention of the repeated criticisms some of them had made about the medical school’s bad food and poor living conditions.

Cubadebate, an official online media outlet that published the Congolese students’ letter, took the opportunity to attack what it considered to be a “political manipulation” of the issue.

Though initially there was no reporting on the student protest in front of the embassy of the Democratic Republic of Congo in Havana, the news site claimed the incident on the university campus last Monday was twisted to “damage the image of the Revolution.”

“It is difficult for us to watch our words being taken out of their initial and true context by some people to serve selfish and defamatory ambitions against the Cuban people,” the students wrote in their letter.

Videos were posted that same Monday afternoon showing uniformed officers from the National Revolutionary Police as well as from other special units barging into the medical school to restore order. In a brief statement explaining what happened, the Ministry of Public Health said it would not tolerate such “lack of discipline.”

In their letter on Thursday the Congolese students noted they were seeking to “restore the truth and dispel any misunderstanding.” They added, “We say to the enemies of Cuba who distort our words, ’We are never going to be the weapon you use to destroy this beautiful country.’”

They went on to say, “Since our arrival on the island Cuban authorities, whenever possible, have put at our disposal whatever they had… We are not the the enemies of the Cuban people. On the contrary. We are and always will be their most faithful allies.” They added, “Just as we have risen up to defend our rights, so will we, whenever necessary, do the same to defend the honor and reputation of the Cuban people.


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