ISDi Students and Alumni Express Solidarity with Omara Ruiz Urquiola

On the left, Omara Ruiz Urquiola, in the background industrial design students during one of the excursions planned by teachers with a university extension approach. (Facebook-Miguel Monk)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 31 July 2019 — A few hours after the announcement of her dismissal from the Design Institute of Havana, Professor Omara Ruiz Urquiola has begun to receive expressions of solidarity from students and alumni on social networks.

Some of these messages do not hesitate to criticize the decision of the school’s directors while others talk about their love for her and what an excellent teacher she is. One of them, the designer Miguel Monk, said that if the Institute fires Ruiz Urquiola, he must assume that “it will lose a jewel as a trainer of the designers of the future.”

“The ISDi student and graduate designers are telling Cuba that we love our teacher very much. We don’t care about her political position. We care that she taught us to love beauty. If there were no dismissal, what a relief, but regardless we say that she matters to us and that we are grateful to her,” Monk wrote accompanied by the #graciasomara hashtag and a poster of her silhouette, designed by Sergio Alejandro, another graduate designer of that faculty who has shown his solidarity on social networks.

Ana Regina García, another of her students, says that in the ISDi “they don’t realize what they are doing” with these decisions. “It doesn’t matter if they fired her or not. Just the fact of taking her to a ‘meeting’ to’review her contract’ seems incredible to me. And yes! #graciasomara because I was her student and I enjoyed and learned from her lectures. And I do consider that it marked my university education.”

Omara Ruiz Urquiola denounced this week on her Facebook page that, after a meeting with some managers of the institution, they had announced to her and 14 other teachers that they will no longer be able to continue working at the school. “I was fired,” she wrote on the networks after learning that she can no longer be in front of the classrooms of this university this coming year, where she has taught for several years.

With a degree in Art History from the University of Havana, Ruiz Urquiola is a specialist in the History of Industrial Design and an assistant professor at ISDi since 2009.

For his part, the director of the ISDi Sergio Peña responded hours later on his Facebook profile that the meeting “discussed transcendental aspects for the reorganization” of the institute “with a view to the next academic year” and as part “of the continuous improvement process to achieve the status of university of excellence.” Hours later he removed that post from his wall and now it can only be found on the institution’s page.

“The ISDi and our University of Havana will make available to these teachers all possible contractual options so that it does not affect their employment relationship with our entities, especially considering the real capabilities of each teacher and the suitability demonstrated in each case. This process will be effective at the beginning of the next teaching period,” explains the note without giving other details.

Milvia Pérez Pérez, dean of the Faculty of Industrial Design, was the first to comment on the institute’s post stating: “Our Institute is perfected, but has not separated, expelled or dismissed absolutely any teacher in this process.”

Speaking to Martí Noticias Urquiola says she was fired and said that “it is an expulsion for political reasons” and that she now remains “on the street” and “without pay.” She also said that they “truncated” an important part of her life, “between the artistic teaching and the teaching of Industrial Design in the ISDi I have spent many years, more than 20, my whole life has been dedicated to the academy.”

Ruiz Urquiola says that the dean “is lying” in making that statement and that she has a recording of what was said at the meeting this Monday.

 Singer Haydée Milanés also showed her support for the teacher in her social networks. On her Facebook profile, she said that “losing Omara” is “losing Cuba.”

“For a long time the Cuban Ministry of Education has recognized the deficit of teachers that exists in our country, for that reason I cannot understand this measure adopted by the ISDI managers,” said the artist. “I think it is also important to keep in mind that Professor Omara has been fighting a serious illness for several years and would be helpless in the face of a dismissal from her job.”


The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.