Journalism Student Expelled from University For “Political Reasons”

The 18-year-old journalism student, Karla Pérez González, was expelled Wednesday from Marta Abreu University of Santa Clara for “political reasons”. (Courtesy)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 13 April 2017 — Karla Pérez González was not summoned to the meeting where her future was decided. The first-year Journalism student received a telephone call on Wednesday to notify her of her expulsion from Marta Abreu University in Santa Clara. Her crime? Having contacts with the Somos+ (We Are More) Movement and publishing on digital sites critical of the government, as confirmed by the young woman herself speaking to 14ymedio.

On March 15, Perez Gonzalez was excluded from a student assembly where a video was projected to discredit the independent Somos+ Movement led by activist Eliécer Ávila. “I only found out several days later because they warned my classmates not to tell me anything,” she says.

On April 10 the situation worsened when the militants of the department’s Union of Communist Youth (UJC) met to present “the evidence” against her, she explains. “Members and leaders of the organization warned that those who were on my side would be investigated. Nor was I not invited to participate.”

On Tuesday, the 18-year-old scientist was summoned along with her parents to the Department of Humanities. “I arrived at 8:30 in the morning and the group of decision-makers were 14 freshmen, 4 professors in the department and 6 members of the management of different organizations, in addition to the dean, Osneidy Leon Bermudez,” she details.

“There were three hours of psychological abuse and they made false charges against me”

The brigade chief of the University Student Federation (FEU), Ney Cruz, proposed the expulsion of Gonzalez from the University. “There were three hours of psychological abuse and they made false charges against me, ranging from recruiting members at the school, to belonging to the leadership of Somos+.”

“I was also accused of manipulating my friends and having a strategy from the beginning of the course to subvert the young, according to leanings of the Somos+ Movement.” The student was also questioned about her relationship with digital sites critical of the Government.

The first secretary of the UJC, Hermes Germán Aguilera Pérez, stood out among “the most violent,” recalls Pérez González. “He used phrases intended to influence the vote” of the students. He told the students that they had the opportunity to demonstrate that they were Revolutionaries because this moment was “your Moncada, Sierra Maestra, Bay of Pigs.” “She is with the enemy,” he spit out during the meeting.

Eight students voted for the expulsion of Pérez González, while six supported her continuing in the department. “Those were the people who really knew my story and who defended me in that hell,” she says.

Later, Perez González appeared before a Disciplinary Commission that inquired about her “projections, actions, membership in organizations and pages in which she published.” The young woman was even asked how much she paid for a rental house in Santa Clara.

“It was a very cordial and respectful meeting [compared to] the string of abuses I had been subjected to,” Karla recalls.

González denounces the political and non-academic motivations for her expulsion; she ended last semester with the maximum score in all subjects except in computer science and also obtained an English certificate that exempted her from attending those classes during her entire program.

The young woman does not plan to make a complaint through university mechanisms, but will “write a letter to the Minister of Education and will denounce what happened to organizations that watch over human rights,” she confirmed to 14ymedio.

The expulsion of Karla Pérez González joins a series of repressive actions against the Somos + Movement in recent days

The expulsion of Karla Pérez González joins a series of repressive actions against the Somos+ Movement in recent days. Last Thursday the General Customs of the Republic confiscated Eliécer Ávila’s laptop computer, which provoked a protest of several members of the organization in Terminal 3 of the José Martí International Airport.

Avila was arrested on Saturday and police searched his home where they seized “hundreds of things from pens, clothes, business cards, books, phone chargers, cables, mirrors, everything they found,” the leader told 14ymedio. Since the raid, he is now being prosecuted for crimes of illicit economic activity and “receiving” unauthorized goods.

This same week the philologist Dalila Rodríguez González, who had worked as a professor for over ten years, was expelled from Marta Abreu University. The academic told the independent press that her departure was due to the university authorities considering her “a bad influence on the students,” in addition to the security forces linking her to her father, Leonardo Rodríguez Alonso, a defender of human rights and an opponent of the government.

Rodríguez González also denounced that she has been harassed by State Security in recent months and clarified that she does not belong to any opposition group and does not participate in activities organized by activists or dissidents.

Last February, a young student of 24, David Mauri Cardoso, was not allowed to enroll in the law school of Carlos Rafael Rodríguez Provincial University, in Cienfuegos, for expressing ideas “against the Revolutionary Process” in a Spanish exam.