14ymedio, Havana, 30 August 2019 — A group of university professors published an open letter to the Cuban Government on Thursday, in which they criticize the Vice Minister of Higher Education, Martha Mesa Valenciano, for her “open apology for discrimination” against those who do not share “the revolutionary politics” of the Communist Party.
Initially signed by 14 professionals with different scientific degrees, the document is open for signatures from all citizens who wish to express their support for the declaration. Among the names that signed the letter are the historian Rafael Rojas, the political scientist Armando Chaguaceda and the professor Omara Ruiz Urquiola recently fired from her work at the Higher Institute of Industrial Design.
The letter is a response to a text, recently published on the official website of the Ministry by the official, who is also a member of the Council of State. Under the title ’Being a University Professor’, the vice minister wrote: “He who does not feel himself to be an activist of the revolutionary politics of our Party, a defender of our ideology, of our morals, of our political convictions, must resign from being a university professor.”
“The words of the vice minister violate the newly approved Cuban Constitution. They are also inconsistent with Articles 18 and 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the World Declaration on Higher Education in the 21st Century,” the signatories of the letter answer.
The expressions of Mesa Valenciano also go against “other treaties and agreements in the educational field that recognize academic freedom and university autonomy as indispensable conditions for a quality, plural, socially committed, democratic and inclusive university,” said the signatories.
The letter states that in the face of “the increase in discriminatory and punitive measures towards professors and students for political reasons that have been experienced in recent years in Cuban universities” the Cuban Government is demanded to comply with the laws of the country, as well as with the international protocols and pacts of which it is part.
The group, composed also of doctors Alina Bárbara López, Johanna Cilano, René Fidel González and Carlos Manuel Rodríguez, seeks to avoid “an ethically impoverishing document,” like that of the vice minister, “serving as a basis for institutionalizing the commission of acts damaging to human rights.”
In Mesa Valenciano’s text, the official used a phrase from Fidel Castro, in which he defines the educator as “a revolutionary political activist” of the Communist Party and an advocate of ideology. The vice minister goes even further as she invites university professors to “resign” if they do not share this thinking.
Her statements have been heavily questioned on social networks and the Foundation for Human Rights in Cuba (FHRC), based in Miami, has added Martha Mesa Valenciano to its list of “white collar repressors.”
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