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Political discrimination in higher education in Cuba as a violation of the right to academic freedom 

1. Violations of the academic freedom of professors and students due to political motives​​


1. Arbitrary dismissals of researchers and professors due to political motives.​

On the 25th of April of 2016, the leadership of the Centro de Investigaciones Marinas (CIM) [Marine Research Center] of the Universidad de La Habana (UH) [University of Havana] decided to permanently remove Ariel Ruiz Urquiola from his position of researcher, alleging unjustified leave of absences. However, Urquiola submitted documentation showing that he was under medical treatment during that time period. Even when the sanctions and dismissal process of Urquiola was presented by the institute as being administrative, the political position of who was being affected was also added, even taking into account his workplace, being addressed by the authorities of the dean’s office of the UH. According to the professional evolution of the biologist, multiple repressive incidents being confirmed based on scientific results of his work, which ruined the Cuban government environmental policy, putting economic profit in crisis due to the threatened fishing resources, according to international conservation legislation.​

On the 29th of July of 2019, as reported by Cuban Culture and History of Design Professor, of the Instituto Superior de Diseño (ISDi)  [Higher Institute of Design] Omara Isabel Ruiz Urquiola, via his personal Facebook account, was dismissed for expressing his disagreement with the proposed resolution at a meeting with the dean of ISDi. Days later, the ISDi began to spread its version of events, denying what Omara had stated, with the support of favorable anonymous profiles of the Cuban government, a situation that generated several social media protests. Several weeks later, the Minister of Education, José Ramón Saborido, during his participation on a radio/television program, Mesa Redonda, provided statements regarding the Omara case, completely confirming not only the fact of the dismissal denied by ISDi, but also its ideological nature.

2. Attacks and retaliation against university professors due to political motives: historical reference.

In July of 1977, Justo Hernández, head of the Department of Philosophy of the ISCAH informed Dimas Cecilio Castellanos Martí, professor in the Instituto de Ciencias Agropecuarias de La Habana (ISCAH), [Institute of Agricultural Sciences of Havana] of his dismissal from the institute. The reason for the dismissal was supported by not having aligned with the Partido Comunista de Cuba (PCC) [Communist Party of Cuba]. The events occurred days before when he held a meeting with colleagues of higher academic hierarchy in the Department, where they ordered him not to promote a culture of intellectual confrontation within the classroom, to which Castellanos did not comply.

In 1981, Enrique Patterson, professor of Department of Philosophy at UH, was accused of being a counter-revolutionary and practicing “ideological division,” the reason for which Resolution 34 was applied to him, being definitively separated from the university. Days later, he was driven to the central headquarters of the Departamento de Seguridad del Estado (DSE) [Department of State Security], known as Villa Marista, and subjected to daily interrogations and tortures.  He tried to appeal that decision over a period of five years, yet none of his appeals received a response. Subsequently, the DSE prepared a file for endangerment, a legal term that could lead to prison, which is why he went into exile in 1992. Currently, he works as a journalist and investigator in the North American intellectual circle.

3. Practices of ideological indoctrination or intervention to the detriment of Cuban universities


3.1. “El Ché” Guevara’s speech, 17th of August of 1959, that threatened collegiate autonomy and the right to academic freedom

In 1959, on the 17th of August, Ernesto, “El Ché” Guevara, gave a speech in the city of Santiago de Cuba. The speech focused on the importance of the university within the revolutionary process, proposing that Cuban universities must answer to the interests of the State and aid the socialist development within the country.  However, such proposal infringes upon the concept of collegiate autonomy, held as a right within the 13 articles of the PIDESC, 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as in the general Observation N° 13 of the CESCR of the UN, article 13 of the San Salvador Protocol and article XII of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man.​

At the same time, he made reference to the political participation, describing students’ will to associate as dangerous when “they have forgotten their revolutionary duties” and do not support, in one way or another, the revolutionary struggle. This position contradicts articles: 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 25 of the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, XX of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, and 23 of the Pact of San Jose


3. 2.   Agreement Nº 8625 of the Council of Ministers, September 5 of 2019, that violates the right to free thought.

On September 5, 2019, Agreement of the Council of Ministers No. 8625 was published in the Official Gazette No. 65 of the Republic of Cuba, which established in article 6, that: “The presidents of universities and deans of science, technology and innovation, prioritize and authorize access to master's degrees and doctorates for recent graduates incorporated into teaching, scientific, innovation and artistic creation activities and others who, due to special state interest, require it and for this they also take into account the need to excel, the following requirements: (…) c) demonstrated political-ideological qualities,” a situation that violates the right to Freedom of Thought, Conscience, Worship or Religion enshrined in articles 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 18 of the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 13 of the Pact of San José and IV of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man.


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