EXECUTIVE SUMMARY NO.5

Interventionist and violation policy against academic freedom and university autonomy in Cuba  

The Global Observatory on Academic Freedom (GOAF) has documented multiple cases of censure and aggression toward university autonomy within the Cuban higher education environment, as a policy implemented by the State to the detriment of the academic community of the country, which would contradict international norms of human rights1.

 

This report presents some concerns about various speeches and regulations made during the 1960s, from which the legal and narrative scaffolding of persecution and harassment was built against those who do not share the “revolutionary” ideals. Along with these, actions were taken against university professors, students and workers for ideological and political reasons, which violate the right to academic freedom and other rights of university students.

The report presents a record in which these incidents are graphically related according to the violated rights, the years of record and the higher education institutions where they occurred. Depending on the type of incident that occurred, the following results were obtained:

Chart 1. Incidents by type

Informe No. 5 OLA
Chart 3.PNG

Source: Defenders Data Base (2020)

Speech by Fidel Castro Ruiz, Castro Ruz, Prime Minister of the Revolutionary Government, September 28, 1960, where he threatens political pluralism and academic freedom

On September 28, 1960, Fidel Castro, then Prime Minister of the Revolutionary Government, delivered a speech upon his return from the United Nations. In his speech, ideological slogans abounded that would encourage hundreds of Cubans to unite around the defense of revolutionary ideals. In turn, his words laid the foundations for the founding of the Comités de Defensa de la Revolución (CDR) [Committees for the Defense of the Revolution], organization of the masses that would aim to mobilize the Cuban people in vigilance groups in order to protect the Revolution from external threats (mainly from the United States), as well as internal ones (Cuban citizens who did not support Castro's revolutionary principles, and who would end up being singled out and accused of being "counterrevolutionaries"). These Committees served as an excuse to expel university professors and persecute academics, nullifying any possibility of political and ideological pluralism, within the framework of constant vigilance on citizenship and interference of the privacy of Cubans, an act that would imply violations of the law against honor and privacy rights.2

Curtailment of university autonomy held within the Ley de Nacionalización General y Gratuita de la Enseñanza [Law of General and Free Nationalization of Education] of 6 of June of 1961

As discussed in the October and December 2020 reports, the 1960s marked the beginning of the creation of the reform of higher education in Cuba, as well as the elimination of autonomy in the higher education institutes in the country.

This report analyzes the Law of General and Free Nationalization of Education of June 6, 1961, in terms of which ones were implemented in favor of the Cuban State “all the teaching centers that, upon the promulgation of this Law, are operated by private individuals or legal entities, as well as all the assets, rights and actions that make up the assets of the aforementioned centers,” completely nationalizing the country's education. This process took place within the framework of a marked ideological and political differentiation of social classes in which the private education spaces that influenced an intellectual, moral and political formation of the students opposed to the principles of the government, were branded as "counterrevolutionary."

 

Said regulation violates the rights to academic freedom and university autonomy, since it attributes absolute power to the Cuban government to regulate and provide education in the country, charging it with political and ideological biases. Similarly, it has a negative impact on the right to freedom of thought, conscience, worship or religion3, by eliminating educational centers that were run by some type of religious community.

1. Violations against academic freedom and other human rights of university professors and students. Historic Cases (1959 – 2010)

 

1.1 Pedro Pablo Arencibia Cardoso, professor of the Department of Computing of the Instituto Superior Pedagógico de Pinar del Río, “Rafael María de Mendive” [Highter Institute of Pedagogy of Pinar del Río, “Rafael María de Mendive”]

At the end of 1996, Pedro Pablo Arencibia  was reprimanded during an informal meeting by Head of the Computing Department of the Instituto Superior Pedagógico de Pinar del Río, Jesús Miranda Izquierdo and the representative of the Communist Youth Union and the Communist Party of the School, Luis Pampillo Donate. The motive for the reprimand was motivated due to the posture of a debate about the role of the United States during the Cuban war of independence conflict, which took place within the framework of the Professorship of the School of Exact Sciences and Techniques of the university. After having been subjected to persecution from the Disciplinary Commission in January of 1997, Arencibia ended up definitively separated from his charge at the Institute.

Professor Arencibia has been a victim of the violation of the right to freedom of expression and opinion4; the right to freedom of thought or conscience5; the right to work6; and especially the right to academic freedom. Recognized in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (Article 13), the Universal Declaration on Human Rights  (Article 26), General Observation N° 13 of the Committee of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of the United Nations, the American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man  (Article XII), among other instruments7.

1.2. Yaxys Dallan Cires Dib, Professor of Law and Economics of the School of Social Sciences and Humanism of the University of Pinar del Río “Hermanos Saiz Montes de Oca”

On May 5, 2003, Yaxys Dallan, Professor of Law and Economics at the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanism, at the University of Pinar del Río, was informed by the Dean of the Faculty, MSc. Alina Martínez Fernández, that she could no longer continue teaching at the university due to complaints from the provincial entities of State Security in relation to his political positions. The censorship action occurred after having decided not to join the ranks of the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR), nor to attend the national electoral process, claiming lack of transparency and omission of the democratic principles in which he firmly believed.

 

As a result, Professor Cires was notified of the termination of his employment contract without due process guarantees. In addition, he was the target of smear campaigns by the Cuban government. The presented facts exposed Yaxys Dallan to different human rights violations, among those, the right to freedom of expression and opinion8, the right to freedom of thought or conscience9, the right to academic freedom10, due process11, the right to work12, also the right to not be discriminated against13, among other rights14.

2. Recent cases (2010 – 2020)

 

2.1. Norges Carlos Rodríguez Almiñán, “B” Specialist of the Department of Communications of the University of the Arts (ISA)

In 2015, Norges Rodríguez was separated from his position at the Department of Communications of the University of the Arts (ISA), presumably for “not being a graduate of the specialty of Communications”, an argument that, months ago, university directives had assured would not be a problem, since it was resolved in the Labor Code. The dismissal occurred after Rodríguez published on his personal blog “Salir a la Manigua” a post entitled “Cuban Internet a la Ginger,” in which he criticized the Cuban government's position regarding the Internet and the possibility of instituting censorship on the island, in the style of the Chinese, and a post which  questioned the then first Cuban Vice President, Miguel Díaz-Canel, for some statements he offered about internet access on the island.

This job separation, once again, shows how Cuban educational institutions use administrative issues to disguise purges when the bottom of the matter is political.

Norges Rodríguez was a victim of the violation of the right of freedom of expression and opinion15, the right to freedom of thought or conscience16, due process17,  among other rights18.

2.2. Karla María Pérez González, Journalist student at the Universidad Central “Marta Abreu” de Las Villas (UCLV)

In March of 2017 the expulsion of Karla Pérez from the University Central "Marta Abreu" de las Villas was initiated (behind her back), due to her political affiliation with the movement “Somos +,” a dissident initiative which was disqualified and persecuted by the Cuban government, defining it as a subversive and counterrevolutionary project financed by the United States. This act of censorship was discussed between the directors of the University and the members of the Union of Young Communists (UJC), and was based on affiliation to the Somos + organization, as well as their blog posts.

 

On April 13 of the same year, Resolution of the Dean No. 262/17 was issued, providing for the “Expulsion from Higher Education” of Karla Pérez, as a proposal arising from the student group that was transferred and ratified by the Disciplinary Commission appointed by the Dean, following the provisions of the Disciplinary Regulations for Higher Education Students. Similarly, Pérez was defamed by the university in response to the solidarity shown by the independent Cuban press and foreign media towards her.

Other regional institutions supported her and she was able to attend her education in journalism at the Universidad Latina de Costa Rica, graduating in 2020.

 

Karla Pérez was a victim of the violation of distinct human rights, among those, the right of freedom of expression and opinion19, the right to freedom of thought or conscience20, due process22,  as well as the right to not be discriminated against23, among others.24

1 Cuba forms part of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, its two optional protocols, and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. In addition, Cuba has ratified the ILO Conventions on: Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize (No. 87, 1948), Application of the Principles of the Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining (No. 98, 1949), Equal Remuneration for Men and Women Performing Jobs of Equal Value (No. 100, 1951), Discrimination with respect to Employment and Occupation (No. 111, 1958) and Employment Policy (No. 122). The Cuban State has neither ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, even when it was signed on the 28th of February of 2008, nor that of the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Cuba also participated in the approval of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man (1948), and did ratify, on the 16th of July of 1952, the Charter of the Organization of American States.

2 Consecrated in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights article 17, The Universal Declaration on Human Rights, article 12, American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man, article V and the Pact of San José, article 11. Unfortunately, the American Convenant on Human Rights (Pact of San José) has not been ratified by the Cuban State.

3 Consegrated in the The Universal Declaration on Human Rights,article 18, Covenant of Civil and Political Rights, article 18, the Pact of San José, article 13, and the American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man, article IV. Unfortunately, the International Convenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Pact of San José have not been ratified by the Cuban State.

4 Recognized in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Article 19), The Universal Declaration on Human Rights  (Article 19), the American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man  (Article IV), the American Convención on Human Rights (Pact of San José) (Article 13).

 

5  Recognized in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (Article 18), International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Article 18).

 

6 International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (Article 7), the Universal Declaration on Human Rights  (Article 23), the American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man (Article XIV) and the American Convention on Human Rights, in terms of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (Protocol of San Salvador (Article 7).

 

7 It’s necessary to point out that the International Covenants on Economic Social and Cultural Rights, and the Civil and Political Rights of 1966 have not been ratified by the Cuban State. However, given that it was signed in February of 2008, it’s important it be mentioned in the present report. Unfortunately, neither the American Convention on Human Rights nor the American Convention on Human Rights, in terms of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (Protocol of San Salvador, 1988), have been ratified by the Cuban State.

8 Recognized in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Article 19), the Universal Declaration on Human Rights  (Article 19), the American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man (Article IV) and in the American Convention of Human Rights (Pact of San José) (Article 13).

 

9  Recognized in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (Article 18) and in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Article 18).

 

10 Recognized in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (article 13), the Universal Declaration on Human Rights  (Article 26),  General Observation N° 13 of the Committee of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of the United Nations, the American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man  (Article XII), among other instruments.

 

11 Recognized in the article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

12 Recognized in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (Article 7), the Universal Declaration on Human Rights  (Article 23), the American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man (Article XIV) and the American Convention on Human Rights, in terms of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

(Protocol of San Salvador, 1988) (Article 7).

 

13 Recognized in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights  (Article 2).

 

14 It’s necessary to point out that the International Covenants on Economic Social and Cultural Rights, and the Civil and Political Rights of 1966 have not been ratified by the Cuban State. However, given that it was signed in February of 2008, it’s important it be mentioned in the present report. Unfortunately, neither the American Convention on Human Rights nor the American Convention on Human Rights, in terms of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (Protocol of San Salvador, 1988), have been ratified by the Cuban State.

15 Recognized in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Article 19), the Universal Declaration on Human Rights  (Article 19), the American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man (Article IV), the American Convention of Human Rights (Pact of San José) (Article 13).

 

16 Recognized in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights  (Article 18) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Article 18).

 

17 Recognized in article 14 of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

 

18  The International Covenants on Economic Social and Cultural Rights, and the Civil and Political Rights of 1966 have not been ratified by the Cuban State, neither has the American Convention on Human Rights.  

19 Recognized in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Article 19), the Universal Declaration on Human Rights  (Article 19), the American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man (Article IV), the American Convenant on Human Rights (Pact of San José)  (Article 13).

 

20 Recognized in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights  (Article 18) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Article 18).

 

21 Recognized in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (Article 13), the Universal Declaration on Human Rights  (Article 26), the General Observation N° 13 of the Committee of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of the United Nations, the American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man  (Article XII), among other instruments

 

22 Recognized in the article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

 

23 Recognized in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights  (Article 2).

 

24  TheInternational Covenants on Economic Social and Cultural Rights, and the Civil and Political Rights of 1966 have not been ratified by the Cuban State, neither has the American Convention on Human Rights.