EXECUTIVE SUMMARY NO.6

Violation to academic freedom and political discrimination
in the Cuban system of higher education.

The Global Observatory on Academic Freedom (GOAFhas documented a multiple incidents of violations against academic freedom and university autonomy within the framework of higher education in Cuba. These cases are a result of politics implemented by the Cuban State to the detriment to the academic community of the country, which would contradict international norms of human rights.1

 

This report presents some concerns about two speeches made by Fidel Castro Ruz, Prime Minister of the Revolutionary Government, which threaten academic freedom and other related rights, as well as the Disciplinary regulations for students of higher education, Resolution No. 240 of 2007, which provides sanctions for those who do not show empathy with the socialist ideology of the Cuban Government.

 

Likewise, the stories of some university professors and students who are discriminated against and persecuted for political-ideological reasons are recounted, a situation that violates the right to academic freedom and other rights of university students.

A record is presented that lists these incidents in a chart, according to the violated rights, the years in which the event is dated and the higher education institutions where they occurred. It is to be noted that data presented here, correspond to compilation of the first six reports in which 24 cases of expelled teachers and students are already recorded. Depending on the type of incident that occurred, the following results were obtained:

Chart 1. Incidents by type

Informe No. 6 OLA
Chart 4.PNG

Source: Defenders Data Base (2020)

In 1961, Fidel Castro Ruz, Prime Minister of the Cuban Revolutionary    Government, delivered two speeches: the first, on January 23, 1961, during the graduation ceremony for volunteer teachers; the second, on May 27, 1961, at the closing of the First Student Plenary of Young Rebels.

 

Both speeches are of great political and social relevance since they contain slogans associated with the training of teachers, as those in charge of defending the "revolutionary principles," and implementing teaching completely programmed by the regime, which will also act as a guarantor of the "communist education” for a new generation of students, responsible for prolonging the revolutionary project in the years to come.

 

Affirmations that violate the right to physical, or moral integrity2, can be drawn from the reference to the “annihiation” of those branded as counter-revolucionary, as well as the degradation of those teachers classified as such, as well as the right to freedom of thought, conscience, worship or religion3, in such a way, that the sole way of thinking within the Cuban regime is in favor of the Revolution, being inconceivable to do so outside of the revolutionary project.

Curtailment of academic freedom within the Disciplinary Regulation for Higher Education students. Resolution No. 240 of 2007

As has been previously addressed in the reports published by the GOAF, within Cuba for at least  50 years, there has been a systematic and generalized practice of retaliatory actions against hundreds of students who have not shown empathy with the regime or with the socialist ideology of the Revolution, or they have simply carried out some act that the decision-makers have considered contrary to the principles of such. This leads to them being subjected to various violations of their human rights.

 

Resolution No. 240/07 is analyzed in this report, in terms of the Disciplinary Regulation approved for students of Higher Education, and which was later published in the Gaceta Oficial de la República de Cuba and being vigorously enforced since the 3rd of January of 2008. In it, the basic aligment about behavior in high eduction institutes, as well as the procedures to follow by students, together with the description of the main disciplinary offenses.

 

The list of very serious offenses is led by a demonstration of an attitude that is contrary to the revolutionary process of the country, which shows the ideological indoctrination in Cuban universities, initiating from the act of thought, as a cause of the disciplinary processes to which students are subjected.

In turn, it provides for expulsions and systematic separations from the educational system for students who do not show empathy with the socialist ideology of the Revolutionary Government, which violates the rights of freedom of thought, conscience, culture or religion4  and academic freedom5.

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

 

1.1. María Caridad Gálvez Chiú, Professor of Finance, Accounting and Economic Law at the Instituto Superior Pedagógico de Pinar del Río “Rafael María de Mendive”

In 1999, María Caridad Gálvez Chiú applied to teach the Master’s Degree Program in Accounting and Finance at the Universidad de Pinar del Río, however, her acceptance was denied upon demanding a recommendation letter from the Asociación de Economistas de Cuba (ANEC) [Associatoin of Economists of Cuba], a trade institute where her membership was denied due to her relationahip with people and initiatives on the margin of offical politics.

 

During the entire time of exercising her professorship, harassment was ongoing by the authorities of the Ministry of Education (MINED) and the higher education centers with which she was associated. In 2011, then teaching at the Instituto Superior Pedagogico de Pinar del Rio “Rafael Maria de Mendive,” Karina taught the Master’s Degree of Pedagogical Sciences. After having attended two conferences, the head of the program communicated to her that she should abandon it due to an overload of students. However, in the following months, other professors taught that postgraduate course, without any difficulty.

In 2012 she abandons academics and continues in social activism as an expert of economic subjects until the governmental repression deprived her of her properties of residence, and later in 2017, she was charged with a supposed crime of “tax evasion” and sentenced to three years of deprivation of liberty. Gálvez was forced to emigrate in 2019.

 

María Caridad Gálvez has been a victim of the violation of the freedom of expression and opinion6, the right to freedom of thought or conscience7, the right to not be discriminated against, 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), the General Observation N° 13 of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of the United Nations, the American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man (article XII), among other instruments8.

 

1.2. Néstor Pérez González, second-year Law student at the Universidad de Pinar del Río “Hermanos Saíz Montes de Oca”

On the 7th of March of 2008, Néstor Pérez González, second-year student of Law at the Universidad de Pinar del Río “Hermanos Saíz Montes de Oca,” was separated from his major due to a process where he was not allowed the necessary guarantees. The reasons were “altercations to the order in class,” and “lack of respect toward a professor.” Then his Constitutional Law professor, Orestes Rodríguez Musa, lodged a complaint with the dean School of Social Sciences and Humanism. The professor’s argument was based upon Nestor having stated his critieria with respect to the need to recognize political parties, as well as the validity of Proyecto Varela as an expression of the desire for social change of the Cuban people.

 

Despite the fact that Pérez González exercised legal resources  contemplated to attack such a decision, he was politically judged by the academic authorities of the University of Pinar del Río given his participation in the magazine Convivencia, a civil society project outside the ruling party and based on the social doctrine of the Catholic Church. The student was a victim of various human rights violations,among those being the freedom of expression and opinion9, the right to freedom of thought or conscience10, the right to academic freedom11, due process12, the right not to be discriminated against13, among other rights14.

2. Recent cases (2010 – 2020)

2.1. Anamely Ramos González, Professor at the Universidad de las Artes (ISA)

Anamely Ramos, a professor at the University of the Arts (ISA), was cited several times by the university authorities because of her critical attitude towards the country's problems and the cultural policies applied by the regime and, in July 2019, was expelled from ISA. Due to this, Ramos became more involved in human rights activism, which caused her to be the victim of illegal house arrest, acts of repudiation, detentions and interrogations. Likewise, on several occasions she was publicly defamed, accused of being a mercenary and without the right to contest.

 

The stated facts exposed Ramos González to distinct violations of human rights, among those being the right to freedom of thought and opinion15, the right to freedom of thought or conscience16, the right to work17, due process18, academic freedom19, among other rights20.

2.2. Omar Everleny Pérez Villanueva,  Professor and Director of the Centro de Estudios de la Economía Cubana (CEEC) of the Universidad de Habana

Pérez Villanueva stood out due to his participation as an author and specialist invited by Cuban publications which are not under direct State control, such as Espacio Laical and Cuba Posible. The latter, together with his criticism of the slowness of the transformations within the Cuban economic model, was the cause for him to be targeted by ideological censorship, despite his broad professional merits. On January 25, 2013, Omar Everleny Pérez Villanueva was dismissed as director of the CEEC, a position he had held since May 9, 2011. On April 8, 2016, he was definitively separated from the CEEC, an event that had wide repercussions on the independent Cuban and international press.

 

In summary, Pérez Villanueva was  a  victim of the violation of diverse human rights, such as the freedom of expression and opinion21, the right to freedom of thought or conscience22, the right to academic freedom23, the right to work24, among other rights25.

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 Contained within the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, article 1, the Pact of San José, article 5 and the American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man, article I.

 

3  Consecrated in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, article 18, the International Covenant on 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.

4 Consecrated Universal Declaration on Human Rights, article 18 the International Covenant on 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.

 

5 Contained within 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 on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of the United Nations, Protocol of San Salvador, article 13, and the American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man, article XII.

6 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 on Human Rights (Pact of San José article 13).

 

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

 

8 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.

9 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 on Human Rights (Pact of San José article 13).

 

10  Recognized in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (article 18) an in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (article 18).

 

11 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 on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of the United Nations, the American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man (article XII), among other instruments.

 

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

 

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

 

14 In this report, 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, neither have the American Convention on Human Rights nor the Protocol of San Salvador  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 on 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 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 article 7).

 

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

 

19 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 on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of the United Nations, the American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man (article XII), among other instruments

 

20  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 have the American Convention on Human Rights.

21 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 on Human Rights (Pact of San José article 13).

 

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

 

23 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 on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of the United Nations, the American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man (article XII), among other instruments

 

24 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, and in terms of Economic Social and Cultural Rights (Protocol of San Salvador article 7).

 

25  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 have the American Convention on Human Rights.