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Irina Echarry: I enjoy reading, going to the movies and spending time with my friends. Many of the people I love are dead, or are no longer in Cuba. I will do my best to transmit my thoughts, ideas or worries via these pages so you can get to know me. I will give an idea of my age, since it helps explain certain things. I’m over thirty-five, and I think that’s enough information. I don’t have any children yet, or nieces or nephews. There are days when I transform myself into a child with no age at all in order to see life from another angle. It helps me break the monotony and survive in this strange world.

Support for Karla and Others Punished for Expressing Their Views

April 18, 2017 |

Irina Echarry

Karla Maria Perez, the latest victim.

HAVANA TIMES — We are at a critical juncture in history, the world is living through uneasy times as the result of cocky threats by presidents in some countries and bombs which Trump throws around as if they were birthday confetti.

In Cuba, which many people consider a calm place where they would like to live if it weren’t for the depressed economy, we don’t escape serious problems either. Yes, it is more peaceful here than in other places, of course, because we aren’t in a region exposed to war. However, there are so many situations which should worry us and take up our time, as they not only have a negative impact on the country’s present but in its future too.

In spite of the fact that the Cuban Constitution making it clear in its 6th chapter about Equality, that: The State establishes the right, won by the Revolution, of its citizens, without distinction based on race, color, sex, religious creeds, national origin, or any other type offending human dignity, to have a right to education at all national educational institutions, ranging from elementary schools to the universities, which are the same for all.

In spite of the fact that universities in any country should be free spaces for thought, debates, discussions, the foundation where the worm of criticism grows not only with regard to political and social problems, but personal criticism too, which benefits us in so many ways.

In spite of the fact that the majority of Cuban young people are increasingly becoming more disinterested, ignorant to the political conflicts that take place in the world and especially those which develop in Cuba; in a comfortable frenzy with the invasion of brands, reggaeton and non-political Art.

In spite of all of this, it has happened again, this time in the figure of Karla Maria; this young 18 year old girl has been kicked out of the Universidad Central Marta Abreu, in Villa Clara, accused of belonging to a counter-revolutionary and illegal organization.

I have heard of similar stories of young people who have been frustrated because of their intention to be sincere, critical, and to think for themselves. The saddest thing of all is when students or work colleagues – which up until yesterday you used to share lunch, coffee, jokes, and sometimes even ideas- stop being acquaintances and become accomplices of the Power.

Reading the University Students Federation’s statement which supported the expulsion, I was overcome with horror at the thought that in this day and age, some young person could create such a statement. It’s completely opportunist and discriminatory. Universities have to be open to each and every citizen of its country. I’m sure that there are many students asking themselves why something like this has happened, but it’s difficult for them to manifest their curiosity publicly, as they can see the price you pay.

These things don’t happen by chance in Cuba, it’s not about a group of mistaken officials. If this were the case, those who have been committing mistakes and atrocities would have already been punished. It’s the result of a policy applied in society, in education and workplaces, in neighborhoods and even in our private lives, where a way of seeing the world previals which rejects the “Other”. Even when we all run the risk of being this “Other”.

All of my support goes to Karla and every other person who has suffered the blunders of those in power at the time and the complicity of those who don’t estimate how powerful they can become. Some day, we will regret not having done anything to change the way things are; I hope it’s not too late.

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  • Moses Patterson

    So much for free speech in Cuba. It would be a hoot if someone from the pro-Castro dictatorship camp would offer a comment supporting the regime’s decision to expel this student for disagreeing. Instead of HT contributor Elio Delgado waxing poetic about events in Cuba that took place 60 years ago, I would like to see him weigh in on this topic. But alas, socialists are cowards.

  • Jay Jardin

    It is hypocritical at best to attend a school for free that is financed by socialist means if you claim to be a capitalist in any way. Cuba should allow private institutions so students like this one have a forum to express themselves among other self financed peers.

    • Moses Patterson

      With income withholding by the Castro dictatorship exceeding 95% of salaries in Cuba, education in Cuba is far from “free”.

      • Jay Jardin

        Oh please, go make up facts somewhere else. If this was remotely true Cuba would be flooded with homeless people instead of real homeowners. This reminds me, go pay your rent.

        • Moses Patterson

          What I wrote is a fact. I would include a link to a study that generated this number but I am too lazy to make the effort to refute such an uninformed comment. It’s a UN study that lists all countries in the world by tax rate percentage. By the way, I have a mortgage and it’s paid on the 5th of the month, but thanks for the reminder.

  • Jay Jardin

    A private school is attended by paying customers (capitalism). A public school is payed by tax payers money (socialism). Governments make plenty of money through capitalist investments/transactions. The act of paying taxes doesn’t mean you are entitled to every government service, a peasant is very unlikely to able to pay for college and university without the financial contributions of hundreds of others (socialism). I pay plenty of taxes and I am not allowed free school. Your salary anecdote in no way reflects that they are home owners that do not pay 50-70% of their income to a landlord or any other kind of feudal lord in exchange for a temporary residence. I am a big fan of practice what you preach, that is why I make a living though my business so I can call myself a capitalist. However a very small percentage of people is able to live without being proletarians/working class. In the US that small percentage of capitalists is 10%. The rest are proles.

    Source: http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2015/apr/13/rick-santorum/90-american-workers-dont-own-their-own-business-ri/

  • Jay Jardin

    Again, paying taxes does not in any way mean that you are actually paying for the service, it means you are contributing to it. The difference between paying for medical school and attending medical schools is easily a quarter million dollars and only the elite have access to that kind of money. Thanks for arriving to my original point. “Cuba should allow private institutions so students like this one have a forum to express themselves among other self financed peers.” What I meant to say here is that anti-socialists should be allowed to attend what we call “private” schools while still paying tax just like in capitalist countries.