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Posted September 05, 2009 by publisher in Cuba Human Rights

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The Cuban government has denied exit permits to about 30 Cuban college students who had been offered U.S. government-funded scholarships for academic programs at American academic institutions.

Not only did the students lose the chance to attend classes for free in the United States, but some were accused of ideologically losing their way and were expelled from their colleges in Cuba. Those who were members of the Communist Youth Union were booted out, several students said.

``I’ve been told that I have been expelled from the university and that I have a hearing pending with the Communist Youth, where I am to receive a temporary sanction due to the fact that, in self-criticism, I acknowledged having applied for the scholarship,’’ wrote a student selected for a leadership program in the United States.

The student, who asked to remain anonymous, said there is deep frustration among the selected students.

``Our state of mind couldn’t be worse. We feel unprotected. Nobody will defend us nor challenge the Cuban government to claim our right to exercise the option any university student in the world has,’’ the young woman said from Havana.


This was the first year that Cuban students were included in the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs program, which provides scholarships for students throughout the world to attend American universities.

When word of the scholarships got out in Cuba, the U.S. Interests Section in Havana was deluged with more 750 applications.

``We were disappointed in the government of Cuba not allowing Cuban students to participate in our education programs,’’ a U.S. State Department official said, who requested anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the incident. ``We had gotten the word out about the programs through pamphlets and word of mouth . . . and the candidates were selected based on merit. When we tried to explain that, they said, `No, we don’t know who these kids are, and so we’re saying no to all of them.

``It was a real opportunity to try something different. It was a missed opportunity.’‘

Bisa Williams, acting deputy assistant secretary of state for western hemisphere affairs, said it was an unfortunate turn of events.

``It would be unfortunate if students suffered retaliation simply for seeking to take advantage of educational exchange opportunities,’’ she said.

The U.S. State Department noted, however, that the Cuban government did not rule out participation in the future.

The students could have attended a one-year community college program in fields such as agricultural science, business management, information technology, communications and journalism. The program also includes a summer course on public leadership.

The universities were located in Arizona, Tennessee and Idaho, but none in Florida.

Seventeen were selected for the first program and 11 for the second one.

But Cuban authorities denied their visa requests to travel to the United States and began an evaluation program at their university centers.


A few months ago, officials from the Cuban Ministry of Higher Education, members of the Communist Party and leaders of the Communist Youth Union opened an evaluation process as part of ``restructuring the political-ideological work’’ at higher education institutions.

Among the evaluation-session topics: ``the courageous ideological combat’’ among students, such as applying for U.S. scholarships.

``A sample of the actions taken by the current U.S. administration in its efforts to ideologically permeate university students is to offer them scholarships through the Interests Section to train them in the area of leadership,’’ reads an internal document of the Ministry of Higher Education obtained by El Nuevo Herald.

``Applying for such scholarships reveals, at least, an unacceptable ideological inconsistency. More serious yet is the case of students selected by the Interests Section who upheld their decisions even after a political discussion with them.’‘

The document, released in July, acknowledges that students and professors longed ``to obtain personal benefits’’ and suffered ``a confusion and poor understanding of the basic pillars that sustain the ideology of our revolution.’‘

Sources in Cuba said the shift followed a shake-up at the Ministry of Education, and the replacement of minister Juan Vela Valdés.

``We are involved in a new process of control and ideological purges that resembles the worst moments and stages of the past,’’ said a University of Havana professor who spoke with El Nuevo Herald on the condition of not revealing his name for fear of retaliation. The Cuban government rejection comes at a moment in which the Obama Administration has encouraged cultural and academic exchanges with the island. The Cuban government, U.S. officials acknowledge, has done little in return.

The Cuban Interests Section in Washington did not respond to an El Nuevo Herald message on the topic.

  1. Follow up post #1 added on September 06, 2009 by BERNIE

    Where has the the state department been for the past 50 years???
    These idiots expect to be looked upon as being generous to a select few in
    Cuba. could only mean that they would exploit this gesture as a negative propaganda ploy, which is exactly what this article is??????
      How many other countries have they offered this too??????

  2. Follow up post #2 added on September 07, 2009 by Yeyo with 411 total posts

    Amazing!, the Cuban Government brings youths from all Latin America and even from the United States to “study” and be brainwashed in Cuba but denies the right to their own citizens to study wherever they want.
    Another proof of the daily violations of human rights in Cuba. 

    I’m very sorry for the Cuban students that very bravely applied, were accepted and are not being retaliated by this absurd and decrepit regime.

  3. Follow up post #3 added on September 07, 2009 by john

    Appears the Cuban government is approaching a state of panic and fear.
    Students not permitted to study in USA as most would not return to Cuba.
    Reports of police brutality and dissident targeting are escalating.
    Even members of the Church receiving threatening phone calls and told to distance themselves from anti government speech/activities.
    I wonder if there are any cases of rebellion within the police/government?
    Of course, we shall not hear of this, eh Fidel?

  4. Follow up post #4 added on September 28, 2009 by Javania

    There is a crime of what was good for me isn’t good for you. If memory serves me right didn’t Fidel Castro, receive a higher education in the U.S.?  Free thinkers are a threat to Communism, even though it spouts equality, they contradict themselves.  As in all dictatorships it serves them well to isolate their people to limit their access to information and other people. Suffocating the people, eventually the people will strongly retaliate.  I think that is wrong that they added insult to injury by rejecting these applicants from even their institiutions, to make an example of them.  All they are doing is fueling seeds of descent and bitterness, with their bright young intelligencia. 
    To me communism is just repeating the mistakes of what they tried to break free from.

  5. Follow up post #5 added on September 28, 2009 by Alberto N Jones

    This is just a bare face political ploy geared at students, some of whom I spoke with in Cuba and who do not have a clue what US-AID objectives and purposes are all about.  Similar action took place in 1962, when 14,000 upper class, mostly white teenagers were lured out of Cuba through mass scare tactics, suggesting parents would loose their parental rights,  through the now infamous Peter Pan/Catholic Church mass kidnapping.  Most students were separated from their parents for 5-6 years, some never got reunited.  Many were physically, mentally and sexually abused, as they are now writing about their horrendous life experience, for which no one was sent to jail or no Amber alert was ever posted.  If these individuals pushing these selective scholarship to Cuba, who were left shedding crocodile tears were really interested in uplifting the educational level of the world, how about offering them to Honduras, Belize, Haiti, Phillipines, Afghanistan, Liberia, Puerto Rico or Chicago, where hundreds are dying violently every year?

    Is this the best the US State Department could come up with 50 years after Monsignor Bryan Walsh and his CIA Operatives revolting actions ?

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