Cuban students studying in U.S. answer pro-Castro critics

Via Martí News:

Cuban students in U.S. reply to their critics

Marti’s radio program, 1800 Online spoke to the young Cuban scholars, who responded to allegations of nepotism.

Young Cuban scholarship recipients. From left to right Sahily Navarro, Henry Constantin, Haisa Fariñas and Danilo Maldonado.

Concern for their families in Cuba, hours of dedicated study to learn English, the affection from those who share their political views, and the discovery of the American society, so demonized by their own government , qualify the experience of a group of young Cubans studying for a six-month period at the Miami Dade College.

The staff from the radio show 1800 Online spoke to four of the students, Sahily Navarro, Haisa Fariñas, Danilo Maldonado, and Henry Constantin. They talk about the experiences and aspirations as members of the scholarship program Somos un solo pueblo (We are one people).

The organizers of the project emphasized that the beneficiaries from these scholarships do not necessarily have to be part of opposition groups. Nonetheless, most of them are related, in one way or another, to the opposition.

In response to the commentaries of nepotism, or the lack of plurality in the selection of scholars, Lady in White Sahily Navarro, daughter of activist Félix Navarro, says that they are a diverse group in terms of their origin of province, gender, race, and educational level.

“The 17 students are not relatives of people from the opposition, they are not even opponents,” Navarro said. She cites the cases of Alejandro Cuello and Ana del Río, among others. Sahily was expelled from the university during her second year in law school, due to her political activism.

Henry Constantin was expelled three times from different universities while he studied journalism and audiovisual communication.

Henry Constantin, who is particularly interested in the subject, says, “Neither my parents, nor my family are dissidents. The most dissident of the Constantin family is me.” He understands the concern from dissident parents with respect to the education of their children, since his 8 year-old son “is already experiencing the consequences of having a father committed to change the government of his country.”

“I can only imagine the situation of the young people who have parents, uncles, grandparents, and brothers involved with the opposition. I know that others make their lives a living hell. Even though they behave normal, they are constantly scrutinized, and they cannot access some careers paths such as journalism.”

For Danilo, “El Sexto” Maldonado, who is an urban artist, the program is an opportunity to open the mind to different points of view, rather than the ones imposed in Cuban schools.

“Dissidents there are simply worried about the education of their children. It’s a dogmatic system from the time they are saying ‘pioneers for communism’ at a young age,” he says. He adds that if one wants to change the future of the country, one has to start from one’s roots. 

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