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'The law is prostituted in Cuba,' complain students at the University of Havana

They say that the Law School has become a 'den of police, opportunists and mediocrity'.

La Habana
Exterior of the University of Havana School of Law.
Exterior of the University of Havana School of Law. Onlinetours

Students at the Law School of the University of Havana expressed their disagreement with the educations they are receiving at an academic institution where the violations of rights committed by the Cuban regime are not addressed, nor the challenges that this entails for the justice system.

In a collective letter published anonymously on Monday, the signatories explain that they enrolled "excited about pursuing a prestigious course of studies. We came with the idea of doing good for the people. That was before we discovered that there can be no justice where the law is prostituted. Now we are disillusioned, halfway between our academic lives and an uncertain professional future."

They stress that they all come from "revolutionary' families, who believed in the process, although at this point our own parents are sad, scared and disenchanted. Today they just want the time to pass, for us to get our degrees and go somewhere else. To be able to live with dignity, without misery and in freedom."

The authors of the document state that their professors are phonies "who do not believe in the ethical codes governing good professors and jurists" because "they have betrayed the most elementary human and intellectual imperative: a commitment to the truth."

"In Cuba today, only opportunists and the privileged live well. In Cuba today there are hundreds of people, mostly young people like us, who are still imprisoned for demonstrating, for calling for a better country. The leaders, not the people, have adopted an outrageous Penal Code like something from Batista or Pinochet. Here you get fined for Facebook posts criticizing a corrupt and bourgeois party leader. Or for a comment on Twitter laughing at some blunder by those at the top."

They emphasize that "none of this is what our professors talk about at the School. They do not lack knowledge. What they lack is dignity. They are all too cynical and opportunistic. They spend all their time jockeying for positions, trips abroad, and government commissions. In our classes, we don't talk about Human Rights, and when we do it is done poorly, in passing, as if it were something distant, abstract. We don't talk about how in a country like this there can be a democratic Constitution at the same time that the citizens' rights are being trampled on. Under these conditions, why study Law?"

The letter mentions that some of the professors, including Yuri Pérez, Martha Prieto and Yan Guzmán, "have drawn on their knowledge to justify this disaster. (...) They (and a few others) travel to congresses outside the country, but don't use their knowledge or contacts to support those fighting for justice and democracy in the country where they were born and work."

"The list of lies, corruption, and collaboration by professors with State Security, which surveils students, is known at the School. If any of us say something critical, the professors are the first to make us pay for it. Now these professors are even organizing congresses with prestigious foreign guests to talk about human rights and constitutions. Forums where, under the current conditions of control and censorship, only those who approve of those in power participate. They only serve to deceive, to mask and export this failed model."

According to them, the Law School where generations of revolutionaries who faced other dictatorships studied no longer exists. "As young students today we learn more from worthy professors, true revolutionaries and socialists, such as Julio Antonio Fernández Estrada, Eloy Viera and René Fidel González, than from what we see in our classrooms, where mediocre classes, outdated curricula, hypocritical oaths, and tired and cynical teachers abound. The sad thing is that these professors - Julio, Eloy, René - and others have been expelled from their classrooms."

"We write this to condemn what is happening, as we are powerless to change the situation from within. It pains us to have to do this, because, after all, this is where we are being educated. This is where our degree will come from. But we must pay our debt to the society that taught us, by telling the truth."

They conclude with a piece of advice: "If those who read this are considering studying at the School, forget about it. Spend your time studying something else. Leave the country and make your dream come true elsewhere, where teachers teach about what Justice and Law really are. If you are foreign academics, don’t compromise your names and prestige through agreements and events with this den of police, opportunists and mediocrity, which is what the University of Havana has become."

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