Cuban professor David Alejandro Martínez Espinosa was fired on Tuesday from the University of Medical Sciences in Cienfuegos for signing the announcement of a peaceful protest for change scheduled in that city, as in others across Cuba, for November 15. According to the institution, his dismissal was due to "his loss of ideology supporting the Cuban Revolution."
"Today, Tuesday, October 19, 2021, Arelys Falcón Hernández, Rector of the University of Medical Sciences in Cienfuegos, along with the dean and another worker, organized a meeting with me to dismiss me as a teacher, terminating my employment contract as a university professor," Martinez stated on Facebook, including images of the document.
According to the paper, signed by the rector of the University of Medical Sciences in Cienfuegos, a decision was made "to revoke the 'Teaching Category' of Instructor/Chemical Engineer David Alejandro Martínez Espinosa , who works in the Department of General Training" at the center, due to "a loss of exemplarity, prestige and the requirements for the position of university professor."
The professor considers his ejection from the University of Medical Sciences in Cienfuegos a measure taken by State Security, and of a punitive and dissuasive nature. "Punitive, insofar as it constitutes a punishment for what I have done until today, in relation to my civic activism in favor of the rights of all Cubans to express their opinions and disagreements peacefully," he said.
"And dissuasive insofar as it aims to deter me from continuing to do so. Above all, it is obvious that it seeks to discourage me from protesting on the 15th. I want to let them all know that I could care less about your threats, your phone calls, your anonymous messages, your photos of me walking down the street ... you have lost that psychological war. I’m a Catholic, and I know that, before God, there are no anonymous heroes. As long as I can walk ... I will hit the street to demonstrate, because the street is not yours, though the potholes and holes that mar it are," he stated.
"From here I condemn, before the whole world, and before my Cuban countrymen wherever they may be, the injustice of Cuba's socialist system, which deprives a good citizen of his sustenance for the 'crime' of criticizing the government of his country; or, worse still, for going out to demonstrate civically and peacefully to demand an end to violence, workplace harassment, freedom for political prisoners, and a national dialogue between all Cubans," he said
"What am I supposed to do now? Look for another job? Will I find one at any government institution? Will anyone in the private sector dare to hire me? We’ll see. Is the Central de Trabajadores de Cuba (CTC) an organization that defends all professionals? Or will it be yet one more tool at the service of those currently in power? What was the use of being a member of the union?" he asked.
"My, what worthy children of Culture, Knowledge and Civilization, these who deprive an honest worker of his bread, his students of their teacher, and an institution of higher learning of a free space necessary for debate. And, to make me even prouder, it was on the eve of National Culture Day. Long live the National Culture!" he concluded.
Journalist José Raúl Gallego stated that "David Martínez Espinosa has become the first Cuban university professor to lose his job in retaliation for his involvement in the organization of the 15-N protests. The repressors continue to ratchet up their level: subpoenas, interrogations, threats, pressure placed on families, internet interruptions, and now firings."
Martínez signed the announcement of the peaceful demonstration for change in Cienfuegos when the date set was November 20. However, the group Archipiélago moved up the date for the progest to 15-N due to the regime’s convening of National Defense Day events from 18 - 20 November.
On October 12 the local authorities in several cities rejected the announcement of the protests based on their alleged "illegitimacy."
Another reason to march on 15-N: "an end to the workplace harassment of citizens with different political ideas'
David Alejandro Martínez Espinosa recounted his meeting with the rector of the University of Medical Sciences in Cienfuegos, who informed him of his firing. The professor read the document, containing "a flagrant lie" in one of the arguments advanced against him. Thus, after the conversation he says he has one more reason to march on 15-N: "an end to the workplace harassment of citizens with different political ideas."
"WHEREAS: Instructor David Alejandro Martínez Espinosa during his career has, on social media, questioned the Cuban social process, as regards work, society and politics, openly expressing defiance and criticism of our political system. There has been an evident escalation in his attacks against the Cuban Revolution and the values that it promulgates, with him echoing false news about the current situation in Cuba and the country's leaders, inciting Cuban youth to directly challenge our social process. His public expressions evidence his loss of ideological support for the Cuban Revolution, which has led to the gradual deterioration of his exemplarity and his fitness to serve as a university professor," the document alleged.
Martínez asked the rector to cite for him "just one of the supposed lies" that he had posted. "She mentioned my criticism of the Cuban political system and the leaders of the Revolution. I replied that a negative evaluation of the leaders' political management does not constitute echoing fake news, but rather expressing my opinion on that issue, which I have a right to do, in writing and orally, to whomever I see fit. He later referred to an excellent post by Madelyn Sardiñas Padrón, dated October 12, in which she analyzes the government's rejection of the signatories' request to peacefully march on November 15. I shared that post on my page, and the rector told me that, although that was not my opinion, the article was false. She asked me why I encouraged people to march on 15-N on my Facebook page, and I replied that it was a right that no one could deny us."
"When she announced that she had summoned me to fire me, I told her that this alone was irrefutable proof of what she called 'fake news': namely, the dictatorial nature of the Cuban regime, which considers the exemplarity of a professor to be contingent upon his political ideology. I challenged her to give me a single example of a university professor in any free country in the world who had lost a teaching position due to political opinions expressed on their Facebook page. She was silent."
"I argued once more, as at her interrogation of me last March, that I do not talk about politics with my students in class. She repeated that as Cuban professors working at a public university we had to embrace the 'values' of the socialist system, and that those who do not cannot teach. I told her that that was outrageous, and very wrong. She only answered: 'that's your opinion.' I told her that she had every right in the world to be a Communist, but that she had no right to impose her ideology on me or any other citizen. She told me that the march on 15-N was not peaceful, as we said, and that this would be confirmed on 15-N. I replied: ‘Of course it won?t peaceful, but do you know why? Because the police and security forces are going to beat us.’ She did not reply."
"She later told me that the police, as security forces, have a duty to suppress wrongdoing, and that it was this way all over the world. I told her that that was not true, because one thing is to inhibit a crime, and another to crush a peaceful demonstration. As an example I cited 11 July in Cienfuegos, where I was, and I asked her what windows were broken, or what violence had been committed by the protestors there. She conceded that that was true, but that there had been vandalism in other parts of the country."
"I told her: don't change the subject. We are in Cienfuegos, and I'm talking to you about what I saw with my own two eyes. Nobody told me about it. In Cienfuegos the vandals were the police, who beat people, shoved them to the ground, and threw them into their trucks for shouting 'Freedom', 'Homeland and Life', etc. She tried to avoid the issue, claiming that some protesters had offended the president, referring to shouts of 'Díaz Canel sin casa' (No home for Díaz Canel). I told her that that was true, but that it arose spontaneously, and that not all of us on 11-J knew each other, so not everyone could be judged by the shouts of just some," he added.
Martínez told the rector that "the spreaders of fake news were the journalists on the national news program who yesterday (Monday) reported that they would not allow the 15-N march because it was a pro-annexation. I told her to find a single case in which Archipiélago even suggested the possibility of annexation. She did not reply. I asked, 'What would you do if I reported you for pimping right now?’ She told me that, of course, it would be unethical and improper, because it would be a false accusation. I replied: ‘Well, that's the way we feel when you accuse us of being annexationists and mercenaries.’ She replied that the problem is that the 'bent' of all these dissident groups is the same: annexationism. I replied that, ‘first of all, that’s false; and second, that is not among Archipiélago's principles.’"
The rector told Martínez that he could "continue working as an engineer, but not as a professor" because due to his "ideological position, he cannot educate students."
"She told me that she was fulfilling her dual role: as a Communist and as the rector. And, indeed, she is nothing more than an instrument of the dictatorship, used to repress a teacher who is not a Communist. She told me that it was not true that there was repression at the university because she was aware that many other professors thought differently (meaning that they are not revolutionaries) but they had not lost their right to teach. I immediately replied: "What you are telling me then, with the greatest respect, demonstrates the university's hypocrisy, because you are suggesting that you know that there are other professors who are not Communists, and the only difference between them and me is that they do not say so openly or post it on social media."
Martínez told the rector "Well, it's a shame. I hope that one day we can see each other in a context other than this one." "And she answered, almost reconciled: 'Yes, it's a shame.' I said goodbye and left her office with one more reason to go to march on 15-N. In addition to all the other reasons we had to demonstrate, now I can add this: 'for the end of the workplace harassment of citizens with different political ideas.'"