For years we have reported on professors who brag that they have done something worthwhile by taking their students to Cuba. For example in 2006, we reported that “Gustavus Adolphus College is ahead of the curve on junkets.”
“We have funded ‘Teaching for Social Justice’ trips to Tanzania, Cuba and Ireland,” Professor Eric Eliason, who teaches at GAC, reported to a panel at the Modern Language Association’s annual convention. Dr. Eliason did not share the Civil Liberties primers that Fidel Castro provided.
“The Cuban government targets those who go there so if you’re from Oklahoma and have never been to Cuba, you’ll believe what your professor tells you,” Tania Marstrapa, a research professor at the Institute of World Politics, said at the Heritage Foundation on May 18, 2012. “Then they come back and say they met people on the street who say they have great health care.”
“They haven’t: They’ve met plants.”
Like Eastern European Soviet satellites of old, whose archives she has studies, Mastrapa points out that the Cuban government engages in “disinformation campaigns utilizing media, clergy and Western university professors to make anti-communism unfashionable.”
“Visiting students stay in tourist areas,” says Vanessa Lopez, a research associate at the Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies at the University of Miami. “They don’t see the poverty.”
Lopez has visited the island nation since Fidel Castro famously ceded power to his brother Raul and argues that the alleged changes there have even been cosmetic, at best. “Many people in the media and in some academic circles are saying that the changes that Raul Castro has institute in the past six years have led to democratic changes,” Lopez avers. “This is simply not the case.”
She notes that there are 181 private sector activities permitted under Raul Castro. Budding entrepreneurs, for example, can shine shoes, refill cigarette lighters, be bathroom attendants, and “be a dandy, whatever that is.”
“Raul Castro has governed with severe brutality since 2006,” Lopez claims. “This is not a man who is less of a dictator than his brother.”
As part of the presentation during which both ladies spoke, the Heritage Foundation featured audio messages from human rights activists from within Cuba. “Parallel to this important awakening of consciousness of a people who resist and refuse to continue living without freedom, the forces of the Castro-communist dictatorship have increased their repressive measures against the Cuban people and pro-democracy activists, beating women, threatening to sexually assault them and their small children, surrounding their homes, and confining them to house arrest, proving that they are very fearful of public actions out on the streets as part of the We Are All Resistance and The Streets belong to the People campaigns,” black Cuban activist Jorge Luis Garcia Perez Antunez said. “All these repressive politics are increasing, while various governments and personalities who consider themselves democratic are openly flirting with our repressors, whether it is by visiting the island to meet with our victimizers and ignoring the victims, or by attempting to legitimize the Castro regime in international forums.”
“Meanwhile, it is alarming that while activism and Resistance is increasing inside Cuba and while repression also increases, the government of Mr. Barack Obama has exercised a political agenda of approach and relaxation with the regime of Havana, instead of strengthening the support for the Resistance.”
Malcolm A. Kline is the Executive Director of Accuracy in Academia.
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