Cuban Dissidents Prepare for the Future / Ivan Garcia
Posted on March 12, 2014
While 17 young Cuban dissidents attend advanced courses to master the
tools of leadership and business at a university center in Miami, in
Havana, the newly formed Fundación Sucesores, imparts courses to the
civil society in Havana. Run by sociologist Carlos Millares, 65,
Fundación Sucesores has been giving classes to the nascent civil society
since December of 2013.
“We told students the location at the last minute, so that the State
Security wouldn’t put any obstacles in our way, preventing classes,”
said Millares. The group has a collegiate direction. Besides Millares,
the group is integrated by Frank Abel García, Daniel Palacios, Tamara
Rodríguez, William Cácer, and Luis Alberto Diéguez. With the exception
of Millares, everyone is between 26 and 40 years old.
“Since the second half of January, we’ve been teaching two courses: one
for the formation of leaders, and another one for journalists and photo
journalists. Each course has 10 students,” said Frank Abel.
Most of the participants are young people that recently became involved
with political activism or independent journalism. The classes are
ambulatory and secret. One week, they can be at a room in ruins at the
old part of the city and outside the capital limits the following week.
The leadership course lasts six months and among other subjects teaches
history, law, social media, and public speaking. Intellectual dissidents
such as Manuel Cuesta Morúa, lawyer René López, Julio Negrín, Arturo
Torrecillas, Daniel Palacios and Carlos Millares, teach the classes.
Desks consist of seats at a dinner table or a bed. The students copy the
content of the classes in flash drives. Professors only have one laptop.
“We don’t have all the necessary resources, but the lack of resources
cannot be an impediment to create and prepare people within the
incipient society in Cuba,” said Millares.
The course of journalism lasts four months and includes 20 topics. Four
of the six members from the board of directors from Successors
Foundation became dissidents after they worked in State institutions.
Millares has the most experience of all. He has been part of different
dissident organizations for the last 25 years. He was a curious and
polemic general secretary for the Union of Young Communists in the
faculty of medical science in the University of Havana.
His journey to the pacific opposition was a slow and painful process,
like surgery without anesthesia. Frank Abel worked as chief of staff in
Radio Rebelde, a radio station symbolic of the revolution. Abel became a
provincial delegate at the radio station. He was involved in a case
orchestrated by the cultural authorities against young intellectuals
from OMNI Free Zone. His sense of justice made him break from the regime.
For eight years, Daniel Palacios was a sports chronicler from the
official newspapers Trabajadores and Juventud Rebelde. He had a spot in
the capital radio station COCO, in which along with other reporters, he
tried to break with the government censorship. Palacios gave out the
results from the games of the Major Leagues during his time on air in
radio, and remembered that before the Castro dictatorship from 1962,
there was a glorious past in baseball, Cuba’s national hobby.
“One afternoon, I received a call from Pelayo Terry’s office, who was
then director of the newspaper Juventud Rebelde. Two men from the State
Security threatened me and showed me mail that I had exchanged with
Wilfredo Cancio Isla, a Cuban reporter from Miami. After my expulsion
from my position as a journalist, they have continued to harass me,”
His exit from official journalism had repercussions for his family life.
He lives away from his wife and daughter because he doesn’t have a place
of his own. Most of his colleagues from within the state journalism have
turned their backs on him.
“It has been hard but I feel good about myself, which is the most
important thing,” Palacios said. Now, besides teaching journalism
classes, he writes for Café Fuerte and Diario de Cuba.
Tamara Rodríguez was a commercial specialist at CIMEX, a military
corporation that collects convertible pesos for the government. They
tried to embroil her in a corruption case after she started to make
friends with women from the Ladies in White.
After she broke ranks with the government, she became part of the group.
Since the beginning of 2013, Frank Abel went to the home of sociologist
Carlos Millares and told him about his interest in turning young
dissidents into leaders.
Through different paths, opposition organizations in Cuba or in the
United States decide to take dissidence as an option. Perhaps, today’s
dissidence is uncomfortable for many exiled people from Cuba, due to
their distinct pacifism and inability to create a powerful lobby group
in the neighborhoods of the island.
Havana is far from being Kiev or Táchira. In Cuba, the opposition from
the barricades suffers the worst. But the future could be different.
When new times arrive, nongovernmental organizations would have
materialized the initiatives toward young Cuban dissidents, who have had
trouble accessing a college education because of their political views.
Some of these organizations are the Human Rights Foundation from
Florida, in collaboration with Miami Dade College, which work with
funding from private donations and the United States government.
From this side of the world, some people do not sit back. They start
initiatives to promote values of democratic leadership and the use of
journalistic tools among young activists.
The Fundación Sucesores is one of those initiatives. According to its
members, this initiative is about a new Cuba, who above all, needs
people qualified in the art of politics, democracy, and modern journalism
And that future is around the corner.
3 March 2014
Source: Cuban Dissidents Prepare for the Future / Ivan Garcia |
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