On the island, not only do dissidents suffer, but so too do their families- specifically their children.
Luis Felipe has published this excellent article on Diario de Cuba: (my translation)
Children of Dissidents
by Luis Felipe Rojas
“While the regime assures that it does not allow discrimination, kids and adolescents who are the children of dissidents suffer harassment and feel that their future is ruined”.
Each passing day the regime of Havana finds itself in a tighter spot in their attempt to justify the atrocities committed by their guardians. Two deaths (Zapata and Soto Garcia) in a span of only one year which have proved devastating for their image and the international repercussion they caused have forced the government to give some explanations to the world.
The public beatings of the Ladies in White a few months ago crop up like dark spots in that map of tranquility which they are still bent on trying to portray in the last stronghold of tropical socialism.
Despite the fact that the authorities assure that they strictly comply with measures against discrimination based on race, religion, or thought, the denouncements about harassment made by children of dissidents in regards to their schools prove otherwise.
Only One Doctrine
This past April, the son of an independent journalist from the Havana municipality of Regla was insulted by his teacher due to the anti-government posture assumed by his mother. Similar cases have occurred to various other dissidents and their children in the Eastern region of the island which were consulted for Diario de Cuba.
Three years ago, Martha Diaz Rondon witnessed how they ruined the future of her son Jose Antonio Verdecia Diaz as they kept him from continuing his pre-university studies. “The Direction of Municipal Education did not want to give him the polytechnic scholarship. He had the best grades and yet they put another student, and they did so just because I am a known defender of human rights here in Banes (Holguin)”, said Diaz Rondon, an activist from the Eastern Democratic Alliance.
Yakelin Garcia Jaenz, a dissident from Bayamo in the Granma province, and wife of the political prisoner Ariel Arzuaga Pena, said that her 8 year old son started being aggressive and reluctant to establish relationships with fellow classmates.
“All of this started after the mob attack which occurred here in my house this past 23rd of February”, assured Garcia Jaenz. “After our arrest and the mob attack against us the neighborhood kids stopped playing with him and they avoided him at all costs. That’s not something that comes voluntarily out of the mind of a child. Now I have taken them to a child psychologist and he has improved a bit but the damage has already been done”.
The same thing has occurred to the daughters of Delmides Fidalgo Lopez, an independent evangelical pastor.
Fidalgo Lopez, who resides in the municipality of Buenaventura, Holguin, said he finds himself “with displeasure and impotence” seeing as they call his two daughters “children of worms, of counter-revolutionaries”.
According to the pastor, his daughters have lost all enthusiasm for school, and in a certain aspect, have been forced to be “different” just because of their father’s anti-government stance.
In all cases, parents views the propaganda about juvenile education with indignation and impotence. Granma newspaper “says the opposite” of what actually happens, assured Diaz Rondon.
The Norm and the Consequences
The “socialist emulation” reunions, the guarantees of distinguished or reliable students, and other labels force kids to take part in a competition in which the children of parents who oppose the political and ideological direction of the country are the ones that lose.
Raudel Avila Lozada, the national vice-coordinator of the Pedro Luis Boitel Political Prisoner Group, and a resident of Palma Soriano, told us about the pressures forced on his son, a university student.
“In an assembly set up to discuss the Lineaments of the Political Economy, my son, who studies Physical Education, gave his opinion that he did not agree with the politics of layoffs. When he asked if he could continue his argument, some of the professors told him that in Cuba there was free speech, therefore of course he could go on,” said Avila Losada.
“My son responded by saying that it was not true, saying that his father if persecuted for his political views and for his opinion. Since then, he has had problems with his grades. His mother and I have gone to the university to complain and while they have halted a bit, we know they have him targeted,” he lamented.
Similar actions taken by Martha Diaz Rondon for her son, however, have taken them nowhere.
“The Educational Direction made thousands of promises to me, but time passed and my son remained without the possibilities of entering the pre-university level. He has already been removed from the scale and the only truth is that time has passed and we have solved nothing with complaints- complaints which never went anywhere and just stayed within the walls of school,” she claims.
The pressures exerted over kids and adolescents who are children of dissidents to enter the official “mold” are common: “They threatened my girls, saying they were going to throw them in the lake nearby the school. The eldest, who recently concluded secondary school, did not want to accept any sort of scholarship or award. She had been subjected to an interrogation in the school by a Security official in 2007,” added Fidalgo Lopez.
All those who were interviewed for this report, and others, categorically assured that there are no possibilities of coming to an agreement or resolution with the school authorities, which are solely controlled by the Communist Party.
“Nothing happens, even if you sue them. In school, they are very inflexible with the children of those of us who think differently. What are you going to complain for?”, agreed Avila Lozada and Diaz Rondon.