Cuban Students, American Students: Indoctrinated

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UPDATE: Read the following after going through the original article the first time, which begins where after the blocked letters of update over. I spoke with Indira, Juan Juan’s daughter, after she read this entry. She cleared things up as it relates to the mystery answer about Juan Juan by the Cuban Student. Juan Almeida Bosque, the original revolutionary commander, had 9 children with three different women. When Bosque passed away recently, only two of his children were permitted to attend the memorial service: Juan Guillermo, who is 22 years old, and Diana, who is 25 years old.

Juan Guillermo and Diana are from Bosque’s most recent marriage. Juan Juan is from Bosque’s first marriage. Juan Guillermo is not a law student, as the Cuban student claimed; he is a performer of Reggaeton in Cuba. Thus, the Cuban student likely lied as to at least one thing about Juan Guillermo: his occupation.

I am not sure, but I believe that the Cuban student spread misinformation purposely to throw off my question and here is why:

The sequence of my questioning was the following: know who Juan Almeida Bosque is? Yes. Know his son, Juan Juan Almeida? Yes. I am friends with Juan Juan and his daughter. Why has the Cuban government prevented Juan Juan from leaving Cuba to see his family and receive medical treatment in the United States? Pause for other questions. Answer from student: “Juan Juan cannot leave Cuba because the United States will not grant him a visa. Follow up Q: But he has been given a Visa, and he has a wife and daughter in the U.S. Answer: Juan Juan is only 22 years old and goes to law school in Cuba; he cannot have had kids. Result: Utter confusion.

Note that I never once mentioned the name Juan Guillermo; I always stated Juan Juan. The Cuban student, when beginning her answer, acknowledged the question was about “Juan Juan”.

Furthermore, I showed the Cuban student a picture of Juan Juan from facebook. Juan Juan is very well known in Cuba; he has published a book; he has been in the international press; he has been in prison; and he has walked with the “Damas de blanco” regularly. Also, the student said something curious about Juan Juan’s photo: “how could that be Juan Almeida Bosque’s son; he was black and Juan Juan is not?” Duh, it’s called when a black and white person, or anything in between, mate and have a lighter skinned offspring. Well, again, I will allow you to be the judge and post the Father Juan Almeida Bosque’s photo right underneath Juan Juan’s and see if there is a resemblance. See below.

Finally, the conclusion I draw: this Cuban student was skilled in using a delicate mix of truth and lies to effectively, at least for everyone else in the room, block the truth. The truth, as the evidence shows: the Cuban government will not allow Juan Juan to leave Cuba because Juan Juan wrote a critical book on the revolution as well as being outspoken about the lack of Human Rights for the Cuban people.

UPDATE OVER

Today, at Hofstra University, there was an event in which two students from Cuba came to speak and take questions. The students, at the outset, claimed that they were not the voice of the government of Cuba, but what they said belied that. I will recount the whole event, from the moment I walked in, till the moment I left.

First, I went in and spoke to two elderly(60s or 70s) individuals who seemed to represent the Militant publication. They tried selling me their book, which was something about Malcomx. At one point, they said that the capitalist system had to be overturned and replaced by a rulership by the proletariat, where the state works for the working class. I interrupted with a question: “do you think the state should be like in Cuba, where there is a dictatorship?” The man responded: “Cuba is not a dictatorship, they have elections; the people are overwhelmingly for the Communist government”. I questioned further: “Isn’t there only one political party in Cuba, that no opposition groups are allowed?”, to which the response was: “Well, there is only one party allowed by law, but other people get elected as well”. I inquired: “But what party do these other people come from?” To which I got some mixed answer/question if I understood the political system in Cuba.

At one point, I told them that I am familiar with their newspaper, that I even had wrote a blog entry on them. The man asked: “was it flattering?” I said, as I walked away, “No, it was quite critical of it”.

I then sat down at one of the five tables there. By the way, there were about 50 people there, including purported professors from the Caribbean Studies Department.

I was introduced to one named Ben Joyce, a top socialist supporter of types, and Ryan Greene,  the official at Hofstra who organized the event. Mr. Greene was speaking in about how he did some research on Cuba over the last couple of weeks and that it was interesting. I asked Mr. Greene if he was familiar with the work of Yoani Sanchez. He said: “No, I haven’t read it, how is her blog?” I said it’s good, it’s poetically written and it is useful in that in provides a direct view into how things are in Cuba.

Mr. Joyce stepped in to clarify something by saying to Mr. Greene: Yoani goes to the U.S. interests section in Havana and receives increased bandwidth so that she can slander the Revolution. I went on the attack, asking Mr. Joyce if he thought that all of what the Cuban bloggers write is just slander of the revolution. He tried deflecting away from the question, stating that they are just 30 or so people out of the millions in Cuba. I told him that his answer was irrelevant because neither of us have spoken to the millions of Cubans living in Cuba. Finally, Mr. Joyce said: “No, not everything they say is slander. No country is perfect(referring to Cuba). He also said that these two students from Cuba that were going to speak would provide some direct insight into Cuba.

I’ll also add that on all the tables in the room, there was a brochure on the “Cuban five”, arrested and sentenced to prison in the U.S, but there was nothing on anything about any Cuban-based oppostion, like for example the recent death of Orlando Zapata Tamayo.

Then the Cuban students came in and took their seats at the front. I immediately introduced myself to them, and welcomed them to the United States. They were quite genial, I must say.

Then two of the organizers introduced the speakers, and the first student began to speak. She began: “I am not here to talk as the voice of the Cuban government; I am here to give you my experiences as I have lived them in my short time on earth”. She did not speak much; in fact, it went almost immediately to questions from the audience.

I was the first person to ask a question and here is what I said: “Do you know Juan Almeida Bosque is, the revolutionary? She said she did. I went on: “Do you know his son, Juan Juan Almeida? She said she did, even that she knew him personally. I said, well, I am friends with Juan Juan and his daughter, Indira; I speak to them regularly. I then got to the point, asking: “do you know why the Cuban government has not allowed Juan Juan to go to the United States to see his family and to receive medical treatment for a serious arthritic condition?”

There was some buzz in the room; she looked a little uncomfortable, and I remember someone else saying that it seemed like the Cuban students did not like the question. I thought she was going to respond, but instead four other questions were taken. Turns out, the questions were organized in 5 block statements, where there would be five questions first, then the 5 answers.

After the 5 questions were asked, it was response time. She answered my question, stating: “the reason Juan Juan cannot leave Cuba is because the United States will not give him a visa”. I interrupted, stating that “Juan Juan was already given a visa by the U.S. government, and furthermore that he has a daughter and wife living in the United States”. She said that cannot be because Juan Juan is only 22 years old and goes to Law School in Cuba; he couldn’t have a daughter. Confounded, I said: “I think you are confused, we are talking about the son of Juan Almeida Bosque, the one who recently passed away, right?” She said, yes, and repeated her claim. At that point, she kind of just moved on to the next question.

I am almost absolutely sure that Juan Juan is the son of Juan Almeida Bosque, that he is not 22 years old, and that he has been actively denied permission–by the Cuban goverment–from coming to the United States. Unless there was a huge misunderstanding, this student lied directly to my face. In fact, after the question period was over, I showed the same student a picture of Juan Juan from facebook on my phone, asking her if that picture was of Juan Juan Almeida. She said that she didn’t recognize that person. Here’s the picture, you be the judge if he looks 22(no offense juan juan)

Juan Juan Almeida: Son of Juan Almeida Bosque

Juan Almeida Bosque: A Commander of the Cuban Revolution

Ok, back to the other questions asked by others at the event. The only other critical question was this: “is internet access restricted in Cuba?” Interestingly, but not surprisingly, another Hofstra student muttered under her breath, referring to the question asker, that he was an idiot.

The other Cuban student, a male, answered that question, explaining that the reason internet access is restricted in Cuba is because of the U.S. embargo. All of the answers given by the Cuban students, except perhaps the one asked by me, seemed to reflect exactly what Fidel writes in his “Reflections” in the Cuban-state owned newspaper, El Granma. Of course, the answer on the internet access lacked some veracity, like him explaining that only Cuban-based websites can be accessed because of a lack of bandwidth. I’m sure there is some truth to the lack of bandwidth, but I am also sure there is some truth to the fact that the Cuban government actively limits, based on content, what websites are visible within Cuba.

The other questions were about the “Cuban five” and general experiences. No question, not one, was asked about the recent death of Orlando Zapata Tamayo, or anything about any dissidents. I am not even sure what percentage of the people in that room knew, let alone read, any of the Cuban-based blogs. Of course, it’s easier to not read and just say the only thing that can be said when one’s love affair with socialism is questioned: they’re all paid agents of the U.S. government! No one could, shock, have an alternative viewpoint on the utopia of the Cuban revolution.

What the female student said in closing was clutch, and exemplary of what seems to be such a black hole for Humans to fall into: one solution. The student said, in reference to the future of the Cuban revolution: “socialism is the only answer”. There is never one answer; socialism is not the answer; capitalism is not the answer. Has history not taught us that when one latches onto “one answer” disaster and atrocities are natural side effects of the unnatural one answer? Apparently, if indeed there were history professors at that meeting, it is no surprise that none of these students at the meeting possessed critical thinking on the situation in Cuba.

Back to the end, when I was speaking with the female student. After she refused to recognize Juan Juan Almeida, I asked her about Orlando Zapata Tamayo. She said: “he was a common criminal”. I’ve heard that before, so I wasn’t surprised. I then went on with a more difficult question: “Are there political prisoners in Cuba?” She said, “yes”, but qualified it by saying that the political prisoners get to take classes in prison and when they are released they get special programs. She also qualified it by saying there are political prisoners in the United States, specifically Puerto Rican political prisoners. I said, “I know, but that is not relevant; there should not be political prisoners anywhere in the world, regardless of who is imprisoning them.”

I ended my conversation with her, trying to get her to admit that Cuba was a dictatorship, but she would not budge, saying that the local level of government is elected by the people, and the top level, Raul and Fidel, are very popular and get reelected. I told her I did not believe it. I concluded: “Cuba needs more freedom, more democracy, so that there are no political prisoners.” She asked: “well, what is your definition of democracy”. I do not remember exactly what I said, but I told her more or less that the current Cuba does not have freedom. Finally, I told her it was nice meeting her and that I hoped she would enjoy the rest of her stay in the United States.

Again, these students were exceptionally friendly and I would say even warm. I will say that this is probably more of a reflection of the goodness of the Cuban people, not the wicked 50+ years of indoctrination that has been forcefed to the people. Due to that indoctrination, I cannot direct my blame for the Human Rights violations, for the murder of Tamayo, on these students. The blame, the guilt, and the retribution should be pinpointed on those that have, for more than 50 years, issued propaganda after propaganda to convince their people that the “revolution” is the only way; that it is so important even to justify the death, imprisonment, and social ostracism of their very own people, the Cubans.

The left over blame should go onto the Americans that, even with the myriad of sources of information on Cuba and the purported critical thinking taught to them in the universities in the United States, have refused to acknowledge that the Cuban Revolution is a murderous one; that even if it has made exceptional advances in Medicine, Education, and sends humanitarian aid throughout the world, it still is a government led by men who blatantly and almost wholly restrict the very freedoms we so enjoy in the United States. Even at the cost of its own peoples’ lives.

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14 Responses to “Cuban Students, American Students: Indoctrinated”

  1. Yolanda Guerra Says:

    What exactly was the point of having these students visit Hofstra? As Hofstra law student of Cuban heritage, I am deeply offended that Hofstra would host a lecture promoting the Cuban government and socialism in general. Is this what my tuition dollars are being spent on? It makes me wonder what would happen if a group of students invited Muslims to come and speak to the student body about how the holocaust never happened. There are, after all, many who purport this as the truth. As much as I am for free speech, I begin to draw the line when it results in blatant misinformation and ignorance! Sounds to me like that is all that was happening at this supposed “academic lecture.” Which leads me to wonder who exactly this Mr. Greene is and what his agenda is. This is definitely going to result in a strongly worded letter to the Dean and perhaps even the Provost from me! Thank you so much for providing such detail about what transpired at this unfortunate event.

    I will say one thing, though, I agree with your comments about the students themselves and I find no fault with them personally. They are the collateral damage of a communist dictatorship! I have no doubts, though, that they were as friendly and warm as you describe. I, too, have found the Cuban people as a whole to be generally warm-hearted, and I’m not just saying that because of my own background!

    • bjohns15 Says:

      Before you write a letter to the dean, speak to John Leschak, who helped organize it. To his credit, John allowed me to attend knowing that I would ask tough questions. The other issue is that if it were open to the general public, there would be the other idiots attending(i.e. college republicans). But there WAS misinformation spread, especially as it relates to my specific question. I’ve spoken to Indira, Juan Juan’s daughter, and the 22 year old son that the student referenced is NOT a law student; he does reggaeton. Also, his name is Juan Guillermo, not Juan Juan. I was clear in my citing of Juan Juan, not Juan Guillermo.

      I will conclude, however, that this tour is not for “cultural” exchange; it is a defense of the Cuban government. Given the grave human rights situation of political prisoners in Cuba, it is a disservice to basic decency to misinform students to the detriment of freedom for the political prisoners.

  2. Gringo Says:

    I appreciate your making the effort to confront the Fidelista propagandists. Nice people, but still propagandists.This publication,Renaissance and Decay, which compares pre and post 1959 Cuba, has some useful information to throw in the faces of the Fidelistas. Here is some information on milk production, which updates the milk production data in Renaissance and Decay.

    Perhaps you already have this information. If so, I apologize for wasting your time.

    Links courtesy of a Republican Idiot. ‘Ta barato. Dame dos datos. 🙂
    (Link from Devil’s Excrement)

    • bjohns15 Says:

      Gringo,
      Thanks for the links. I did take a class once that focused, in part, on Cuba before 1959. Recently, with this blog, I haven’t written too much on the Batista years, but I’ve been thinking about writing on it, especially if the Cuba becomes more open–they need to create a nation that does not become to exploited by the mammoth to the North.

  3. Rolando Pulido Says:

    ¡GENIAL!
    Thanks Bryan,
    You are on the right track my friend…keep it up always, you are a great man.
    Un abrazo,
    RP

  4. Sixto Sicilia Marrero Says:

    One listens to these students and one can see the Learned Helplessness of the entire lot and the reality that if all that Castro has in his ammunitions is the Embargo (useless at this point), lift it. The Castrisyas would fold under their lack of physical and psychological infrastricture.

  5. Sixto Sicilia Marrero Says:

    It always comes down to the Embargo. Seems like the only piece ammunition the Cateoa have to prolong the Learned Helpness or the general dumbo culture that they have created. Lift the Embargo) it is useless now. At the present they would crumble under the lack of physical and psychological infrastructure in Cuba. Lift the Embargo and let the Cyber Mambises in.

    • bjohns15 Says:

      I agree to an extent. It is clear that the embargo has not worked, especially since the embargo is partial i.e. the Castro’s still get tons of funds from the E.U. and other places.

  6. MERCEDES PERDIGON Says:

    right,,, that is what is needed. do this , and our country and our people will be pleased and satisfied, it necessary to clarify all these things ,well done, yo are a wonderful person , thank you very much

  7. Jim T Says:

    Perfectly stated. It shows what a generation’s worth of inundation in propaganda and outright lies does to a nation. Beware: this could be in our future, too.

    • bjohns15 Says:

      Jim,

      You are right; it could be our future. Luckily for us, although there is oodles of propaganda, it comes from a variety of sources, unlike in Cuba.

  8. Puerto Rican Political Prisoners: Time to Move On « Life Through the Lens of Bryan Says:

    […] Life Through the Lens of Bryan A unique perspective on life and politics « Cuban Students, American Students: Indoctrinated […]

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