Group Title: Opinions page, Independent Florida Alligator, January 19, 1984 : rebuttle to "Cuban Scholar Exchange Under Fire" article published September 19, 1983.
Title: Opinions page, Independent Florida Alligator, January 19, 1984 : rebuttle to "Cuban Scholar Exchange Under Fire" article published September 19, 1983. 1984.
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 Material Information
Title: Opinions page, Independent Florida Alligator, January 19, 1984 : rebuttle to "Cuban Scholar Exchange Under Fire" article published September 19, 1983. 1984.
Uniform Title: Opinions page, Independent Florida Alligator, January 19, 1984 : rebuttle to "Cuban Scholar Exchange Under Fire" article published September 19, 1983.
Physical Description: Newspaper
Publisher: Independent Florida Alligator
Publication Date: 1984
Subject: Caribbean   ( lcsh )
University of Florida.   ( lcsh )
Spatial Coverage: North America -- Cuba -- Caribbean
North America -- United States of America -- Florida
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00081788
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved, Board of Trustees of the University of Florida

Full Text

Cuban study questioned 20 years after the revolution

Editor's note: Last semester, The Alligator published
an article about a proposal by Dade County legislators to
ban exchange programs between Florida's state
universities and communist countries.
The article quoted Rep. Roberto Casas, R-Hialeah. who
feared faculty and students from communist countries
S"are here to spy ... and trying to get students to join the
Communist Party." Casas said he and Rep. Humberto
Cortina, R-Afiami, had the support of their Cuban
constituency for the proposed bill. The reporter never
wrote of any plans at UF to sign an agreement with the
Cuban government for an exchange program.
A few days after the article appeared. The Alligator
editorialized in favor of exchange programs with
communist countries.
Editor. For some time now, I have been mulling over
the inferences lurking in Mitch Miller's badly written and
factually distorted article. "Cuban Scholar Exchange
Under Fire," in the Sept. 19 edition of your newspaper 1
have finally convinced myself that I must write this letter
to correct the impressions that article may have left in the
minds of some of your readers.
There is no proposed legislation being generated
anywhere by anyone in the Florida State legislature to
punish UF or any other university in Florida for the
political ideologies found in its academic programs.
SThere is no such legislation proposed now, nor was there
any such legislation proposed by Rep. Humberto Cortina
of Dade County during the discussions I held with him
during last April and May. To assert, as Miller did in his

article, that the university sought to "appease" any
legislator regarding the subject matter contained in our
academic programs is not only inaccurate, it is, at best,
,- There are no plans at this university to sign any
agreement with the Cuban government regarding a

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student exchange program. However, UF has sent four or
five professors to Cuba in the past three years to conduct
research in history and Spanish literature in the archives
at Havana and to conduct archeological surveys on that
island. This sort of activity will continue during the next
several years, and Rep. Cortina knows this and accepts it.
No formal agreements with the Cuban government on the
part of UF are envisioned in the near future.

.- Rep. Cortina, a wounded veteran of the Bay of Pigs
campaign and a former prisoner under the Castro
government, understandably has views of the present
government of Cuba that are not in accord with the views
of some of the faculty and students on this campus who
study and do research in Latin American studies. The
main thrust of the discussions I held last spring with
Cortina regarded his concerns that our students not be
presented with only one side of all the issues surrounding
Cuba and its history during the past 25 years; that
students be given a balanced view of that history. Cor-
tina, an alumnus of this university. perfectly understands
the importance of the first amendment of the Constitution
of the United States and of the concept of academic
Miller's article did a disservice to Cortina. to me and to
all who teach and work at the Center for Latin American

Robert A. Bryan
VicePresident. Academic Affairs

CLAS invites

Cuba supporters
Editor: In reference to last semester's
article on the academic exchange with the
government of Cuba, I wish to express
that 1 would be appalled if there were
"legislation defining course content and
what should be taught and who should
teach it." But to dwell on an issue that all
lovers of the free exchange of ideas agree
upon is to divert attention from the
crucial and fundamental question in-
volved in this exchange. What motivates
the Center for Latin American Studies
(CLAS) to undertake an exchange in-
volving envoys of a regime that for a
quarter century has seen lit to demon-
strate the justice of its cause with the
injustice of totalitarian methodsP The
Cuban regime has proven to Latin
America that there is something worse
than censorship for censorship forces
one to withhold one's truth, but
totalitarian coercion forces one to
proclaim the truth to others. And what
convictions may motivate Dr. Safa, the
center's director, to promote an exchange
in which students and faculty from the
United States would unequivocably be
denied their most fundamental right in
the host country the right to an
academic environment in which a variety
of ideas ma% be freely and openly
If these questions were asked, the real
issue at hand would be apparent; the issue
of the commitment to academic ob-
jectivity within the framework of
academic freedom; and the question: can
you have one without the other?
As if it were not already certain that
Cuban faculty promulgate views strictly
in accordance with the official policy of
their government, the CLAS last spring
invited two Cuban "scholars" who have
doubtful academic pasts.
It thus becomes a question of whether
the CLAS, generously funded as the
leader on Caribbean migration, is
fulfilling its responsibility to objective
study by deeming it necessary to consult
the former Cuban vice minister of
agriculture on the subject of Cuban exiles
in Florida. If the answer to this question is
not immediately clear, or if the case of
Valdez Paz seems an isolated one,
perhaps. The Alligator should have at-
tempted to show us how the CLAS has
approached one of the most significant
migrational phenomena in the Carib-
bean: the exodus over the last 25 years of
approximately 15 percent of the present
Cuban population.
It would have become evident that
since 1980, the CLAS has categorically
refused to approach the subject with any
degree of seriousness or responsibility.
Rather, the center has chosen to dismiss
the issue with arguments that, both in
rhetoric and content, very closely
resemble those of the official Cuban
government line. Thus, the CLAS and

Havana seem to agree: those Cubans who
refuse to participate in the propagation of
communist rule in their country are the
damnable "worms" who crawled away
from progress and are unfit to be called
Indeed, if the CLAS were consistent in
its approach, we might find it condoning
the Duvalier regime on the subject of the
Haitian migration. Thus, when a body of
ideas emanates from a totalitarian
government in the form of propaganda
and is transferred to a foreign university
in the guise of objectively presented
material, it clearly ceases to be a question
of academic freedom, which is assured,
and becomes a question of the com-
mitment to academic objectivity, which is
highly in doubt.

CarIes A. DI. g4LS

Cuban students

desire balance

Editor: During the past months,
various articles have been printed in both
the Cainesville Sun and The Alligator
dealing with the UF Center for Latin
American Studies' lack of academic
objectivity and the Cuban-American
Student Association (CASA).
Some of these articles have quoted
individual members as spokespersons for
CASA. Our organization has never taken
a formal stand on this issue, but since we
have been involved through the press, we
feel impelled to clarify, as a group, issues
dealt with in these articles. The Cuban-
American Student Association is not
concerned with whether or not it is
supported by the Center for Latin
American Studies (CLASI but rather with
the role of the center in presenting an
objective academic program for its
students. The subject of Cuba is a case in
In the past two and a half years, and in
contrast to the policy previously followed
by CLAS, the main guest lecturers the
center has sponsored dealing with the
subject of Cuba writer Edmundo
Desnoes, historian Manuel Moreno
Fraginals and poet Eliseo Diego are not

only all residing in Cuba but are also
open advocates of the Cuban regime.
These past activities sponsored by
CLAS have presented only one per-
spective of the Cuban communist model.
We. as students seeking different points of
view, have not found them in the
programs offered by CLAS. Desiring a
critical and objective course of studies
concerning Cuba, among other topics, we
have sought to offer a different per-
For this reason, we have found the need
to bring various speakers to the
university, such as Juan Clark, sociologist
at Miami-Dade Community College and
expert on the Cuban exodus; Reinaldo
Arenas, prominent Cuban writer
currently living in New York; Carlos
Franqui, former leader of the Cuban
underground and teoprankfa Cuban

government official until 1968, now a
dissident living in Italy; Huber Matos, a
former commander of the Cuban Rebel
Army, now exiled in the United States;
and Hilda Perera, a Cuban novelist also
residing in the United States, among
others. We have also shown the
documentary entitled In Their Own
Words, a film about the latest Cuban
exodus of 1980, a topic that has never
been addressed by the center, even under
its two-year program on Caribbean
As an organization made up of
students, we desire the opportunity to
study all aspects of any subject, Cuba
being but one of them. We would hope
that CLAS would fulfill its responsibility
as a public learning institution by
balancing its programs. Thus, we wish to
reiterate that our objective is not to gain
funding for our particular organization,
nor to prevent the center from bringing
individuals favorable to the Cuban
communist government. Rather, our
main concern is that CLAS present
different points of views regarding the
political, economic and social assessment
of the Cuban regime. Only in this manner
can the center fulfill its responsibility to
the students, the university community
and to academic objectivity.

Cars A. Diez,
President, Cubn-Amertcn
Student AmoeCdtiem

Center programs

have objectivity

Editor: We, as concerned individuals
and active participants at the Center for
Latin American Studies, convinced of our
right to determine through research,
academic and pragmatic, what beliefs we
support, find it particularly insulting that
some people try to deprive us of our right
to academic freedom, under the guise of
The Center for Latin American Studies
is not designed to serve as a forum for any
particular group or country. As its name
implies, it includes practically all the
hemisphere. Some legislators and students
alike intend to give the impression that all
U.S. citizens in general, and Cubans in
the United States in particular, have, or
should have, the same feelings, ideas and
attitudes, both toward Cuba and the issue
of academic freedom. This view is far
from objective. As a matter of fact, there
are many people who see this type of
position as fanatical and intimidating.
There are also those who are kind of
middle-of-the-road; and even those who,
although with a critical attitude, respect,
if not support, the Cuban government.
What makes some people think that the
center should be theirs, to voice only the
opinion of a particular group? And all
that in the name of objectivity? Nonsense,
demagogic nonsense
The programs at the center respond to
the concerns of interested students and
faculty. The past year, the center invited
two internationally recognized scholars
from Cuba, a poet and a historian. At the
end of each conference there was an open
session for questions. The speakers an-
swered with all courtesy and true
knowledge of their field and of the
country in which they chose to live. The
center has also sponsored different
conferences and discussions on migration,
censure, peasantry, and culture.
To say half-truths smells of bad faith.
To emphasize only one side of any
experience is a sophism. Finally, name-
calling is absolutely a very low blow.
Students in general, and especially those
who are not active at the center, should
have a little more respect toward their
fellow students, the faculty, and the
administration of the university in which
they chose to study. These specific people
should also have more respect toward the
principles of democracy, freedom and
plurality of the country they chose.
Maybe the problem resides in an
"absence of memory" on one side, and a
definite tendency to elaborate on what
they do choose to remember, to a point
bordering on hysteria, or low-quality
melodrama. This, of course, is not the
definition of objectivity. It could be the
germ of repression.

Jon Jonakn. 7LS, and 24 other
student signatures
Dan Rebouasin, 7LS, and nine other
staff nd eollaboretor signatures.
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