The Weight of a System against Cuban Scientist Ariel Ruiz

Armando Chaguaceda

Ariel Ruiz Urquiola

HAVANA TIMES — Over the past two hundred years, Ariel has been the literary symbol of free spirits, haunted by tryants and merchants. From Shakespeare to Rodo, this character embodies the ups and downs of so many intellectuals, artists and scientists, who are ignored by fellow nationals, under the oppressive rule of dictatorships and oligarchies. However, sometimes the metaphor becomes sad reality. 

Ariel Ruiz Urquiola is a young scientist being held prisoner here in Cuba, the victim of a rigged trial revealing a country’s impunity where State law supersedes its people’s rights. A renowned biologist and dedicated environmentalist, Ariel had been denouncing Cuban officials’ poor management for a few years now. This as well as his friendships with rebellious young people, were reason enough for the State’s repressive machine (political police, courts, ordinary criminals) to come crashing down on him.

In spite of pressure, Ariel didn’t leave his homeland. He launched an agroecological project, along with his family, in a remote place on the island ( In a country where young people (especially highly-educated and trained youth) leave Cuba to go anywhere else, looking for a future, Ariel’s determination should be recognized and encouraged.

However, any praxis of independence is suspicious to a government who is more worried about clinging onto power and controlling society. And if a scientist, resolute on acting as a citizen, is leading this movement, then that just makes matters worse.

Ariel is being locked up in dreadful overcrowded conditions, in a precarious food and health situation. On the other hand, he is now one more of the thousands of Cubans (mostly Black and poor) who inhabit Cuban prisons, making Cuba one of the country’s with the highest incarceration rates in the world.

However, Ariel has become the example that henchmen think to use to discourage any public event and articulation from the Cuban scientific community. In the same way they have been harrassing and managing rights of artists, independent workers, the (few) NGOs that have existed on the island and even emigres, in a country of hostages, where the government uses its power to manage its citizens’ lives, emotions and hopes.

As a result of his human warmth and career, as well as how abusive and ridiculous the case against him is, dozens of Cubans (including colleagues living on the island) have raised their voices to support Ariel on online platforms ( and in appeals presented to the corresponding bodies. However, that isn’t enough. We have to demand Cuban officials (both here in Cuba and abroad): release him, drop this out of proportion and legally shady legal process, honor his discourse of a Just Revolution. To Cuban scientists: Defend each other. To foreign universities: denounce agreements with a State that imprisons its researchers. To the press: give him fair visibility.

To every decent person out there (Cuban or foreign, scientist or not) who knows about Ariel and his family’s drama: don’t turn a blind eye. Nobody is talking about attacking barracks or boycotting a global summit. This transcends ideology and personal sentiments. Whatever we risk in our lives and careers is nothing if we compare it to what Ariel and his loved ones are suffering. Let’s stand with them, let’s not fall victim to our fears, calculations and fatigue. After all, Ariel’s work is for a better future for everyone. And therefore, his defeat is also our defeat.

8 thoughts on “The Weight of a System against Cuban Scientist Ariel Ruiz

  • i will respond to both your above comments jon keller.
    You say “there are indeed positive realities in Cuba” but fail to describe any, preferring to yet again drag in the dead cat of US activities.
    Maybe sometime you will favour all of us with a list of the “positive realities”. (Don’t bother talking about education and medical services – that’s all old hat, the first has the defined purpose of communist indoctrination and the second is modelled upon policies previously introduced in the capitalist world).

    2016 Statistics for incarceration per 100,000 population are:
    1. US 698
    2. Turkmenistan 583
    3. Virgin Islands (US) 542
    4, Cuba 510
    So I guess that Cuba has improved it’s position from the figure of 6th that you gave.

    Nobody is arguing about the US, the Havana Times is predominantly about Cuba and Latin America but you have obviously a fixation.

    Julian Assange is in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London of his own choosing. He is “trapped” by his reluctance to face the sexual charges facing him in the Swedish Courts. He can leave any time he chooses and face Swedish justice. Maybe now you will attack Sweden’s courts – make a change from the US!

  • It’s only part of the picture. No, I don’t support this persons incarceration. With more creativity his energies could be coopted and used to the benefit of others.
    Please admit that there are indeed positive realities in Cuba, and I will try to emphasize the positive in US society and ignore the atrocities that the US carries out around the world. Not least the 60 year blockade and interference in the sovereign Nation of Cuba.

  • True Cuba incarcerates many. Internet statistics put it at 6 out of all countries. The vaunted land of the “free” of course is the US at first place! Go figure. Also the US has more gun deaths than most countries. There are not a few political prisoners here as well. Julian Assange being trapped in the Ecuadorean embassy in London is to be included.

  • Gracias , Lynda, por su decencia y solidaridad. Puede ayudar sumándose a la campaña en apoyo a Ariel en que aparece en el texto. Un abrazo

  • To revert to English. The Cuban regime is really frightened of people like Ariel Ruiz Urquiola. That is because people like him with intelligence, initiative, independence of thought and attractive personalities are the potential leaders of alternative political expression.
    The only answer for the repressive communist regime is to remove him from mixing with the rest of Cuban society.
    For those of my fellow contributors who support the Cuban communist regime, READ this article and refer back to the previous two about Ariel Ruiz Urquiola. Do you really approve of the repression of people with his level of courage? Speak up! This is the reality of what jon keller called “the Cuban experiment.”

  • Sr. Chaguaceda: Me encanta la “bio” de usted! Felicidades por su determinacion y su esfuerza. Soy una cubana del corazon, no del sangre. Por eso, que puedo hacer para apoyar el Sr. Ruiz? Puedo orar, pero hay que hacer mas, tangiblemente. Usted tiene algunas surgencias? Vivo en los eeuu en el noreste, el estado de Rhode Island, el mas pequeno en la union. Soy pastora presbiteriana jubilada, he estado en cuba 18 veces desde el 1995. Mi “sede” es Sagua La Grande, donde tengo una vida con muchas amistades. Gracias por su trabajo, senor.

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