Daisy Valera

Sculpture of Jose Marti at Havana's Superior Institute of Art (ISA). Photo: Caridad

A video recently fell into my hands on the events that occurred about three months ago at ISA (the Superior Institute of Art).

This came to me through means more efficient than Cuban television, which instead of being a medium of enlightenment can wind up being a medium of disinformation.

The video was a recording of a demonstration that took place in the dining hall of the institute, where approximately 60 students protested the food services there.

All these students were demanding to speak with the institute’s president, and even with the minister of Culture, because they felt they could not continue attending classes on diets of only five spoonfuls of peas, five spoonfuls of rice and two of vegetable protein.

They were protesting because they could not carry out the physical exercises that were required for their courses on the little food they received.  In addition, they didn’t understand why other of the nation’s schools —like the University of Computer Sciences (UCI)— were more privileged.

The youth of ISA stayed in the dining hall the entire night awaiting responses to their complaints, though they constantly emphasized that this was not a sit in or a strike.

The time passed amid singing, dancing and plays.

When the president of the university showed up to speak to the students, it was like the end of a bad movie.  The arguments he used were the very type that fail to help the students.  One that was heard was the moth-eaten phrase that youth don’t know history and that’s why we complain.

Although the meals for students at ISA still haven’t improved, something was in fact won: the consciousness that we’re obligated to demand explanations when we don’t understand what is happening, which is the true form of building socialism.

Like the students chanted at ISA, “The future belongs to us”; and only with all of us can we make it better.


Daisy Valera

Daisy Valera:Soil scientist and blogger. I write from Mexico City, where Havana sometimes becomes so small that it disappears. However in others, the Cuban capital is a city so past and present that it steals your breath.

One thought on “Battle at the Art Institute

  • Meanwhile, over-weight middle-class women up here pay thousands of dollars per week to attend the weight loss program at the Green Mountain Spa at Fox Run. Seems like it would be much less expensive for them to fly down to Habana and eat in the cafeteria of the Instituto Superior de Arte. Then again, you’d have to take away all their CUC’s so they wouldn’t have a “relapse” at the nearest palador.

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