This past March 26 (coincidently the date Cuba celebrates State Security Day) the first part of my trial took place in the Municipal Court.
In it, I am taking legal action against what I consider an unjust and arbitrary measure taken by the administration of the university where I taught.
I had never been in a courtroom before; it was quite small with long wooden benches, like in the movies. The judges and lawyers were dressed in long black gowns, which I imagine must be hot as hell in the summer.
The atmosphere seemed to be one of justice and equity, though the energetic manner in which lawyer on “their side” presented their accusations did indeed provoke a bit of fear in me. To him, this wasn’t merely a matter of law, but a moral question that was in the balance… He spoke like someone who had been grievously offended by all the impertinences of such a snotty brat – and that brat was me.
Nevertheless, they were not able to break me psychologically, because both inside and outside the courtroom were groups of people supporting me. There weren’t many, around fifteen I would say, but I could not have hoped for better company.
Those on “my side” stayed until the end to accompany me out. We lingered a while talking about what had happened… it was, in short, a good chance for everyone involved and willing to support me to meet each other, even when things begin to look ugly.
The institution, for its part, also invited a group of workers. A bus from the university shuttled in a group of professors, though one of them personally admitted to me that he didn’t know why he was there. His superiors had entrusted him with the mission of attending, and so he did. I had to shed light on what the case was really about (my version of course).
An incident happened with another professor. When I reached out to shake the hand of this gentleman, who was until recently the head of the teachers union, he responded to me scornfully saying, “How can you dare try to shake my hand? Have you no shame for the embarrassing situation you’re putting this institution in?”
Later a student recounted to me that that this same professor -who in the same tone and with the most varied arguments- had tried to convince him not to support me. “They seem terrified,” that student later commented to me.
Concretely, in this part of the trial (the next one will be on April 17), I was accused of not teaching the school’s Studies Program. “The Program of Studies of the subject Philosophy and Society,” the lawyer said, “is a document created under the direct oversight of the Central Committee of the Party, due to the political importance of this subject. Therefore under no circumstance can it be modified by the professors who teach the subject.”
This accusation is debatable to me, because I believe I did everything possible to accommodate such a document. From what I can see, It doesn’t look like there will be a philosophical analysis of my classes by an impartial expert appointed by the jury, which is what I really would have preferred.
They are also accusing me of missing classes, which is false, and for all of that violating the work contract and not fulfilling the concrete tasks of a professor – which are not true.
Lastly, they accuse me of changing the bibliography established by the Central Committee of the Party for one that I liked, which also is not true (though, admittedly, I would have loved to have done that).
Other elements necessary to follow the sequence of this story can be read in previous pages of this blog. For those of you that read Spanish and would like to have a look at the content of my classes you can click here:
- Lecture 1 (Spanish)
- Lecture 2 (Spanish)
- Lecture 3 (Spanish)
- Lecture 4 (Spanish)
- Lecture 5 (Spanish)
- Lecture 6 (Spanish)
- Lecture 7 (Spanish)
- Lecture 8 (Spanish)
After the 17th, I’ll finish the story, when the trial has concluded.