By Eriberto Liranza Romero
President of the Cuban Youth Movement for Democracy
I am Cuban, but as a youth leader I feel compelled to share my point of view, and why not, to send a message to the Chilean government and, especially, to the thousands of young people who are out on the street demanding an improvement of their countries’ education system. The Cuban Youth Movement for Democracy has kept up to date with the news regarding the young Chileans. Since we are closed off in our island-prison, we cannot be as informed as we wish to be. It is only through foreign publications, which are very scarce, that every once in a while we can find out what is happening outside of our own country.
It is truly painful that after such a heroic display of solidarity and love on behalf of the Chilean government in order to save 33 miners who were trapped after a copper mining accident, now the images of that government and those people are pushed aside amid student protests.
It is time that the administration of Sebastian Pinera find a solution to this conflict. We have read, in the free press, that the students are demanding just things from their government. What is not just is that marginal neighborhoods have worse academic conditions and enrollment in comparison with well-off neighborhoods. The Chilean government cannot allow the death of some of these youths who are on hunger strike. They have shown that they love their country and that they are firm in their convictions.
This situation can only benefit extreme-left totalitarian regimes, which without a doubt take advantage of such events to launch their own media campaigns against the democratic government of Pinera. Surely, they have already gotten their hands on the opportunists of his cabinet who intend to morph the real motives of the protests. It would be a triumph for democracy and a good example for the civilized world if the government would grant the logical demands of the students.
We favor a public education system under the government and NGOs which protect the students from political manipulations. We also favor a private education, if someone wishes to pay for a school that fits their interests, whether they be political, social, or religious. Regardless, the constant inspections from the government towards these private centers must be present, in order to remind the owners of the schools that they do not own the future of the country.
We believe that students are exaggerating with the demand to nationalize education in Chile. It is fine that they demand more funds for public schools under the control of the government. But nationalizing all schools would be fatal for education. This would turn schools into centers of ideological indoctrination for future governments. Education in Cuba is state-run, centralized, and responds to the agenda of the Communist Party, the only legalized (and in power) political party in the country. Despite being “free for everyone”, the reality is that there is a very high rate of poor academic performance, a disastrous civic disinformation, child prostitution, a high level of alcohol and drug consumption, and corrupted professors. That is the result of an education under the tight control of the state. They are evils which daily deform the future generations.
I would ask the Chilean youth that, for the sake of democracy, they do not cease their demands on the streets and that they continue pressuring the government so that their demands be heard, but do not fall into anarchy, and do not allow leftist-fascist opportunists and populists to convert their genuine concerns for the Chilean youth into a political mess. Never forget that freedom of expression is the product of democracy.