Penn State University announced that it will remove a quote from Cuban dictator Fidel Castro following a protest initiated by a student fleeing socialism in Venezuela.
Erik Suarez, a Venezuelan student majoring in international politics and economics, initiated a campaign condemning the fact that a campus building had a quote from the Cuban tyrant on it, praising the man who publicly became a dictator and human rights violator.
The quote from the Cuban tyrant was on display in Penn State’s HUB Paul Robeson Cultural Center, a building that provides resources for students.
“A few days ago I posted about how my university @penn_state had a wall in a university office area with a Fidel Castro quote. Today I can happily say that there will be no more Fidel Castro at Penn State,” Suarez wrote through his Twitter account.
The initiative of the Venezuelan, who fled the socialism established by the regimes of Hugo Chávez and Nicolás Maduro, arose at the same time that the massive protests against the Cuban regime began in Cuba.
Suarez initiated the protest through social networks and then, after rallying student leaders, sent a letter to Penn State’s President Eric Barron, who responded in less than 24 hours to the request.
“The people of Cuba have spoken by chanting in the streets all across the island the same message “Freedom.” Here at Penn State we must join their calls in support of freedom doing the little we can to support the Cuban people in their struggle: getting rid of the figure and dissemination of Castro’s image on campus buildings,” the letter reads.
“If Penn State truly values freedom and prosperity, then it must address the presence of Fidel Castro’s deception because it only acts to misrepresent those values that we enshrine as a community and university,” it states.
Barron responded within hours, announcing the removal of the mural glorifying the tyrant:
“The university agrees with the concerns you and others have expressed and the quote is being removed,” the university said in a statement. “We also reached out directly to the student who expressed concern that this was the university’s decision,” the institution said.
“In the USA there is a culture that seeks made socialism to seem politically correct”
To learn more about the initiative, El American contacted Erik Suarez, who stated that in the United States there is a culture to make socialism to seem politically correct.
Suarez noted that as a victim of the collectivist system he suffered indignation when he saw that his university had a mural to treat Castro as a positive influencer.
“When I read the phrase I was outraged, it was a shock, I never imagined that in an American university I would read a mural of the dictator who inspired the cruelest regimes in our region including Cuba and Venezuela,” Suarez told El American.
The protests in Cuba motivated me to raise my voice and make a formal complaint with the university; I made a call through social networks first to get support and when we got together we drafted the letter to the president of the university and in less than 24 hours they gave us the good news that they would remove the quote,” he said.
Suarez said that anyone who does not truly know who Fidel Castro was could have been fooled by the mural at the university.
“It is a phrase that you read and do not see anything negative, if you do not know Fidel Castro, if you do not know all the damage he caused, it can deceive you; but actually he was one of the cruelest violators of human rights, he was one of the longest-lived dictators that the region has had in all history,” he recalled.
The young man emphasized that currently in the United States there are social movements that seek to make socialism to seem politically correct without arguments: “they have no arguments against us because we have lived through communism, we are victims of these regimes”, he claimed.
“Sometimes we are afraid to raise our voices for fear of what others might think, especially because there is a culture here in the United States where they are trying to encourage and make socialism to seem politically correct”; the important thing is that we are right because we did live socialism in our own flesh and that is why we fled,” he said.
The increase of protests against the regime in Cuba provoked confrontations between American politicians. On the one hand, Republican legislators pressured Biden to take immediate measures to support the opposition demonstrations; on the other hand, some progressives, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), and Senator Bernie Sanders, advocated for the end of the trade embargo favoring the tyranny of Miguel Díaz-Canel.