Act of Repudiation
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    Cuban Government Lashes Out At Scholarships For Young Cubans In The United States

    Cuban Government Lashes Out At Scholarships For Young Cubans In The
    United States / 14ymedio, Zunilda Mata

    14ymedio, Zunilda Mata, Havana, 25 September 2016 — The ideological
    battle of officialdom has a new enemy: the scholarships offered by the
    American organization World Learning to young Cubans between 16 and 18
    years of age. In Cuban secondary schools and universities in recent
    days, the morning assemblies have “condemned and protested strongly”
    against what the state media describe as an “imperial maneuver.”

    National television has provided extensive coverage of acts of
    “revolutionary reaffirmation” in which it criticizes the summer program
    offered by the US non-profit organization for citizens living on the
    island. An ideological onslaught of a kind that hasn’t been seen since
    the campaign for the release of the five Cuban spies who were imprisoned
    in the United States.

    For two years, World Learning has offered four-week scholarships,
    between July and August, for Cuban secondary and university students.
    The organization aims to develop young people’s “skills in areas that
    include public speaking, teamwork, business, developing consensus,
    conflict resolution, defending their own rights, and problem solving.”

    An agenda that Cuba’s officialdom has called “hostile and
    interventionist.” The president of the Federation of Students in
    Intermediate Education (FEEM), Suzanne Santiesteban, called for acts of
    repudiation against the program in secondary and higher education
    schools across the country. In the coming days 460 of these rallies will
    be held.

    During its two years of existence, the scholarship program has become
    very popular among Cuban teenagers and the call for applications for the
    2016 session was widely distributed by alternative information networks.
    “Everyone talked about it in the hallways and between classes,” says
    Fabian, a 17-year-old high school student in the city of Pinar del Rio.

    “People were very excited, because it was a chance to travel with all
    expenses paid and to learn about another reality,” the young man
    commented to this newspaper. Although he explained that he decided not
    to apply for a scholarship because his father is a member of the
    Communist Party and in meetings of the party base “they are warned them
    that they could lose their membership card” if they allowed their
    children to travel to the United States through World Learning.

    Now, the official condemnation has emerged from the Party circles and
    extended to the classrooms, where potential applicants for the
    scholarships are studying. In an effort to cut short the enthusiasm
    about the program, Suzanne Santiesteban charges that the organization
    receives financing from the United States Agency for International
    Development (USAID), which she classifies as a “known tool of subversion.”

    “We can sense their annoyance in the air,” said Yadira Machado, mother
    of a 16-year-old who wants to take advantage of the scholarship next
    summer. “I told my son to turn a deaf ear to all that, because it is the
    opportunity of his life,” said the woman, who lives in Havana’s 10 de
    Octubre district.

    However, not everyone in Machado’s house shares her opinion. The young
    man’s grandfather believes that the US NGO is “pulling in kids to turn
    them into counterrevolutionaries.” An opinion consistent with the
    warnings from the authorities, which calls the World Learning initiative
    a “new strategy” by the White House focused on the younger generation.

    The rejection of scholarships for young people has come with several
    articles in the official press that also attack Cuba’s new independent
    media. The “new counterrevolution needs a new press,” a well-known State
    Security agent declares. The ideological onslaught appears to just be
    getting underway.

    Source: Cuban Government Lashes Out At Scholarships For Young Cubans In
    The United States / 14ymedio, Zunilda Mata – Translating Cuba –

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