Radio Havana Cuba | Cuban students gather on the steps of the University of Havana for Palestine

Photo by Ed Newman (Radio Havana Cuba)


Havana, May 4 (RHC)–Contrary to the scenario that has unfolded on college campuses in the US, where student camps in support of the Palestinian people face police violence and attacks by provocateurs, the University of Havana held a rally on Friday in solidarity with Gaza and in line with Cuba’s unwavering support for the Palestinian people, which Fidel forged with Yasser Arafat shortly after the revolution.

Since its inception, the Latin American School of Medicine (ELAM) has opened its doors to young Palestinians who want to realize their dream of becoming doctors. More than a hundred Palestinians, many from the Gaza Strip, are currently studying medicine in Cuba, both at ELAM and at other universities in the country.

The comparison of what the courageous students on more than 80 college campuses across the US went through to clearly express their opposition to the US-sponsored genocide (with more than 2,300 of them arrested, according to The New York Times), and what happened here unfolded in Havana on Friday could not have been grimmer.

Here the iconic steps leading to the Alma Mater statue at the entrance to the university were filled with Palestinians who live and go to school here, Cuban students who attended the university, Cuban athletes, members of the military, musicians including Raúl Torres, Marcos David Fernández and international Cuban artists Buena Fe, community members and their families and solidarity groups who have been here for the International May Day celebration. All stood enthusiastically cheering and singing, shoulder to shoulder for Palestine.

Watan Jamil Alabed, a Palestinian doctor who graduated in Cuba, exclaimed to the crowd: “The students are at the forefront and they believe in the victory of our cause because they know that fighting for Palestine is the same as fighting for the world.”

He was followed by Shaquille Fontenot, co-chair of the National Network on Cuba (NNOC) in the United States. She demanded that President Joe Biden “stop spending money on wars and use it for health care and the much-needed construction of affordable homes for our people.”

Miriam Nicado, President of the University of Havana, also welcomed the crowd on behalf of the institution. Like all institutions in Cuba, their solidarity with Palestine is impeccable and contrasts dramatically with that of most American university administrations.

Take, for example, Minouche Shafik, president of Columbia University, who was called to testify at an April 17 hearing in the U.S. Congress about the “unrest” on campus. After receiving her marching orders, Shafik returned to New York and the next day unleashed swarms of New York City police to forcibly arrest the students.

Friday’s event was organized by the Federation of Cuban Students (FEU), which will conduct a campaign next week with events across the country to reaffirm solidarity with the Palestinian people and with the oppressed students demonstrating for Palestine.