That's my problem with this Brown University program. I know I'm supposed to think that it's wonderful that students will be studying in Cuba, getting to know the culture, yada, yada, yada. As one of the professors indicates, the political has gotten in the way of the academic.
Alas, in Cuba everything is political. And to say that ten students going down and attending classes taught by Cuban professors is not is disingenuous at best. Those same professors can not offer an opinion, a point of analysis, or even a fact not in keeping with the official party line. Therefore, let's dispense with the free and open exchange of ideas. It is a myth. There can be no free and open anything in a society that is enslaved.
Too often, well-intentioned Americans go to Cuba on one high-minded program or another; get treated to the socialist theme park that is the face Cuba presents to the world, particularly high-minded intellectuals; accept blindly falsehoods and pretenses they would not dream of swallowing without question in this country; and return parroting regime propaganda, attempting to influence American policy, convinced that they know Cuban reality.
The only true learning the Brown students will be doing will be what they, like everyone else in Cuba, read between the lines. And that's an awful slim hope on which to pin foreign policy.
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