About 50 Cuban independent journalists this week received certificates marking their graduation from a journalism course provided by Florida International University via teleconference at the U.S. Interest Section in Havana.
Not only did the students successfully complete the 4-month curriculum, but they also withstood blistering attempts by the Castro dictatorship's secret police to derail their studies. Numerous of the students have been arrested and detained over the past several months, as part of a government campaign to get them to drop the course.
The students are not easily swayed.
"Independent journalism on the island is done by people who try to fight the control of information by the government," journalist Manuel Guerra Pérez wrote in a dispatch about the June 10 graduation ceremonies.
The United States government should be commended for support the program, as independent journalists unafraid to following a story no matter where it leads, are key to help Cubans develop a new civil society. I only wish American diplomats in Havana had been more forceful in response to efforts by the Cuban regime to spike the students' studies.