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Orlando Bosch and the Politics of Academia

By Ariana Hernandez-Reguant, Conferences & CFPs, exile, Miami, Video - lecture and discussion Add comments

Oct 12 event at the UM. At the far left (wearing a tie), Orlando Bosch. Next to him, Enrique Ros (also with suit and tie), who is the father of Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Republican Congresswoman. On the far right, author and radio host Enrique Encinosa. (pic taken from the event’s website)

Colleague Isabel Alfonso, a graduate of the University of Miami, sent us this video of the October 12 event, along with her outrage. How is it possible that a bona fide University would sponsor a homage to Orlando Bosch? He is an extremely controversial figure, well known for his involvement in an airplane bombing; who at one point was convicted of terrorism by a U.S. court and who, according to the U.S. Attorney General’s Ofice, “for thirty years has been resolute and unwavering in his advocacy of terrorist violence.”  One thing is to invite an individual, in this case a witness of a history worth telling, a man already in his eighties, to tell his story, even to give his opinion and defend his views. But to stage a homage to his terrorist actions and activities that broke laws in several countries?

Here’s a clip:

The event, on the Escambray anti-revolutionary struggle, was technically organized by an Institute for the Cuban Historical Memory Against Totalitarianism, and merely took place AT the University of Miami’s Institute for Cuban and Cuban American Studies, as clearly stated on their event webpage. Nonetheless, both the Cuban and Cuban American Institute and the University lent their names and banners to the event as can be seen on the pictures. They were therefore sponsors. The Institute (which we link on our link-roll)  is a semi-independent entity that has never hidden its partisanship. It is directed by the very widely read historian Prof. Jaime Suchliki, and, even though it does not feature a proper board, it lists a number of UM faculty as contributors.

What is the line between political activism and academic indifference? Are there double or triple standards? Our colleague and former classmate, anthropologist Nick DeGenova, unfortunately lost his job at Columbia University for saying at a sit-in that the United States deserved “a million Mogadishus.” How is this any different? It is always dangerous to try to set limits to free speech, but one could argue that universities, as educational institutions, are in the business of educating citizens for democracy. A university needs to chose its role models -the individuals it honors- carefully and thoughtfully.

6 Responses to “Orlando Bosch and the Politics of Academia”

  1. Ethno Cuba » Blog Archive » Orlando Bosch and the Politics of Academia course university Says:

    […] posted here:  Ethno Cuba » Blog Archive » Orlando Bosch and the Politics of Academia By admin | category: University of MIAMI | tags: alumni-center, bona-fide, college, coral, […]

  2. Peruchin Says:

    If you draw the line between “political activism and academic indifference” where you seem to want it drawn for UM and Bosch, Ahmadinejad should never have been invited to lecture at Columbia, Bruce Ayers should never have set foot on the U of Illinois campus (much less been given a faculty appointment); ; etc. etc. etc. If this is the case, might as well throw out the notion of academia being a place where persons and/or perspectives that fall outside “acceptable societal norms” (whatever those are) can get an audience, or worse yet, just declare that academia is a place where only persons and/or perspectives that are acceptable to the accepted/prevailing views of the academy are welcome.

  3. ariana Says:

    Dear Peruchin, have you read the post? I am afraid you completely misunderstood. Absolutely, academia is a place where multiple views should be offered, a place for debate and critique. This post says that one thing is to invite an individual to speak and offer his views, and another one is to honor him for his accomplishments. I am wary of passing judgment on anyone, but as a person as controversial as this one, I would think that there is at least a debate about sponsoring a homage to him. This is ultimately about accountability. If a bona fide university wants to homage a convicted terrorist who still defends his violent actions, fine, but i would think that as a public institution, it owes the public an explanation.

  4. pryer Says:

    Here’s a recent article on this ongoing controversy:


  5. Honoring Terrorists at the University of Miami by Jim Ryerson « Dandelion Salad Says:

    […] http://etnocuba.ucr.edu/?p=3433 […]

  6. Ethno Cuba » Blog Archive » University of Miami Faculty Decries Homage to Orlando Bosch Says:

    […] few days ago, EthnoCuba denounced the homage to Orlando Bosch at the University of Miami. We were the first to do so, and subsequently, a letter of protest was […]

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