Students at the University of Havana Strike to Restore Doctoral Degrees 1892

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Timing
Time Period:  
March
1892
to
September
1892
Location and Goals
Country: 
Cuba
Location City/State/Province: 
Havana, Cuba
Location Description: 
Havana University
Goals: 
To restore Doctoral degrees at the University of Havana.
 

In 1892, students at Havana University in Cuba (then called The Royal University at Havana) staged a strike in protest of the suspension of Doctoral degrees from the University. The student campaign took place from mid-March to mid-September and utilized striking, letters and public exhibitions comprised of notes displayed on the school walls as acts of nonviolent protest. During this time of the campaign, the president of the University of Havana was Joaquín Francisco Lastres y Juiz, whom the student activists held accountable for the suspension of Doctoral Degrees. The other opposition to the campaign was Romero Robledo, the Colonial Secretary of Cuba at the time.

During his term, Robledo released the Royal Decree (also known as the Robledo Decree), which cut government funding for Universities. The loss of funds from the Decree decreased employee salaries at Havana University, and indirectly caused the administration to fire at least twelve employees. In trying to configure the new budget, Juiz also cut PhD programs. However, some faculty members continued to offer PhD classes to students without authorization.

In March 1892, over three hundred undergraduate students participated in the first student strike in the University of Havana’s history, which lasted for a total of seven weeks. The students stopped attending classes, and Juiz made a speech encouraging students to stop protesting and return to classes. He also instructed faculty members to encourage their students to come back to school. In response to Juiz’s actions, students expressed their frustration by posting notes, which expressed their discontent, on the University walls.

In September 1892, the Foreign Minister called for the repeal of the Robledo Decree, Havana University was able to reinstate Doctoral Degrees, and students returned to school after a six-month strike. The nonviolent actions of students were part of the larger Popular Revolutionary Movement for National Liberation. As part of the movement, students at multiple universities protested different instances of government policies privileging the United States over Cuba, usually economically, and supported Martí’s movement for independence from Spain. Marti lead the revolution because he did not want the U.S. to annex Cuba before they could become independent from Spain. José Martí spearheaded the movement, by publishing his first newspaper, El Periódico Patrio, in 1892, which incited students to take action by bringing attention to what he called, “La necesidad de transformar el alto centro de estudio,” (The need to transform the center of higher education).

Research Notes
Influences: 

(1) The students at the University of Havana were influenced by José Martí's newspaper, El Periódico Patria, and other works by him.

Sources: 
Anon. n.d. “Historia De La FEU.” <i>FEU Moron: Sitio de los Estudiantes de Ciencias Medicas de Moron</i>. Retrieved October 25, 2015 (https://web.archive.org/web/20151025140801/http://feumoron.cubava.cu/historia-de-la-feu/).

Bartkowski, Maciej J. 2013. “Cuba: Nonviolent Strategies For Autonomy and Independence, 1810s-1902.” Pp. 319–36 in <i>Recovering nonviolent history: civil resistance in liberation struggles</i>. Boulder, Colorado: Lynne Reiner Publishers.

Castellanos, Pilar M. and Francisco M. Gonzales. 2009. “Datos Biográficos De Los Profesores De La Facultad De Farmacia En La Real Universidad De La Habana. Plan De 1880.” <i>SciElo</i>. Retrieved October 25, 2015 (https://web.archive.org/web/20151025140302/http://scielo.sld.cu/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&amp;pid=s0034-75152009000200012).

Castellanos, Pilar M. and Francisco M. Gonzales. 2005. “Reorganización De La Enseñanza En La Universidad De La Habana Según El Último Plan De Estudios De Su Etapa Colonial (Plan De 1880).” <i>SciElo</i>. Retrieved October 25, 2015 (https://web.archive.org/web/20151025140609/http://scielo.sld.cu/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&amp;pid=s0034-75152008000300012).

Additional Notes: 
The nonviolent actions of students were part of the larger Popular Revolutionary Movement for National Liberation.
Name of researcher, and date dd/mm/yyyy: 
Celine Anderson 25/10/15