- In what year did you graduate in mathematics and where did you work?
El Ciro: In 2004 and I taught mathematics at the University as a student assistant for the last two years of my studies because it was my vocation and because of the lack of professors.
- What kind of relationship did you have with your students? Do you like to teach?
El Ciro: I liked very much giving classes and my relationship with my students was the best and still is.
- What exactly is the “Aval” [Certificate] and why didn’t they give it to you?
El Ciro: The Certificate we’re talking about is a qualification that expresses the opinion of the faculty that guarantees your ability to teach classes in a center of higher education and, at least in my case, those in charge of granting me the Certificate were the Young Communist League (UJC) and the Dean. When I found out (for the third time) that they weren’t going to give me the Certificate it was an insult because all of the evaluations I’d received during the time I was teaching classes were good. So I let them know this and then they informed me that I didn’t meet the political requirements to get the Certificate.
- Your students wrote letters asking that you continue to teach at the university. Was there any response to this request from the students?
El Ciro: My students wrote letters where they gave their opinion about my work; I naively thought that presenting these letters to the higher levels would correct the injustice, but it turned out that they ignored them and that the only response I received was from the leader of the Young Communist League, who argued that there were people more qualified than me for this work. Curiously, these people were Wilfredo Morales and Celia Tamara, the only members of the Young Communist League in my entire class, with much lower academic qualifications than I have and much less talent, to be honest.
- How did you learn you couldn’t teach? How did you feel? How many were in the same situation as you?
El Ciro: I tried to find work in other schools such as UCI (University of Information Sciences) and CUJAE (Jose Antonio Echeverria Polytechnic) and they received me with fanfare because of the scarcity of professors, the low salaries and the huge workload. But in the end the answer was the same: you don’t have the Certificate. That year there were five of us without the Certificate: Sergio, Hans, Yohana, Adriana and me.
- If you could work again as a university professor, would you do it?
El Ciro: I’d gladly teach classes in higher education.
This is an excerpt to a version of the song, Epitaph for Vladimir Visotski by Karsmarski Jacek (Polish dissident songwriter), which includes Ciro Diaz in his latest album, The Blue Slug, that I listened to compulsively for at least two months, especially on the street with my mp3 inherited from a friend who now has an I-pod. (Download the lyrics here) (Download the recording and album cover here) The song (in summary, which runs about ten minutes) is about a desperate artist going through the circles of hell in search of an answer or death, and at the end of his journey there is only loneliness and the weight of the supreme power above himself. So I found myself at times catching the bus across Havana at 12 noon in August under the perennial sunshine and with the distressing feeling of not going anywhere, or arriving too late, or going for pleasure ... I feel that I have already arrived at the eighth enclosure (this is the finale of the song) where there is nothing, and I feel useless and empty, and I look at people without faith who walk along the street and who have so much fear that they no longer know they're afraid, and who have seen so many Roundtables and so many news broadcasts that they no longer know what belongs to reality or just to the TV screen. They cannot discern that they no longer believe, but cannot disbelieve either, and just move along past me not going anywhere.