University of Havana

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Group.png University of Havana  
Universitad habana.jpg
Formation5 January 1728
Biggest and oldest university on Cuba

The University of Havana or UH (in Spanish, Universidad de La Habana) is a university located in the Vedado district of Havana, the capital of the Republic of Cuba. Founded on January 5, 1728, the university is the oldest in Cuba, and one of the first to be founded in the Americas (the oldest, National University of San Marcos, was founded in Lima in 1551). Originally a religious institution, today the University of Havana has 15 faculties (colleges) at its Havana campus and distance learning centers throughout Cuba.[1]

After the government was taken over by Fulgencio Batista in 1952, the University became a center of anti-government protests. Batista closed the University in 1956. The Castro administration re-opened the university in 1959. From January 1, 1959, the date on which the revolutionaries seized power in Cuba, until January 1, 1962, the University went through a period of reformation to eliminate "anti-revolutionary ideas".

Student organizations

Before the Cuban Revolution of 1959, students joined different organizations, aligning themselves directly or indirectly with some political party. The strongest of all these organizations was the FEU (Federación Estudiantíl Universitaria or University Students Federation) created by Julio Antonio Mella, a co-founder of the Cuban Communist Party in the 1920s. The European revolutionary tradition of college-based political activism that was practiced in Cuba and in many other Latin American countries and the alleged corruption of Cuban political parties at the time turned the FEU, a stronghold of communist ideology, into the most influential of Cuban political organizations before 1959. It was a major participant in the overthrowing of the Cuban President Gerardo Machado. The FEU initiated the national general strike of 1933, resulting in the imprisonment of many of its members. Founder Julio Antonio Mella, himself had been killed at the hands of two assassins sent by Machado while exiled in Mexico in 1929

After the coup d'état by Fulgencio Batista in 1952, when free and democratic elections were suspended, the violent clashes between university students and Cuban police reached their extremes. Students known to be members of the FEU were violently tortured and killed in the streets of Havana, and the organization reacted with an irregular war in the city, aiming mainly to assassinate police officers of high rank, like the chief of the police in Havana, Blanco Rico, who was killed by 4 FEU members. After the assault on the Moncada barracks by Fidel Castro, an attorney who graduated from Havana University School of Law, and who had contacts in the FEU, the FEU became an ally of Castro's new July 26th Movement, though there were discrepancies between the leaders in the form that the forthcoming revolution should be carried out. While Fidel Castro was hiding in the Sierra Maestra mountains, the FEU, led by Jose Antonio Echeverria, attempted to kill Fulgencio Batista in an armed assault at the Cuban Presidential Palace on March 13, 1957. Batista managed to escape, and many student assailants died in the action, as did Echeverria himself. During the months that followed, the police executed many of the students that led the failed coup. President Batista ordered the university to be closed, and it remained so until Batista fled the country and Fidel Castro entered Havana in January 1959.


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