CENTRE COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) – An international student’s outcry has not only been heard but answered.
Erik Suarez recently requested that Penn State University remove a quote by Fidel Castro from a campus building.
“It was very shocking, very discouraging to see that a character like him was being displayed on my school,” said Suarez.
Fidel Castro was a former Cuban prime minister and president, who Suarez says is a figure of totalitarianism and oppression; something that personally hits home.
“I’m a victim of socialism in Venezuela, and he was the inspiration to establish the regime of my country,” said Suarez.
According to Suarez, Castro sparked the beginning of a cruel dictatorship that Cubans are currently still protesting to this day.
“I had to speak up, I knew I wasn’t alone,” said Suarez.
Posting the quote and his concerns to social media, it didn’t take long for people to show him, that he wasn’t.
Victoria Medina says she personally connects with Suarez.
“My grandparents, they fled from Spain. They were under Franco and came here to provide the best type of life for me and my family,” shared Medina.
John Stafford who’s a part of ‘Young Americans for Freedom (YAFF) also stands with Suarez.
“It’s time that people start hearing these stories because at the end of the day we’re fighting for everyone. We’re fighting for every student on campus, for every student who will come to Penn State, to realize that these evils that have harmed people for years need to be heard and they need to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” said Stafford.
With an army of supporters, the students wasted no time in drafting up a letter and sending it directly to President Barron.
“The response was really quick. Took less than 24 hours,” said Suarez.
The response was from the Vice President for Administration, Frank Guadagnino. The email read, “The University agrees with the concerns you and others have expressed and the quote is being removed.”
Suarez says it felt great to know their voices were heard.
“That was a big victory for us. That was very motivating to know that the university backs us, that the university has our back,” said Suarez.
But Suarez says the win, is just the beginning.
“This is just the tip of the iceberg, we’re fighting for something bigger. This is about human rights. We want to raise awareness about what’s going on, and teach our fellow students who may not know the dangers of communism,” said Suarez.
Sign up for the WTAJ Newsletter for the latest local news, weather and community events that matter to you.