Ph.D. in Educational Sciences Aleida Best Rivero

Aleida is a melting pot, philosophically speaking. She is the essence of different cultures and people, ideas and stories that were not always happy but which she has managed to transform into inspiring life lessons until she has become what she is today, a Doctor in Educational Sciences and a tenured professor at the University of Las Tunas.

It is impossible to arrange an interview without calling her professor because, at 77 years of age, the daughter of a Barbadian father and Cuban mother has lived long enough to treasure in her eyes a wealth of memories that when she opens her black arms, declaiming or giving a lecture, it is as if a unique force springs from them, from a woman who is all Cuban spirit and love for art and teaching, her two great passions.

Then, talking to Aleida Best Rivero is one of those interviews that are done in the heat of the moment, as if not to lose the spark that ignites her voice, and even with the fear of taking away the richness of what she says, because she recalls every detail even when this inexperienced reporter has only asked one question for the Cuban News Agency.

"When a date like 26 July approaches, Aleida says, I will always remember that on a day like that, in 1953, when I was seven years old and living in the El Marabú neighborhood, I was able to learn from the halting words of some older people what had happened that morning of the Santa Ana."

"I can't forget a young man from that neighborhood, Jaime Enrique Ochoa, who was one of those who were in the struggles, and until years later I didn't understand why people whispered 'he's a political prisoner, he's a political prisoner'."

At that time, little Aleida was already living with her father after having lost her mother at the age of four and a half, and when she says, "My childhood was not happy", it is because she experienced firsthand what fate had in store for a black girl who, at the age of eight and in the fourth grade, had to become a domestic worker, which was then called a maid.

"I lived with my sister and worked in several houses here in the city of Las Tunas, until 1961 when I became part of one of the most transformative works of the Cuban Revolution, which triumphed in January 1959, and of the Moncada Programme, the Literacy Campaign."

"I began studying at the night school El Cucalambé, today the José de la Luz y Caballero semi-boarding school, to do my sixth grade, and once in the Campaign I went to Pontón, in Cauto el Paso, Granma, where I found a second family: the Capote Domínguez family," Aleida recounts with a parsimonious cadence like someone carefully leafing through the pages of a book that is still being written."

After the Literacy Campaign ended, she did not have the possibility of obtaining a scholarship and continued working as a domestic until 1963, when a neighbor found her a job as a teacher at the Osvaldo Herrera boarding school for girls, where the Mártires del 28 de Diciembre primary school is today, and she began her career as a teacher.

"That's where I started working. In 1965, I was already the National Vanguard of Primary Boarding School. I had the opportunity to attend the Emerging Teachers' Course in Biran and I remember one of the most beautiful things that happened to me from that experience when I was able to see and listen to our beloved Commander Fidel Castro."

After finishing the course, Aleida worked as a primary school teacher in a boarding school, then she was the director of a school center and also a teacher in a school, until 1973 when she went to work in the Technical Teaching Department in charge of Art Education at the municipal level.

"Throughout that period, I never stopped studying, I graduated as a primary school teacher, I was part of the first group in Las Tunas to study at higher education level and I became a history teacher for higher education."

In a humble tone, but in the knowledge of all that she has achieved, she says that in those years, from 1965 to 1975, the youth contributed with immense joy and commitment to the development of the province.

"I saw how the Revolution, which had opened the doors for everyone to study, was fulfilling the legacy of José Martí when he said: 'Every man has the right to be educated, and then in return, the duty to contribute to the education of others'."

"That is why, during all these years, I have tried to comply with that Martí precept, because I consider that I have done nothing compared to all that the Revolution did for me," says Aleida Best, who works as a professor in the Art Department of the Faculty of Social and Humanistic Sciences of the Tunisian house of high studies."

"The Revolution made me a teacher, and with my efforts, I became a doctor in Educational Sciences and a full professor at the aforementioned academy, where I continue to contribute so that others can become professionals in our country."

"That is my life, in honor of those who on 26 July 1953 gave theirs, those who continued the struggle until the definitive victory, and others who continue to this day defending the conquests."

Aleida Best is, without a doubt, a woman of victories; it is impossible to know her and not feel part of her way of celebrating her battles from the university classrooms, the communities, a poem by Nicolás Guillén, or simply from her daily actions, an impeccable teacher, an innate artist, an immense Cuban.