A good rider should not let go the reins of his horse, nor a free man his rights. It is true that it is easier to be led than to lead, but it is also more dangerous.
Castro had already removed more than a third of the "unreliable" professors. Viewed university autonomy as a festering sore which was coming to a head in student federation elections.
The student elections gave him an opportunity to avenge past grievances.
Fidel Castro would permit no independent student government, and he knew that Boitel could win any free election. On the morning of the balloting - Saturday, October 17 - Revolucion published a statement from the prime minister, calling for unity in the ranks of the revolutionaries. The sole division in Cuba, he said whether among peasants, workers, or students, must be between those who stood with the revolution and those who opposed it. There was no middle ground, no neutrality. If the country's laborers worked nine hours a day, if the peasants tilled the fields from sunup to sundown, surely the students could make sacrifices as well, he said. Instead of fighting among themselves, they should give each other a "revolutionary embrace," should proclaim a president unanimously and unite in a true plan of reform that could be carried out with no delay. The Maximum Leader's intent came through loud and clear. Boitel immediately withdrew his candidacy.
Yet many students defied the prime minister and cast their votes for Boitel anyway. He carried five of the thirteen schools. Cubelas took office on October 20 and began to savor the perquisites of revolutionary power. He appointed thirteen friends as paid secretaries with duties in fields of foreign affairs, social and economic relations, and industries and culture. He wore tailored uniforms and drove a large automobile. He also assigned cars to his friends. Though a power at the university, he was rarely on campus. He was seen most often driving around Havana with women of "dubious reputation." On October 28 the university council accepted a system of co-government with the FEU leaders. In reality the professors and deans had lost their authority to make decisions and served only as a conduit to transmit information to the cabinet. Castro had destroyed democracy and autonomy on the university campus.
A year later Boitel was sentenced to a long prison term for "anti-revolutionary" crimes. He arrived at the prison carrying a large crucifix. It was taken from him. He died on a hunger strike. In 1966 Cubelas too went to prison, charged with planning to assassinate the Maximum Leader.