By Juan Morales Agüero
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
Social Workers considered this social problem in territorial evaluations and agreed that it has to be faced by all factors.
Las Tunas.-Nationwide, 2008 was the best year ever with regard to the reintegration and incorporation of young people to classrooms or workplaces. But, it has not yet reached all young people who neither do one, nor the other.
This statement was made by Enrique Gomez Cabezas, head of the social workers program in the country, during the provincial assembly of these professionals. The assembly analyzed the performance of this important program of the Revolution during 2008.
The most debated issue was, without doubt, young people who neither study nor work. Participants made a profound analysis and agreed that it needs a multi-factor approach. This is logical, because it is an issue that has a high priority today.
“We need to establish a link with the community, so that the different factors can keep us informed in a permanent and rapid way of the situation of the universe of their young people,” said Gomez Cabeza. He added that the work has to be personalized because there are no two cases alike. “Until we achieve this, we won’t have arrived at total results “, he said.
An aspect of the problem that received particular attention during the evaluation was the time period in which the identified cases must be dealt with. It is not enough to have the names of the young people in this situation. What is urgently needed is to work with them and resolve their situation.
Edgar Fernandez, from the municipality of Jesús Menéndez, took the floor to clarify that social workers have an enormous job before them regarding unemployed young people. He added that lots of creativity is needed to deal with it. And, that it depends on the links established with the family and the environment of the young person in question.
Cabeza Gomez took the floor again to remind participants that to have the healthy, just society we want to build, we can not have people that do not contribute anything to the country in terms of employment. He added that, in fact, many cases are very difficult and seemingly impossible to solve, but you can not dismiss anyone. We need to detect, identify and take care of them. “You have to be the social microscopes Fidel spoke about,” he said.
Yariri Torres, from the Amancio municipality, spoke about the usefulness of accompanying former prisoners throughout the process of getting jobs. She said former prisoners appreciate the presence of a social worker when they begin their new life in a workshop, a cooperative, or in any another job.
In a special intervention Deibis Garcia, provincial director of Labor, said that follow up is just as important as identifying and taking care of unemployed youths. If after the young person is studying or working, he doesn’t continue and gives up, then that defeat will be charged to our account.
By Marina Mendez Quintero
May 27 2009 00:25:17 GMT
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
Because we have become accustomed to living with an arrogance that has triggered two wars, it doesn’t surprise us that Washington has allotted itself the prerogative of including countries, organizations or innocent people in its “terrorist” lists.
But what is really unbelievable and is apparently an escalade into the absurd is that one of those people (without even having been notified of such charges!) has been forced in two consecutive instances to change the course of a trip because he “has been forbidden” to fly over United States territory.
Mind you, we are not talking about touching or stepping on [US soil]: it is simply the act of passing a thousand feet above it. Even when the subject- of course, unarmed! – and, without looking down, is only reading a newspaper, comfortably sitting in an airplane.
Now, sitting in front of the reporter, with that clear and candid smile that always accompanies the Colombian journalist and researcher Hernando Calvo Ospina, “the defendant” is still surprised.
“Nobody understands it, and I still do not understand it. I can not understand how they came up with this “level of hazard”, they have assigned me.
The first time was April 18 last, and the news spread like wildfire, turning into a scandal. Perhaps you read it in this same newspaper: an Air France plane full of passengers, in a Paris-Mexico route, had to change course in mid-flight because the U.S. did not allow it to fly across its territory. The reason they gave was that one of the passengers was a person who constituted “a threat to its national security”.
The change of course happened when we were reaching Mexico. It lengthened the trip and took the passengers to an unexpected excursion to Martinique. This was because the fuel they had was not enough to take all those turns and the plane had to be refueled. Some children got sick and vomited, and many adults arrived finally in Mexico with leg cramps.
The person most surprised was Calvo Ospina himself when they told him he was the cause of the detour. He was the ‘unwelcome” person in the air above the U.S.
The worst thing is that this strange situation repeated itself, more or less the same, a few days ago.
He was traveling to Havana from Paris, where he resides, and three hours before boarding the phone rang. ‘Hernando Calvo Ospina? This is Air France calling. We can not let you board the plane because it will pass through U.S. airspace to enter Cuba’. These were more or less the words they used.
They changed the tickets and “sent” him via Madrid.
Calvo Ospina now wonders whether Air France gives U.S. authorities the passenger lists of its company’s flights that will cross U.S airspace.
– What will you do when you get back to Paris?
– First, I have to ask Air France for an explanation. But I think I will sue them and-most importantly- the United States on the issue of my image.
– How do you feel, a man like you, who has fought terrorism for so long, and is now in one of those lists?
– Look, it’s a very difficult situation because one already knows what they could do: put me in prison, torture me. But, the thing is. You think: What did I do that was so bad? I’ve never shot a gun! I have spoken with the French authorities, and they also do not understand it. I can not understand it either. Are there other games going on under the table to put pressure on someone through me? Where or whom? It is the first time in the history of Air France that this happens, there is no precedent.
“French authorities also did not understand that the course of the plane was altered when president Obama was meeting with almost all Latin American presidents (Summit of the Americas), and told them: ‘We are going to change our ways, we will respect. “
– Why do you think you were included?
– What I have been able to find out from colleagues and friends, is that there seems to be four reasons: the articles I have published against the Colombian government, the articles I’ve done against the U.S. policy towards Latin America, my relationships and interviews with the leaders of Colombian guerrillas, and my relations with countries ‘hostile’ to the U.S.
“Now, I do not know which Latin American countries are hostile to the U.S., because what I do know is that the U.S. is the one who has been hostile to several Latin American countries. But I do not think that these four “reasons” are enough to justify all the things that happened.”
I did not ask him what route he will use to return to France … In any case, Hernando Calvo Ospina has a clear conscience. His only arsenals are the dozens of articles where he has denounced many of the White House dirty policies, and a dozen books in which he speaks of a real terror: the one successive U.S. administrations wage against Latin America.
Author: Leticia Martínez Hernández
May 22, 2009
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
I admit it: it bothers me when my generation is called into question, not taken seriously and, worse yet, branded a lost cause, a very good reason to annoy the most even-tempered of souls, of which I am one. Is the word ‘lost’ by any chance synonymous with irreverent, revolutionary, nonconformist, impetuous, determined…? I don’t think so.
A few days ago I took a bus, a bag hanging on my shoulder. Just by chance I found an empty seat beside a boy wearing the latest styles, tattoos and earphones included, who was also carrying something.
As chance would have it, we got off at the same stop, and I felt a great sense of relief when he insisted on helping me down the steps of the rear door with my load, his own notwithstanding. Like a harbinger of doom, the gloomy phrase suddenly came to me, as did memories of so many other boys and girls in their twenties who would leave more than one skeptic at a loss for words, and some who do give their nitpickers cause to complain.
Should we call lost those youths who stormed into the Isle of Youth, Pinar del Río, Holguín, Las Tunas and other Cuban provinces to share the pain of –and ease the burden on– the victims when the heavy rains and strong winds laid into Cuba last September? Or those who for the first time got their hands dirty trying one way or another to reap some benefit from the wounded land? I remember some of tem doing their best to make sad children laugh while their own family had no roof over their heads.
And the thousands of young Cubans who keep our education system going today, are they also the target of those fire-and-brimstone statements? Do the skeptic know anything about the nights those youths spend preparing their lessons while others their age are having great fun at a party; about how nervous they are on their first day in front of a class; about how they puff up with pride to be teachers even before their twentieth birthday; about the overwhelming burden that mistrust places on their shoulders?
Would the word ‘lost’ apply to those boys and girls who ache for their faraway loves as they stand day and night on our coastal reef to watch over every stretch of this country? If they only knew about Lester and his stubborn patrolling along some far-flung beach of Guantánamo province, or about Javier’s great responsibility for a radar who does nothing but sweep the sea surface!
A colleague heard of the paper I work for and asked my age right away: “And at 25 you’re already writing for Granma?” I had to summon up my patience for a long while –someone else said once that we were being ripened with carbide– before I told him of so many others like me he could find walking the halls of the official organ of the Communist Party of Cuba, where they spend countless hours waiting for closing time or hunting for the best thesis to finish a report while listening to [Cuban folk singer] Silvio, taking a few dance steps or exchanging jokes.
Have the doubters forgotten the exploits of those beard-wearing boys who cut their way through the bush in the Sierra Maestra Mountains and then raided our cities to disrupt the existing order inside Cuba and out? If a brilliant man like Fidel has always trusted in our youth’s creative strength, why are there others who allow themselves the luxury of casting a shadow over them? We could fill endless pages with stories of young people who are underestimated on arguments as flimsy as their lack of experience. How different everything would be had the pioneers of this Revolution waited for the lazy, slippery experience…!
It’s true that things are different now and it’s no longer our role to be heroes in the crossfire, but the bullets now aimed at our heads are far more dangerous. Today’s average youth must place limits on their aspirations, chances of personal fulfillment and even opportunities to have fun at the same time as they are showered with deceitful canons designed to convince them there’s a better way of life outside our country. And despite the few who may fall for the swan song and others who allow despondency to get the better of them, millions remain who refuse to give in and still fight for their homeland’s future.
What do they mean then by saying that youth, my youth, is hopeless? That we wear provocative and stylish clothes, live noisily, say what we think without a second thought, dream of possible and impossible things, dare to take on responsibilities we have no idea we can ever fulfill, never wait until tomorrow to pledge our commitment to the future… ? If these are the answers, then not only are we lost, we don’t want to be found.
By José Alejandro Rodríguez
August 29, 2009 23:26:55 CDT
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
Unlike the deceiving mirror of my childhood, which assured the witch she was the most beautiful woman in the world, ordinary mirrors are built with the quicksilver of truth. They reflect our image such as we are, with the furrows and the snow of time.
Societies also need mirrors to scrutinize their images, to detect wrinkles, which, conversely to those that mark human faces, can be reversed. And, our socialism needs to be systematically observed, to avoid clinging to idyllic images, or deceiving notions that we are living in the best of all possible worlds.
I say this because, in my long and loving job of reflecting our society’s problems, to guarantee that it lasts longer; I have met a blinding resistance to my sincere criticism. This resistance takes the form of a “handsaw”; meaning that those who judge me, are carving a hole on the floor for me to fall through.
The sick obsession with protecting “the image” of the country, of the ministry, of the company or of the territory is more frequent than concern for the real messes being reported. On occasion, it is paranoia trying to protect positions, jobs, and other trifles, when improving reality is what it’s about.
Other times, it’s the consequence of a confusion many people have. They think that problems (in the country, ministry, company or territory) should not be discussed publicly because this will demean the achievements of the Revolution.
This blindness, common to both indolent and opportunist people, common also to those holding high positions or not, can strengthen the sensation that everything is all right. It’s very dangerous to confuse reality with our best wishes, and that by clinging to our society’s noble paradigms we fail to discover when, where, and how deeply reality proves them faulty. This would be the worst possible service to the Revolution.
There’s a scientific principle that says that to solve something, it is necessary first to recognize it and to elucidate it. For a long time there was strong resistance to accepting that corruption larvae had been already incubated in our society. Corruption was considered profanity, as if it could condemned us, we who have so much accumulated honesty. In the long run, here we are creating a General Controlership of the Republic.
Some perceive that healthy criticism – which, by the way, should not stop at words but continue in actions and transformations – is giving in to weakness; that it’s like giving weapons to the enemy. The truth is that the most dangerous missile we can give those who want to dismantle our 50 year work is silence. To keep silent when we see pretenses, double morals, conformity, or the disappearance of militant intransigence against wrongs that are incubated and develop before our very own eyes.
European socialism disappeared because it lost the ability to see what was really happening, and the compass to correct the route. This lesson cannot be forgotten. It is similar to Dorian Grey’s tragedy, Oscar Wilde’s character the one who was obsessed by narcissism, hid his portrait, so that he didn’t have to see the signs he was incorporating every time he made a blunder. Cuba has enough light to see herself in the mirror, and to correct her ugliness.
By Haydée León Moya
August 4, 2009 00:42:10 GMT
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
Cecilia González and her daughter Alioska opened their purses almost at the same time. They are standing in front of the cashier of a glistening laundry on Ayestaran Street in Havana. “It’s 77 pesos”, the employee says. And the young girl is the first one to extend her hand and pay.
Outside we heard this dialogue between the young girl and the lady:
– It’s a little bit expensive, isn’t it, “mi’ja?”
– No Mom, I think the price is right, because neither of us had to do it.
– But, will we be able to do it twice a month?
– Sure… sometimes what we don’t have is time, or detergent…
Zelmira Ramírez, laundry manager, also heard this conversation, and reached the same conclusion they did. If you don’t have to buy detergent, nor spend electricity at home, it’s worth it. If they hand in the dirty clothes, go to work and pick them up on the same day when they come back home, and pay in “pesos”, it’s really worth it, mi’jita!
Then, the experienced laundry worker, comments, “You cannot compare these machines with the clothes rippers called ‘Aurika’”.
“Well, they were also a great help”, the lady says, and leaves pleased.
The manager informs us they work from 7 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and on Sundays from 8:30 a.m. at 12:30 p.m. The price for washing and drying depends on weight, but ironing is charged by piece. “It’s a little more expensive, because compared to washing and drying, it consumes more electricity. We also have a very good new sewing machine in case a hem or some other stitches need sewing”, comments Zelmira.
Arnold Díaz, a 20 year-old boy who is already in love with the ironing machine he operates, says he also irons at home. He likes to do this job and he is not planning to leave. But, he thinks wages should be a bit higher so people wouldn’t leave looking for better paid jobs elsewhere.
People are thankful for the appearance of several remodeled laundries in different ‘barrios’ of the city. They have used places that already existed but hadn’t been repaired in more than 15 years.
Eduardo Tomé Consuegra, provincial director of commercial services in the capital, told JR that 15 laundries were reopened in Havana. Nine of these have been equipped with totally new and automated technology. The equipment includes five or seven washing machines, three or four dryers and an ironing machine or “planchín”. The equipment was bought in Spain at a cost of 70,000 dollars per module.
He said that in most of these restored facilities there is a payment system that stimulates workers and guarantees the service quality. He also said that the new modules will soon be found in all city units.
Tome said repairs have been made thanks to the cooperation of other provinces, especially with equipment installation, and to unit workers zeal in construction work. In this way, little by little, they have saved units that provided this type of service from dilapidation.
Mirurgia Ramírez Santana, national director of Service in the Ministry of Internal Trade, explains that 1,300,000 dollars were invested in 2008 to recover these basic services. The money was used to purchase 20 modules, which we described before, spare parts and maintenance service from a prominent Spanish laundry chain.
She reported that despite economic limitations and that the State subsidizes 60 per cent of this service, 32 laundries have been remodeled through out the country. A budget was approved to purchase 11 more modules, because the goal is that at least one new module is installed in every province before the end of the year.
By José Luis Estrada Betancourt
May 26, 2009 – 00:45:44 GMT
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
Even Hollywood shoots with caution given the undeniable problems to get loans, the fear of recession and the little confidence in Wall Street.
Such a highly topical matter as the world economic and financial crisis, whose effects we feel in life’s every sphere, has not gone unnoticed by the seekers of ideas for possible plots that might become box-office hits. In fact, the sexagenarian Michael Douglas will once again be directed by the renowned Oliver Stone to deliver a sequel to Wall Street (1987), where he made an Oscar-winning portrayal of Gordon Gekko, a powerful, roguish tycoon who became filthily rich as a stock market speculator.
Wall Street 2 unfolds against the ideal backdrop of today’s disturbing crisis, which will provide the context to throw light on the same world of greed and corruption behind the upcoming The international, starring Clive Owen (as Louis Salinger) and Naomi Watts (as Eleanor Whitman).
Based on screenwriter Eric Warren Singer’s script, the film follows an Interpol agent and an assistant district attorney determined to disclose the shady deals of a very powerful bank turned expert on illegal activities to fund terrorism and war.
Director Tom Tykwer speaks:”If the story seems to be ripped from the headlines, it’s because the headlines have shown that the banks control all aspects of our lives. The mess we’re in now started when the banks took advantage of people and encouraged them to live beyond their means ‘.
A similar concern has led the controversial and always unerring director of Farenheit 9/11 and Sicko to revisit a subject he had already brought to the fore in 1989 with Roger and Me, when he dug for the reasons why General Motors closed several auto plants in Michigan. A decade later, Michael Moore strikes again, but unlike his fellow filmmakers, with a documentary film, his favorite genre.
As usual, Moore decided to make inquiries into the root cause of the economic chaos lashing against our planet. To that end, he used his webpage to urge a few brave people who work on Wall Street or in the financial industry to come forward and share with me what they know», and adding: «Be a hero and help me expose the biggest swindle in American history”.
To the author of Oscar-winning Bowling for Columbine (2003) it is plain that “the wealthy, at some point, decided they didn’t have enough wealth. They wanted more… a lot more. So they systematically set about to fleece the American people out of their hard-earned money. Now, why would they do this? That’s what I seek to discover in this movie”, he explains.
As we wait for the famous filmmaker to delve into this issue, the economic and financial crisis keeps lashing at the entertainment industry, and of course, cinema is not an exception.
A most noticeable effect of this crisis, at least to those who are all gung-ho on whatever celebrity walks down the red carpet, is the lack of glamour in the world’s greatest movie festivals, an extravaganza the average mortal won’t give two hoots about but certainly a sign of how drastic the limitations have got to be, even in Cannes, one of the industry’s two biggest markets. Credit lines have decreased so much worldwide that smaller industries are no longer able to attract a sizeable audience –as it happens to Cuba and most independent film companies– to these contests, also affected by a reduction in the number of sales contract signed for the movies, TV, DVD and their by-products. Since the to-ing and fro-ing of 35-mm film has become so expensive, from now on it will be harder for filmmakers and actors to attend the premieres of their motion pictures, and more DVD releases are likely to hit the stalls.
Things have reached the point that corporate Hollywood, with plenty of stakes in various companies, have turned more conservative and are even having second thoughts about paying the hair-raising salaries their stars pocket –like the 20 million dollars Jim Carrey made for The Cable Guy, in the end a real turnoff– or keeping the affluent lifestyle they demand while on set, say, private jets close at hand.
Now the studios are “walking a tightrope”, what with the undeniable difficulties to get credits, the fear of recession, and the little confidence they have in Wall Street, which explains why more than a few finished movies ended up on ice until the thunderclouds get away –including eagerly awaited titles like the latest Harry Potter installment– often because of a budget too low to cover the hundreds of millions of dollars needed for marketing and advertising campaigns alone.
The DVD divisions seem to be the only ones expected to “gain” something from this mess, because people choose to watch films at home rather than pay for a theater ticket –as an average, 3.50 dollars in Mexico, and over 4.50 in Brazil and Chile. Facts: audience ratings fell 10% in Asia, 14% in the United States, and 1% in the European Union (figures for the end of 2008 have it that more than 9 million people stopped going to the movies compared with the previous year, which meant the closure of 39 theaters).
Nonetheless, filmmakers such as the Argentinean Luis Puenzo (The Official Story, Old Gringo) believe the economic crisis “may blaze a trail that the less powerful countries can use to disseminate their motion pictures more. Despite the hard times worldwide cinema is going through, shaking the system a little bit always leaves gaps through which we can slip, used as we are to dealing with lower costs of production than the big Hollywood companies. My generation was born in mid-crisis and is trained to make films regardless of the financial ups and downs”.
Life has proved Puenzo right up to a point, but the crux of the matter remains that the «peripheral» industries can truly make movies, taking into account that the studios have been compelled to make budget cuts and put off some productions for next year, as they have less money for distribution.
For instance, that’s the case of the Cuban Film Institute (ICAIC), which was forced to postpone the shooting of feature films that were almost ready to begin after two years of a steady pace that gave us movies like Los dioses rotos, El cuerno de la abundancia, Omertá, Ciudad en rojo and La anunciación.
Some documentary and full-length films are almost ready to hit the big screen, namely Esteban Insausti’s Larga distancia; El ojo del canario, Fernando Pérez’s movie about our Apostle José Martí; Juan Carlos Cremata’s El premio flaco; and Daniel Díaz’s Lisanka. Yet, we’ll have to slow down.
For the time being, the moviegoers’ greatest hope is that only those films supported by good scripts will get the go-ahead and the budget they need, at least while the crisis still goes on.
By Kaloi Santos Cabrera
March 04, 2009 00:42:57 GMT
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
The festival “For you, Woman” will be held from the 6th -8th March concurring with the Cuban Women Federation 8th Congress.
The Young Communists League is giving the finishing touches to an extensive program called “For you, Woman”, to be held from the 6th – 8th of March, to entertain Cuban women in every corner of the country.
This festival, concurring with the sessions of the 8th Congress of the Cuban Women’s Federation that will take place Saturday and Sunday, will hold its main events at the Cuba Pavilion [in Havana]. It will start with a meeting of female soldiers. Participants will be young students from several military schools and the founders of the Feminine Anti-aircraft Artillery Regiment formed by Vilma Espin.
Similar meetings will take place this day with women of other fields, like education and science. An exhibition of famous Cuban heroines painted by Antonio Guerrero will also be shown. Similarly, the [Computer] Youth Clubs will present several multimedia, like “Celia, Butterfly of the Sierra”. Singer Ivette Cepeda and her group Reflection will close the day.
On Saturday, the meetings will be held with women from the cultural sector. Therefore, music, literature and art will seize the pavilion. Children from “Bebe Compañia” and from the “Cascabelito” choir will be two of the outstanding performances that day. The presentation of the literary anthology “Spaces in the Island, 50 years of women’s stories in Cuba” and the opening of a collective exhibition of paintings from 17 artists are also included. The vocal group “Zamba” has been announced for the evening concert,
On Sunday, it’s the International Woman’s Day and the debut of our baseball team in the II Baseball World Classic. So, the main event will be a meeting with great national sporting figures. Other important events will be the performances of the Ballet of the L y 19 school, of the “Nene Traviesa” Children’s Company, and of the project “JADE” of the “Hemanos Saiz” Association.
During these three days, Pavilion Cuba will also provide food and hairdressing services and CDs, books, and craft sales in local currency.
By Alina Perera and Yailin Orta
March 8, 2009 00:39 GMT
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
To be a woman with spread wings; to be One and not to lose the charm and tenderness inherent in one, in this island…it’s a tough job. Don’t be frightened, reader: the authors of this article are no hard-core stubborn upholders of women’s liberation excluding indispensable male companionship. We do not uphold the statement: “foolish men who accuse women without reason…”
If we look at things more profoundly, more justly, we have to admit that despite everything, Cuban women have gained, in the maelstrom of a revolution that has never stopped thinking about them, there are still bonds that tie them down. From these bonds, as old as the human species, a patriarchal vision stems forth, silent as a ghost.
“To run on a par with the wolves, they have to pay the price”, confessed an anthropologist who studies the history of feminism in Cuba. And now, in light of the Congress of the Cuban Women Federation (FMC), we wondered about how women in our society, where discrimination against women is not legitimate, face a cultural challenge. Granted women and men are different, But, why do they have to assume life’s responsibilities so inequitably?
This is a fascinating issue that concerns us all. Hence, we went in search of voices to help us think about the reality of women in Cuba today. And, on the path walked by the Federation; born in 1960 when huge gaps between men and their partners had to be closed.
The cost of advancement
“Living in these times is difficult, both for women and men,” said Ivette Vega Hernández, editor of the magazine “Muchacha”, published by “Editorial de la Mujer”.
She could not ignore the impact of the distressing blockade that gravitates over our daily life: “The FMC has denounced it in international forums. It has done so, thinking about the great toll it is for women to assume roles historically assigned to them. When a woman occupies minutes from her working time worrying about the food she needs to cook, it is time taken from her work. Besides being good professionals, they feel they must also be good at home”.
And, this is not wrong. What’s wrong is that only women are concerned with such issues. The pattern seems cloned in the younger generations, said Ivette Vega: “It is common in high schools that girls, to meet the expectations of their partners, take on the responsibility of managing and taking care of the weekly groceries, or washing clothes. Disparities are not changed by a stroke of a pen; they pass through the individual conscience of each human being. Change is costly because it means getting rid of more than five or six hundred years of patriarchal culture.”
In the eyes of specialists, women continue to function compelled by very old triggers. It is obvious that in many households, the times when the “weaker sex” requested permission to work “outside the home“ are over. But, Ivette Vega reflects, “now, there’s a deep silence when we get home, or there’s a disapproving expression on their faces when we open the door.”
There are other, more blatant, discriminatory signals, such as we find in “popular songs” that brand women as heartless thieves or greedy. As long as there are people that see us in this way, equal opportunity and social justice will not be achieved“, said the director of the magazine “Muchacha”.
And she gave us other examples to ponder: “If I have a brother and he works less than me at home simply because he’s male, justice has not been achieved. If I’m the one who has to be careful about having sex, and not him, the point of view is still lopsided. Because, becoming a father is something as serious and responsible as becoming a mother. “
There is a trend Ivette did not overlook: ‘When you move up the social pyramid, the number of women in leadership positions diminishes. Is it because they are no longer bold, decisive, and intelligent? No. Life changed them, and those that “get there” … What have they lost, what have they gained, what makes them suffer? And, if apparently they have not lost anything, what do they feel guilty of? What is the cost to pay if they fail to conform to the mother or wife cultural pattern expected of them? A truly revolutionary change is needed, because it is not enough for me to be present: we must be really there, without it being considered a heresy. “
To run or to flirt, with the wolves?
Without including the male point of view, this journalistic expedition would be incomplete. That is why we invited Julio Cesar Pages, Ph. D. in Historical Science and anthropologist, to contribute his point of view on this complex and sensitive issue. It’s an issue that triggers the most diverse views, and there’s always the risk of not being able to balance them.
“We are a country with high expectations, we have a large population of women with university and pre-university studies, we have achieved a great professional level, but ‘machismo’ survives as a cultural and educational label.
“Whereas our women have grown in their spiritual universe and in the professional world, our men have not done the same. We remain a gallant, but discriminatory society. I’d like to make clear that the ‘machismo’ discourse includes everyone. It is not just superficial, it’s a set of ideas profoundly embedded [in our consciousness].
“The challenge to overcome it can not be left solely to the FMC. It seems to me it lacks responsibility, if only those who are most vulnerable face it. It needs a social synergy in which all the institutions must work. The Federation must be the generator, but not the custodian of all the problems. “
Julio Cesar wanted to remind us that absent mothers and fathers are judged differently. Mothers who turn away from their children are downright disqualified. On the other hand, [absent] fathers are seen as wayward or judged simply as abiding by tradition.
“If a woman decides to run at a par with the wolves, it will be very difficult for her. She will probably be disqualified. Similarly, if a man isn’t dominant, he will definitively be disqualified and even run over by the competition,” stated the anthropologist. For him, it’s not easy to make educational talks coincide with day by day reality, among other reasons, because “we keep sticking to women without involving men.”
The mirage of equity
There are many traps, sometimes subtle snares, set on the road to equity. To sustain this idea, Julio Cesar Gonzalez suggested we examine how, when some women occupy positions in which they have to make important decisions, they tend to use certain communication codes used by men.
In this reflection, the Doctor of Historical Sciences says that “we cannot bring about equity without working on men’s perception of their masculinity. When we talk to some men about changing, they associate change with being weak.”
When referring to the history of women struggles for liberation, the interviewee noted that, due to their public success in the nineteenth century, men made progress. But, women went further because they questioned their essence. “For me as a social activist, the great challenge of the twenty-first century is to work with men and get them to influence others [men].”
– How do you feel people see you for studying issues such as masculinity?
-Sometimes I provoke skepticism. Some doubt me. “This man is missing something,” they sometimes think. But later, during the debate, people become passionate [with the subject]. So, I get a lot of solidarity. And many people come to me to tell me their most intimate conflicts.
Significance and dreams of a federation
To get to know the intricacies of the Federation, to get to be part of its National Directorate, was for Ivette Vega an opportunity to discover the transformative dimension of the Revolution on women. It’s a change that has been “much more inclusive than what might be dealt with in books. We speak of a job that has been difficult, systematic, and not always well understood.”
– What do you consider are the most immediate tasks the organization has to perform?
– I think the first challenge facing the FMC is to make the girls of the new generations understand fully, that conquered goals do not last per se, and if we fail to defend them, they can be lost.
“In the ’60s, most women had to the community as their sole political and social participation space.
Fifty years later, many young girls study in boarding schools; others work and have different responsibilities in other organizations. So, I think the biggest challenge for the FMC lies in getting the [Federation] to vibrate and to be felt strongly at the lower echelons. “
According to Ivette Vega, one of the weaknesses of the Federation is that few of the lower echelon delegations are headed by young women, who, incidentally, must be called upon attractively. They tend to have a greater presence at middle or higher echelons.
But despite all challenges, the objectives of the FMC are still valid because the primary purpose is to keep up the work of the Revolution. “
To make the organization look increasingly similar to the new generations is one of the cardinal horizons outlined by Lisa García Gayoso, legal adviser to the national FMC Community Work field and executive coordinator of the National Group for the Prevention and Treatment of Domestic Violence.
“We are privileged to have close to us women who were in the Federation since its inception. We have learned from them. There are objectives, laid down when the Federation was found, that are still valid, and that need to be transmitted to young women today in the language of 2009.
“We must make sure that young people see the organization as theirs, not only as the one born in 1960; that they see it as one that is fighting for what must be conquered now. Some equity has been achieved, but there are still dilemmas. We still have, for example, violence in some homes. And, I dare say that after the special period, with the intensification of economical difficulties in Cuban families, tensions have not diminished. ”
Moreover, according to Lisa, the organization has to divulge more and in a better way what it does, and work in specific ways with young women. The way it’s run is another key factor: “We have delegations that work very well, others not so much, and others that do not work at all. The latter ones are those in which people say, “The Federation [representatives] only comes here to collect fees “.
It is a weakness that must be corrected, because good performance guarantees our being able to attract the younger generation, especially in the communities where all kinds of women live: housewives, workers, students, and retired women.”
– What is the most exciting thing the organization offers to young women?
– There are things that have interested me a lot and that I first heard of when I arrived at FMC: they include humanity, simplicity and sensitivity. The Federation has been involved in many beautiful endeavors in this country. Few people know, for example, the great impulse given by the Federation to the current Family Code. It was created, partly because of the impetus given it by Vilma and the FMC, to restructure the concept of motherhood and fatherhood. And so that men could share all family roles equally with their wives.
”The FMC participates in programs that help those who neither study nor work. It helps in schools, day care centers, and homes for children without parental care. There are many social endeavors unknown to the young people. There are the Counseling Houses for Women and Families where we can ask for counsel in any kind of situation. “
Julio Cesar Gonzalez has no doubt that the Federation is “an important organization, which needs and deserves the solidarity of other social organizations. It is badly needed, because until we have equity between women and men, many federations will be needed.
“The FMC reaches the most distant and difficult places; it travels into the family, and it does so by activism. Women are the ones who mobilize for any public good campaign. “
Norma Vasallo Barrueta, president of the Women’s Chair at the University of Havana, Ph. D. in Pedagogical Sciences and Senior Professor of the Psychology Faculty, said that the Federation needs to diversify the work it carries out today. It should be diverse corresponding to the different interests of its addressees. “If it were more active and rewarding, it would achieve plenty of results.”
Maité López Peña, a promotion and media official of the FMC in Havana, is confident that the organization must “work more with young women at the lowest echelon, and also be more operational. We must do more to reach housewives who have no other links. The work must be individualized, because all young women do not have the same interests. We must find areas where they feel motivated. “
The difficult art of existence
”No one can doubt,” Norma Vasallo said, “the rising significant presence women have in the public world of Cuban reality. But, parallel to the evolution of their social involvement, a partial stagnation of their private and domestic life has resulted. And this not only happens in Cuba.
“The feminist movement has had significant achievements in the twentieth century, meaningfully expressed in labor market participation and different levels of education. But, women are still the ones mainly responsible for household tasks and in Cuba these tasks require more time, more dedication. “
This specialist said Cuban women, because they work in the social and domestic fields, have a double shift. Because of everyday shortages, it often turns into two and a half shifts, which means a 20 hour work day.
“The other thing that is a reality in Cuba is the need to care for the elderly at home. This is another task that tradition has assigned to women. In our country, we already know, population is aging. Therefore, it’s peremptory to think about creating institutions that help women. So they don’t have to give up their professions, when they are still in full possession of their faculties, to care for their loved ones full time. “
The Ph. D. in Psychological Sciences touched yet another abrasive issue, that of gender violence; the one, women suffer in social spaces. She recalled how some institutions prefer to hire young and beautiful women; and that harassment on the street is such, those of the “weaker sex” will wind up needing space suits to go out.
“Violence against women is also emotional, -she added- psychological, and even economic. Economic violence can be enforced when women are dependent on the man’s salary, or when it’s his house, and he uses this as blackmail. These are realities that are with us, which we must be disassemble and denounce, because if they are seen as natural, we are at risk of making them almost legitimate.
There are women who, as a result of years of patriarchal culture, can be more ‘macho’ than men, said Lisa Garcia Gayoso. The social authority we have gained sometimes cracks when we cross our front doors inwards, and we limit our partner’s help with domestic chores. For example, were we born with a sign in our foreheads saying ‘I’m the one who cooks’? How many times do we come home at night to find our husband watching TV and our son hasn’t taken a bath yet?”
Thinking of the future, we can not expect our society to be better tomorrow, if at home the son is seeing that Dad is doing nothing and Mom is the orchestra- woman. When that child grows up, he will repeat the pattern he has learned.
Let’s meditate together on this. Without having to experience arguments like the following, this is a true story:
– There is a lot of ‘machismo’- says the female subordinate to the male boss. And he says: “What we have is a lot of ‘womanism’.” She is struck dumb at the new word. And he continues: “Yes, a plague of women who want to boss us around.” And so, in this case, it’s a dialogue between two deaf persons, biting its tail, without hope for solutions that would provide wise balance.
By Marianela Martín and Alina Perera
March 8, 2009 00:58:49 GMT
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
Vilma’s voice is being projected across the room and large screens show images of her during distinct moments of her life. In her loving tone, she speaks of the privilege of being a woman in Cuba. Like Fidel she has been a faithful promoter of our conquests.
Minutes later, young women in uniform bring Vilma’s guerilla outfit and her pistol closer to the stage, symbols that prevail during the sessions of the 8th Congress of the Federation of Cuban Women (FMC).
These were the first moments of the most important meeting of Cuban women, which ended on Sunday in Havana’s Convention Palace. The inaugural session on Saturday afternoon include the presence of the First Vice President of the Council of State and Ministers, José Ramón Machado Ventura, the Moncada Heroine, Melba Hernández, the founder of the Federation and Vilma’s comrade from the clandestine struggle and the Sierra Maestra, Asela de los Santos Tamayo, and the mothers, wives, and sons of our five compatriots unjustly imprisoned in U.S. jails for fighting terrorism.
In the meeting, where almost half of the delegates were born after 1959, the secretary general of the FMC, Yolanda Ferrer Gómez, displayed confidence in the women who will provide continuity to the life of the organization.
“Cuban women will never return to the oppressive past”, the member of the Party’s Central Committee affirmed. She repeated something that Vilma said and which Fidel has always praised: women have to put up a fight for life and the Revolution alongside their male comrades.
Especially moving was the proposal to place an image of combatant Vilma in front of the logo on the Federation’s flag. The delegates raised their hands in a sign of approval and afterwards a young woman declared that the face of this exceptional woman will be an incentive for women to become members of and take an active part in the organization’s endeavors.
Reading a summery of the Central Report to the Congress, Yolanda Ferrer emphasized that Cuban women are a «true army», in which the precepts conceived of by Vilma for the full liberation of women have taken root.
The Secretary General of the Federation acknowledged that the organization has become stronger and its membership base has grown. It has identified the most important challenges for women, developed and promoted educational and preventative programs, taken part in the tasks of the Energy Revolution, defended the incorporation of women into the work force, and decided on the modification of cardinal laws for the country, among other achievements.
“This, our first Congress of the 21st century, serves to consolidate what has been achieved” Yolanda Ferrer stated. She said that even though the FMC has advanced, it continues face challenges. The organization must improve the politics of cadres; achieve the smooth functioning and liveliness of each section of the Federation; work in a multifaceted manner in order to attend to individualities; make it so that the organization is felt in every community; energetically confront all the symptoms of corruption; and revolutionize content and ways of organizing.
During the first day, the delegates also approved the suggestion of the National Secretary to not fill the position of the President of the FMC in the future and for it remain symbolically in the hands of compañera Vilma Espín as a tribute to her.
From woman to woman.
In the morning, there were reflections by commissions dealing with cadre politics and the operation of the organization, ideological work, the formation of values, the defense of the country, international solidarity work, the participation of the women in the economy, community and preventative work, and the fight for equality and the promotion of women.
This last subject provoked multiple people to express their ideas, among which was the need to go beyond analysis that refers only to men and to women when it should be about equality.
According to the delegate’s criterion, it’s necessary to add other variables that display the principal areas where inequality is generated in Cuba today. How do the families depend on women’s economic contribution in the home? How does subjectivity function depending on the social group to which a person pertains?
Only if we see the Cuban reality as something heterogeneous and contradictory, a female member alerted, will our ways of doing politics be more effective.
Another concern expressed in the commission was in reference to the importance of respecting the diversity of preferences among human beings. This principal applied to the area of sexuality, which, according to more than one voice in the Congress, is the antidote to prejudices and discriminatory attitudes.
One woman requested that we not forget that behind each person that has sexual preferences, to which we either are or are not accustomed, there is someone who has feelings and can struggle together with us.
The director of the Cuban National Center of Sexual Education (CENESEX), Mariela Castro Espín, said in a reflection about the challenges of achieving equality that in some ways we are returning to the 1970s, when at the height of the Second Congress of the Federation, women asked for sexual orientation for their children so that they did not repeat the same errors that they had.
“We return to those problems, although with a dialectical focus – Mariela said –; gender violence is not longer as explicit; the bad keeps reducing but it does not disappear, which is why we must keep working intelligently”.
The director of CENESEX posed a question for all to ponder: How does a woman that has governmental, administrative, and political responsibilities live? With how many contradictions? “This is a problem whose solution can be found in the joint work of men and women”.
To envisage, the curative attitude of José Martí, was in the spirit of the delegates that participated in the commission, where they spoke about efforts in the community and in educational settings where it is possible to deeply confront attitudes that lessen the moral health of the nation.
Lázara Mercedes López Acea, member of the Secretariat of the Party’s Central Committee emphasized that good intentions are not enough for deploying effective preventative work: its necessary to prepare oneself. If direct attention for children and youth is important to the Federation, it’s cardinal to provide guidance to the organization’s social workers who work closely with families.
The organization’s impact in homes, in the School Councils, in its projects like the Courses of Integral Advancement for Youth, and in all of the key spaces for the education of new generations was highlighted by Lázara Mercedes. When one speaks about prevention, she said, one must always do it with infinite reserve, which the FMC has in its work with the human being.
What woman can do
In 2000, Aida Leonor Oro Lau, director of the company Inejiro Asanuma Holguin Spinning Mill, suffered an accident that caused her to lose her right hand, but did not weaken her desire to work. Now «left-handed by force», she admits, the initiatives arising from her are countless and go beyond giving orders or singing papers.
This Saturday, among delegates of the 8th Congress of the FMC analyzing the participation of women in the Cuban economy, Aida Leonor brought up the epidemic sadness that the hurricanes left in Hoguin, also known as the city of parks.
“Of my workers, 171 suffered damage to their homes and 41 were left without a place to live. The factory had to take on, amidst the chaos, the production of food for these workers and also form a strategy so that absenteeism would not affect production plans.”
With this Cuban woman in charge, operating one thread winding machine, 57,000 hours of voluntary work were done and the plans were completed.
Aida took over this company in 1992. At that time, the center suffered from shortages and the exodus of many workers. Coming from the standpoint that willpower is more powerful than the available consumables, she had the intention of diversifying products to temporarily ride it out.
With a 40 year-old sowing machine that belonged to the center and three female workers, they began to make pillows. Later the workshop grew with the obtainment of 8 of these machines and with the reclamation of the movement Sewing at Home, which the Federation promoted.
Thanks to this initiative, the factory sold 224,000 dollars worth of products at TRD stores last year, and in 2009 its sales will reach $314,000, almost 36% of which the company will pay to the state. The company envisages producing thread for textile products made in the country, including the production of antiseptic tape.
Aida spoke in the commission about replacing imports with national products and that national industry must recover its reliability. In the same discussion, Odalys Álvarez from Pinar del Rio requested that the FMC more rigorously to demand that companies pay based on results because not doing so weakens women’s incorporation in the workplace.
Audit and Control Minister Gladys Bejerano called for the creation a culture of control and prevention. She was an invited guest at the 8th Congress and spoke about the presence of women in the economic life of the country, where they have not only spread intelligent ideas but have also known how to confront corruption and other illegalities using their talent of persuasion and love.
March 15, 2009 00:53:09 GMT
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
At the Museum of the Revolution, the 25 years of existence of this regiment was remembered. The regiment was created by initiative of Vilma Espin, eternal president of the Cuban Women Federation.
The Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR) in the capital paid tribute to the first anti-aircraft artillery regiment of women, created by initiative of Vilma Espin, eternal president of the Cuban Women Federation (FMC), according to AIN.
During a ceremony at the Museum of the Revolution, the 25 years of existence of this regiment were remembered. Reserve Colonel Mirta Garcia Llorca was in command of this regiment from 1984 to 1991.
After placing a wreath at the eternal flame to the Heroes of the Fatherland at the Granma Memorial, the women shared their experiences and remembered the founding years. The myriad tasks performed on behalf of the FAR and the FMC, particularly during international missions and in Cuba, were also remembered.
The event, chaired by Major General Antonio Enrique Batlle Lusón, Hero of the Republic of Cuba, and by Yolanda Ferrer, secretary general of the women’s organization, was a propitious moment to recount the significance Cuban women have had as part of the Cuban people in uniform.
It also recognized the efforts of the FAR, the UJC, the FMC and the High School Student Federation (FEEM) to comply with the Women’s Voluntary Military Service, a vital link in the incorporation of young girls to the defense of our homeland.
At the end of the ceremony, Brigadier General Ramon Martinez Echevarria, of MINFAR, stressed the merits of these women who stepped forward at a time when the country urgently needed their presence in the Armed Forces and reiterated the altruism and courage with which they faced different missions.
The First Antiaircraft Artillery Regiment of Women was founded on March 8, 1984, and many of its members are still active within the FAR and the MININT, while others are active in different sectors of Cuban society.
15 de marzo de 2009 00:53:09 GMT
En el Museo de la Revolución fueron recordados los 25 años de existencia de este órgano armando, que surgió por iniciativa de Vilma Espín, eterna presidenta de la Federación de Mujeres Cubanas
Las Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias (FAR) rindieron homenaje en la capital al primer regimiento femenino de artillería antiaérea, una iniciativa impulsada por Vilma Espín, eterna presidenta de la Federación de Mujeres Cubanas (FMC), informó la AIN.
Durante una ceremonia en el Museo de la Revolución fueron recordados los 25 años de existencia de este órgano armando, al frente del cual estuvo desde 1984 hasta 1991 la coronel de la reserva Mirta García Llorca.
Tras colocar una ofrenda floral en la llama eterna a los Héroes de la Patria en el Memorial Granma, las féminas intercambiaron experiencias y rememoraron los años fundacionales y las innumerables tareas cumplidas por encargo de las FAR y la FMC, en particular en misiones internacionalistas y en suelo patrio.
El acto, presidido por el Héroe de la República de Cuba, general de división Antonio Enrique Lusón Batlle, y Yolanda Ferrer, secretaria general de la organización femenina, devino oportuno recuento de lo que ha significado la mujer cubana como parte del pueblo uniformado.
Asimismo, se reconoció el esfuerzo de las FAR, la UJC, la FMC y la Federación de Estudiantes de la Enseñanza Media (FEEM) en el cumplimiento del Servicio Militar Voluntario Femenino, un eslabón imprescindible en la incorporación de las jóvenes a la defensa de la Patria.
Al término de la ceremonia el general de brigada Ramón Martínez Echevarría, del MINFAR, destacó los méritos de estas mujeres que dieron el paso al frente en momentos en que el país urgía de su presencia en las Fuerzas Armadas y reiteró el altruismo y la valentía con que enfrentaron disímiles misiones.
El Primer Regimiento de Artillería Antiaéreo Femenino se fundó el 8 de marzo de 1984, y muchas de sus integrantes se mantienen en activo dentro de las FAR y el MININT y otras en diferentes sectores de la sociedad cubana.