By: Martha Sánchez Martínez
May 17, 2018
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Chilean transsexual actress Daniela Vega has a lot of international awards at home, but she feels she lacks something like a human being and it is not a laurel, but a right.
The star of A Fantastic Woman, winner of this year’s Oscar for Best Foreign Film, would like to be able to stamp her name on her grave in her native country.
If I could, I would not take a jar, or my rings, or my glasses, when I die. I would take my name with me, because my name is what I am, it is what I did and what I wanted to do at the moment when I had to be alive, said the 28-year-old girl who at the age of 14 began her gender transition.
For Daniela, it is a question of dignity, which could be resolved by will.
Why not? Why not? Where is the dignity of the people then? Where is the creation of rights for human dignity? These and other questions make her one of the most valuable activists in the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community today.
After making history as the first transgender woman to take the role of presenter at an Academy Awards ceremony, Time Magazine chose her in 2018 as one of the 100 most influential personalities in the world.
The performance of Marina Vidal, a trans woman, in Sebastian Lelio’s feature film, gave her a Platinum Award, a Caleuche, and Best Actress awards at the Palm Springs International Film Festival and the Havana International New Latin American Film Festival.
She also presented the Ibero-American Phoenix Film Award and the Best Actress Jury Award at the Lima Film Festival in Peru to the artist and lyrical singer.
Art, in general, helps to blur and soften many barriers, because art is a space for resistance, reflection and communion, she said during a colloquium held at the National Sex Education Center (Cenesex) in Cuba.
She travelled to this Caribbean island to participate once again in the actions of the Day against Homophobia and Transphobia, which takes place every May under the direction of the sexologist Mariela Castro.
According to Vega, in many countries of the Latin American continent, transgender people are destined for smaller tasks, not for political, strategic or community participation.
And I feel like why? is answered with the word fear, because some people are afraid to empower certain people, she said.
The Oscar won by A Fantastic Woman in the United States of course gave her satisfaction, and above all allowed her to raise her voice, but this girl can not stop thinking about others, ishe is not a unique case on the planet, she prefers to defend the opportunity to listen to everyone.
Why are some voices legitimate and others not? This has to do with the legitimacy we give to life, it should not be necessary to win an Oscar to be listened to, it is enough that there is only a will to listen, he said.
When will the States of the world understand that identity is an inalienable right?
In addition, she wondered where the power of States to support the childhood of transgender people lay, for we were not talking about someone who became a horse, a dog or a cat, but a human being, and she claimed it from her own experience, because she was a victim of discrimination in childhood.
Speaking of human beings, it would be nice to understand that human rights are not charged like a credit card, nor as a shopping mall, nor with a luxury car, human rights are taken to the grave, she said.
Who says that there are wars that are not legitimate, that there are unconquerable loves, that there are ungovernable bodies, asked this voracious reader of poetry who came to the world of acting in search of an instrument of self-understanding.
According to Daniela, giving dignity to people should be the political will of all States and governments, as they have supported the right to vote, among others, because the dignity of the human being is, together with diversity, its greatest wealth.
A Fantastic Woman launched her to stardom but it was not her first film work, as her film debut came in 2014 with The Visit, a film directed by Mauricio López Fernández, which allowed her to travel to various festivals around the world and gave her her first international awards as an actress.
At the end of this year, Vega will appear in a starring role in the film Un domingo de julio en Santiago, by Visnu and Gopal Ibarra, who invited her to perform as a femele lawyer.
She only answers with mystery a question from Prensa Latina about what she would be interested in doing in film:
“I like to surprise people, I prefer to surprise them,” she said.
These days, the artist is writing an autobiographical book, she is not ashamed of being a trans, but proud, and she suffers the obligation to travel with a masculine name on her passport, but she will not stop struggling to be recognized everywhere as who she is, and that is clear to her, simply Daniela Vega.
May 17, 2018
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
In Pinar del Rio, Chilean transgender actress Daniela Vega, star of the film A Fantastic Woman (awarded the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film), highlighted the Cuban government’s political will to build the dignity of life and bridges that unite.
The artist spoke with representatives of the press in Pinar del Río, the venue of the Cuban Conference against homophobia and transphobia, convened by the National Sex Education Centre (Cenesex) in an effort to promote respect for free and responsible sexual orientation and gender identity.
Vega recalled that from the first time she visited Cuba, her colors and the spirit of Cenesex caught her by keeping them beautiful and the island’s flame high.
What motivates me to come is the greatness of this country, she confessed while calling for taking the stones that others will use to build walls that separate and use them to build bridges that unite.
The Chilean actress thanked Cuba and its people for the reception and called on heterosexuals, homosexuals and transsexuals to overcome fear and act convinced that colors can mix and be bright and radiate more light.
Let us fight so that the children of the future are not rejected as we were, she concluded.
(With information from Prensa Latina)
An Ode to the Lenin School
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews
By Dario Alejandro Escobar
The nostalgic adult would like to go back over his memories and relive his times of glory and pleasure. The Lenin has on its students and teachers that magical effect that falls in love and compromises, perhaps ridiculous for the uninitiated in this youth brotherhood.
It doesn’t matter if they graduated, if they stayed a year or a month: the time argument is irrelevant. Because if you had the opportunity to live there, even if it was just a short period of time, you will be fascinated by the wonderful woman who deflowers you to become a different human being, almost always better.
The Vocational Institute of Exact Sciences Vladimir Ilich Lenin is forty-four years old today. It is easy to write and quicker to say, but it would be unfair to think of the thousands of students who have passed through their classrooms and hostels as mere data for a report.
The Lenin must be evoked in the new sensations of the first day as we walk, aisle after aisle, through its accomplice buildings. In the furtive and deep loves, those that shake our chest and make our face blush if we remember them. In the tears of many in the face of powerlessness for not understanding enough a subject that diminished – let’s be honest and admit it now – academic qualification and also personal pride. In the “infamous” guards on weekends; in the passes “removed” by the accumulation of reports; in the chaotic recreations, as close as possible to the meaning of “party”, even after the ones experienced in my special college years.
In those recreational spaces of the Lenin I learned to dance casino and to chant Silvio Rodríguez with any deflecting guitar. In the Lenin I smoked for the first time and in its nights I wrote my first attempts at literature.
The School has invariably shown some elitist inspiration. There’s no point in denying it. From the ways to get in, to the social and academic division of its groups, everything pointed towards excellence and exclusivity; but it has also had an avant-garde vocation. It wanted – and in my opinion it has succeeded in general – in training the most integral pre-university students. The one who knows the natural and exact sciences in above-average detail, and in turn has read a good number of the classics of literature or traditional and contemporary music. At least it was like that back in the day when I studied there
For being the avant-garde school that sheltered us, we venerated it. For developing the potential skills of your students, for making us grow from study, work and responsibility towards ourselves.
It is in the human and intellectual quality of its best students that the magic of the Lenin School resides. More than a decade after being abandoned by my fellow students, Vocations continues to graduate restless boys: boys who arrive at university with a desire to “eat the world”.
So much time later, and with a very important part of its graduates residing outside the country, parties are celebrated where people with antipodean differences in many aspects of life meet: ideological, sexual, and geographic, but united by the circular monogram very red with an atom in the center, worn in the sleeve of the shirt, or of the blouse, during the preuniversity.
I still find myself in the streets, in guaguas [buses], and more and more frequently on the Internet, people of my year, whom I greet with nothing else in common but to recognize us from that place. The school has remained engraved in the collective memory of its students as a great sect of friendship, a religion that few have renounced. A beautiful manifestation of memory grateful to the past.
These days I can’t get in to tour the school the way I want to. Bureaucratic reasons are holding me back. The Lenin is falling apart and there are those who justify laziness with incredible arguments. It hurts a lot but it doesn’t matter, because I have so much accumulated memory, so many friends scattered around, so many songs evocative of innocence, that no barrier can prevent me from feeling like the first time, a Lenin School student again and again when it comes to Graduation Day.
By Mónica Baró Sánchez*
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews
No, you can’t exercise in peace on the Fifth Avenue promenade or in similar spaces without at least five men, if you’re lucky, bothering you, saying sloppy things and looking at you like a bloodhound with their tongues out. With the faces of morons.
If you stretch out because your leg and if you do sit-ups because your buttocks. They remember young boys leaving priest’s school after months of not seeing a woman.
Sometimes I feel like taking off a tennis shoe and hitting them on the head to see if I can kill them with some obsolete neurons until they start to behave like the men they should be. Or to go out one afternoon and start messing with them in the same way so that they feel how unbearable they are. Let’s see if they stop seeing and treating women as something to have sex with and discover that we are people, that we feel, that we think and, above all, that we have dignity.
I don’t want to be looked at like that anymore. That doesn’t raise my self-esteem. Being looked at as one thing humiliates me, assaults me. I don’t exercise for men, I don’t wear a short dress for men, I don’t paint my lips for men, I don’t dance and I don’t shake my butt for men, I don’t smile for men.
I do everything for myself and for myself. And I’m pretty hard to please. When I’m alone I keep doing all that. Because I like to like myself and when I stop liking myself I try to like myself again. Me to me. Not to anyone. I like that I like my body when I dance, my lips when I paint them, my hair when I let go, my thighs and my belly when I dress myself short and even my ligaments when I stretch.
Women deserve to be treated like women, not like orifices. No matter what we do or how we dress. I’m sure there’s not a single man who finishes his workout and needs to publish something like this. Peace for me today is that if a man is going to look at me he must look me in the eye. And be quiet. Because almost always, I say to the defenders of “compliments”, not to say that always, when a man says something to you on the street is not because he wants to get to know you and know your human values, but because he wants to humiliate you. So, peace.
Originally posted on myFacebook wall.
Finalist of the Gabriel García Márquez Prize for Journalism in the Text category in 2016.
By Manuel E. Yepe
Exclusive for the daily POR ESTO! of Merida, Mexico.
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution in late July 2008 apologizing to African Americans for the years of slavery they have suffered.
This was the recognition by the U.S. House of Representatives of the injustice and inhumanity of the slave system and “Jim Crow”, as the period of intense racial discrimination between 1865, when slavery was officially abolished and the 1960s, was known in there.
At that time, the establishment was forced to take action against the nefarious racial discrimination system but, in some states more and in others less, it kept black citizens legally segregated from white people and limited their civil rights, even without the right to vote. This legal segregation was more inhumane and violent in the southern states than in the northern United States.
The name “Jim Crow” applied to that shameful period in American history was that of a comedian and singer named Rice, who composed and performed the song “Jump, Jim Crow” in 1828, about a black servant who danced while brushing his master’s horse. It is not clear why the term “Jim Crow” began to be used to refer to any entity that practiced racial segregation: “Jim Crow laws”, “Jim Crow schools”, “Jim Crow trams”. There were workplaces, universities, taxis, trains, buses, boats, canteens, restaurants, hotels, hospitals, health services, water fountains, prisons, nursing homes, barbershops, public parks, sports fields, circuses, fairs, theatres, cinemas, concert or party halls, libraries, beaches, swimming pools, waiting rooms, telephone booths, workshops, elevators, brothels, lines or queues, entrances and exits of buildings. Everything could be assimilated into to this U.S. form of apartheid.
Segregation applied to marriage, some professions, neighborhoods, churches and cemeteries. In some cities, Jim Crow martial law was imposed and blacks could not go out on the street after a certain hour at night. In the Jim Crow courts, whites swore with one hand on a Bible and blacks swore on a different copy of the same book..
Black people were excluded from the unions. They were not admitted to Jim Crow sororities, clubs and societies. Board games and sports involving physical contact between blacks and whites, including combat games such as boxing, were prohibited unless the opponent was a foreigner.
Add to this ignominious situation the violence with which the Ku Klux Klan, members of the John Birch Society, the White Citizens’ Councils and other elements of the American extreme right were acting. A real white terrorist system!
In the face of such outrages, the struggle of black Americans for their civil rights became increasingly intense. It generated such great leaders as Malcolm X and the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., as well as hundreds of martyrs, remembered or forgotten, from Black Power organizations and others who, in the 1960s, gave birth to a situation that appeared to be a precursor to a revolution.
Fear of reprisals by the empire and its control of the media limited the international denunciation of these abuses and global solidarity. The triumph of the revolution in Cuba, the rise of anti-imperialism and the ideas of social justice in Latin America encouraged the just domestic struggle of Black people. This coincided with the need for the recruitment of black soldiers for the asymmetrical imperialist war against Vietnam and all this forced the establishment to bury the Jim Crow system.
For the sake of national security, the empire made major reformist “concessions” in race relations in a country where the law was white, and there were white policemen, white judges, white mayors, and white actors and actresses on film and TV screens. Blacks were nearly always represented in submissive and complacent attitudes.
Prior to the request for an apology from the House of Representatives, the other branch of Congress, the Senate, passed another resolution in April 2008 apologizing for “the many cases of violence, abuse and neglect” suffered by Native Americans. The Senate also apologized in 1993 for the “illegal overthrow” of the Kingdom of Hawaii a hundred years earlier.
Yet humanity is still waiting for the U.S. to apologize and compensate so many nations on every continent whose democratic existence the U.S. has assaulted since it became an imperialist power in the early 20th century. And to do so with the promise never again to intervene in the internal affairs of other nations, as well as to respect the human rights of their own citizens of other ethnicities and ways of thinking.
May 17, 2018.