By Iroel Sanchez
September 23, 2022
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews
This Sunday, Cubans will vote in a referendum for a new Families Code that will mean a substantive development in rights and guarantees for all citizens, but especially for sexual minorities, the elderly, women and girls. In Cuba, for more than five decades, there has been paid maternity, the right of women to decide on their pregnancy with universal and free medical care, and to receive equal pay for equal work as men. All of this, part of guaranteeing legislation that now advances and is consolidated with the new Code, is nothing more than an aspiration for U.S. women.
However, the U.S. government, which in the name of Human Rights, unleashes wars, sanctions countries and applies against Cuba the longest and most complete system of economic punishment ever known, far from diminishing them, these days increases them by forcing any traveler to the Island who wants to visit U.S. territory to require a visa, thus damaging tourism, one of the main lines of the Cuban economy.
And worse: In its anti-Cuban propaganda war, Washington is now putting all the machinery of terrorism 2.0 in digital networks, which it finances for regime change on the island, to promote a vote against a Code that will allow, among many things, equal marriage and solidarity motherhood [surrogacy without exchange of money]. Experts say that in terms of sexual and family rights it is one of the most advanced legislations in the world and deals a hard blow to patriarchy.
Nevertheless, the U.S. foreign policy discourse sets itself up as a defender of women’s rights. It does so after creating, with its mujahideen friends, the backward Taliban to drive the Soviets out of Afghanistan, and which set back by thousands of years the freedoms that Afghan women won with a socialist-oriented government.
Or allying with the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the country Biden has just visited as an arms dealer, where women are deprived of any social and political life and condemned to medieval punishments if they deviate in the slightest from the strict rules established by a monarchy without parliament or elections of any kind. None of that arouses scruples in Washington, nor do the hundreds of women and girls “collateral damage” from its drone, helicopter and bomber fire in the Middle East and beyond.
That politicized, biased and opportunistic view of Human Rights, and in particular women’s rights, is President Joe Biden’s when he said this week at the UN to “stand with the brave citizens and brave women of Iran” over protests where the U.S. hand is evident.
Since the times when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, back in 2009, admitted to Fared Zakariah on CNN that Washington was using Twitter to foment rebellions against the government in Tehran, much has evolved in technology but not in the cynicism installed in the White House.
Since then, there are enough elements, including U.S. diplomats arrested in the middle of previous protests, to know that although there may be real elements of nonconformity behind a street demonstration, as anywhere in the world, the long hand of the U.S. special services and the powerful media that are akin to them, are decisive in what the world perceives as real.
This time the motive is the death of young Masha Amini, who died in a police station in Tehran, after being arrested by the body known as the Morality Police, for not wearing the Islamic veil properly. The Iranian authorities have claimed that she died of a heart attack, and a security camera video released by them shows Amini in a kind of conference where only women are seen without any trace of violence, from which she gets up, walks, goes to talk to another woman and falls down on her own feet, receives medical attention and is taken away in an ambulance. Nothing to do with the victims of American drones, those tortured in clandestine prisons or Guantanamo and Abuh Ghraib, whose images outrage our retinas.
Much less the shooting of the crowds of women and children who flooded the Kabul airport trying to flee with the American troops who, in their stampede from Afghanistan, left Afghan women in the hands of the Taliban extremists. Closer to home, the names of anti-capitalist social activists Bertha Cáceres (Honduras) or Marielle Franco (Brazil), gunned down, have never been uttered by a U.S. leader. However, the mainstream media do not stop talking about the former and keep quiet about the latter.
For Afghan women, victims of a regime brought about by Washington’s failed adventures in the Middle East, there are no kind words among the governments of the West, nor for the Yemeni women who are dying themselves and their children from starvation or bullets in a war instigated by Riyadh and supported by Washington, nor for the Cuban women who day by day face the shortages imposed by the genocidal blockade that Biden is tightening against Cuba and who, starting this Sunday, despite this, will go out to vote for more and broader rights that U.S. women lack.
Double standards, hypocrisy, and geopolitical interests, zero legitimate concern for Human Rights, is the only thing shown by the American discourse on women, whether in America, Asia or the North Pole. “Brave”, for cynics, are those who with the truth right under their noses seem to ignore it.