In the course of next week, Correos de Cuba will put on sale in all its units and newsstands, the Constitution of the Republic of Cuba that was approved in the Second Ordinary Session of the IX Legislature of the National Assembly of People’s Power, at the price of one peso in national currency. Correos […]
February 10, 2021
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
The National Classification of Economic Activities (CNAE), is integrated in 4 levels of aggregation that are distributed in 21 sections identified by an alphabetical code of one letter, subdivided in turn in 87 divisions, 237 groups, 421 classes, that in total contain 2 thousand 110 activities, limiting totally or partially some of these structures, or only certain activities, that the proposal proposes to limit 124 of them.
The list does not include activities considered illegal for all economic actors or expressly prohibited by law, such as: hunting and fishing of prohibited and endangered species, exploitation of endemic plants, child labor and forced labor, among others.
Download the list of activities where self-employment is not allowed (PDF 153 KB) (in Spanish)
Date: December 15, 2012
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Julio Jané. In 1925 he became the first Latin American to graduate as a specialist in Radiology and Radiodiagnosis. In 1927, at the age of 26, he graduated as Doctor of Medicine at the Sorbonne.[/caption]
One hundred and eleven years ago, a series of events took place in Cuba worthy of being engraved in that book of yesterday that is our national memory.
Did you ask for examples? Well, here are just a handful of them.
In that already remote 1901, Ñico Saquito, Luis Marquetti and Rafael Cueto were born to Cuban music. The National Library is founded. Havana joins the number of cities in the world that have streetcars.
Yellow fever is drastically reduced, thanks to the application of the theory enunciated by the Camagüeyan genius Carlos J. Finlay.
Meanwhile, in the southeast of Cuba, in the Villa del Guaso, on October 22, 1901, a certain couple -formed by the doctor in pharmacy Mr. Pablo Jané Trocné and his cousin Julia Jané Escobedo- is giving birth to a child. An apparently irrelevant fact, but which would later prove its transcendence.
THE CAREER OF AN ILLUSTRIOUS CUBAN
Yes, when the twentieth century was dawning, the Jané-Jané family of Guantanamo had a child, who they named Julio. Twenty-seven years later, we will find him as an assistant to that glory of world science, the Polish Marie Curie -born Marja Sklodowska-, at the Rhodium Institute in Paris. For several years he would assist in their research -until the death of the scientist- to that pinnacle of knowledge.
Julio Jané graduated in Medicine at the universities of La Sorbonne and Havana. He passed his residency exams at the French Croix Saint Simon Anti-Cancer Center (1923). In 1925 he became the first Latin American specialist in Radiology and Radiodiagnosis. Two years later, he was nominated to become the director of the surgical services of the Anti-Cancer Center of the Lariboisière Hospital in Paris.
Among many other qualifications, he obtained a degree as a nuclear energy technician from the Institute of Nuclear Studies based in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, the place in the United States where the atomic bomb was developed. He already enjoyed renown in the world scientific world, and was not lacking in offers in Paris, which he turned down to work in his country.
Armed with his talent and the solid preparation he had acquired, Julio Jané was a pioneer in science in Cuba, where he returned in 1937.
Here he put electrology to work in rehabilitation and physiotherapy. His experiments created a novel method to diagnose cancer, and he was involved in the application of ultrasound, when this resource was still in its infancy. He worked successfully in the rehabilitation of polio patients and was a sworn enemy of invasive techniques.
In El Vedado he gave life to the Electrotherapy and Radiotherapy Center. He contributed to the founding of the Radium Institute, attached to the Reina Mercedes Hospital, while at the same time he received offers to work in Barcelona or New York.
Jané collaborated with the American atomic physicist Paul C. Aebersold (1910-1967), one of the greats in the peaceful applications of nuclear science. He shared with Dr. Aebersold sympathy for the nascent Cuban revolution. Perhaps this explains why the American died, under strange circumstances, falling from a skyscraper, a fact that the American special services wanted to show as a suicide, caused by psychic imbalance.
Dr. Julio Jané was not only a leading scientist, but also a man of high civic virtue.
His deep-rooted friendship with Eduardo Chibás, with whom he shared dreams of popular improvement, was no coincidence. (When the Orthodoxo leader was wounded by his own hand, Jané was prevented from being part of the medical board that discussed the case. This refusal led many to believe that a conspiracy had taken the leader’s life).
In the midst of the official indifference to health, he gave public talks in the university Plaza Cadenas, in order to instruct the people medically. Such action would be described as subversive by the henchmen of Fulgencio Batista’s dictatorship.
Concerned about agriculture and popular food, he advocated the conservation of food by means of radiation, because, he said, “we sow to rot”.
He declared war on transnational companies that added carcinogenic substances to food.
Batista – a usurper in power – tried to develop a nuclear project and a congress on that matter, which were not going to be anything more than masquerades. Jané opposed this “and, supported by scientists of solid prestige, among them Dr. Aebersold, managed to frustrate the political attempts.
This Guantanamero descendant of Mambises, great for his brain and his heart, was an unconditional supporter of his homeland until August 8, 1973, when he went down to the grave in the Pantheon of the Revolutionary Armed Forces.
It has been said about Dr. Julio Jané that he did not value the Hippocratic Code as a cold mandate, much less as a text of professional formality and vague importance -only useful for quoting it in speeches-, but that he assumed it as a vital commitment.
(Taken from Cubahora)
By Paquita Armas Fonseca, a Cuban journalist specialized in cultural issues. She is a regular contributor to Cubadebate and other digital media such as La Jiribilla, CubaSi and the Cuban Television Portal. She was director of El Caimán Barbudo.
February 4, 2021
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Degree in Psychology, PhD in Psychological Sciences, Master in Sexuality and Sexuality Pedagogy, Professor and Senior Researcher, President of the Cuban Multidisciplinary Society for the Study of Sexuality (SOCUMES). Beatriz Torres Rodriguez is the Bety who once a week has been talking about Sexuality and daily life for 20 years, first on CHTV and then on Canal Habana.
That has been one of her jobs as a communicator, she has had others (you will find them in this text) and soon she will be the host of Miradas sin excusas, a magazine that will precede the awaited series Rompiendo el silencio (Breaking the Silence). “The panels do not comment on the chapters of the serial, but make reflections and look for alternatives and turning points to prevent gender violence to give alternatives for coping with it” stresses this charismatic psychologist:
-Why Psychology? Is there a gene in the family?
When choosing a career as a teenager, generally as in my case, there is no effective professional orientation, but I have always been a passionate reader and lover of cinema and I was attracted by the characteristics of the characters, how they faced conflicts, how there could be different alternative solutions, which not only depended on the environment in which people developed, among other elements and that approached the studies, which I later learned, were the components of the psychological framework. Also, because from what I knew was a helping profession, at that time with the vision of patients with psychiatric disorders, which constituted and constitute for me a great mystery, despite the years of professional practice.
There is no specialist in my family related to this science.
Since I was a student at the Psychology Department of the University of Havana, I became interested in this subject and received extracurricular courses given by what was at that time the National Group for Sex Education. At the same time, I began my professional practice in a Mental Health Center, and I saw how mental health disorders, whether the most complex and chronic or the most acute, mostly have an impact on sexuality and life as a couple, at different ages of life, which leads to present, from discomfort related to this area, to disorders, with a great burden of suffering in most cases.
This was later enriched by working at the Center for Medical and Surgical Research, where I expanded my diapason to the accompaniment and treatment of patients with chronic diseases, especially non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and chronic kidney disease among others and the impact they have on sexuality, not only because of the disease itself, but also because of all the stigmas and prejudices of the patient himself, the couple, the team of professionals and society, mostly due to the lack of knowledge or undervaluation of these issues and the impact they have on the welfare of people regardless of the disease they have.
For ten years I have been the president of the Cuban Multidisciplinary Society for the Study of Sexuality (SOCUMES), one of its multiple lines of research is precisely gender violence.
In recent years I have also participated in counseling for women in situations of gender violence, where the implications are very marked in their sexuality, self-esteem and well-being, among others. In other words, for me it is an area of knowledge of great need and sensitivity and that, in our culture, since it is considered by the majority of the population as a private matter, people delay a lot in asking for help and in some cases do not do it at all.
-Where and when did you start as a communicator?
I started in 2000 on TV in CHTV, in its magazine, with the session Sexuality and daily life, with journalist Dianik Flores, a session that I later continued in Canal Habana, since its foundation 15 years ago, together with a group of prestigious directors and hosts such as Sandra, Magdiel and the entire production team, which has allowed me to grow as a person and as a professional and a systematic dialogue with viewers, because I keep a space within the session to answer them, based on the questions of the topics presented in the space. This exchange has been very enriching and I have been given alternatives of help or orientation to different services in the cases I require. Hearing, analyzing and learning from other colleagues whom I admire and who also have their section in the Magazine, has been very useful for me.
I have participated in other TV programs, such as El triángulo de la confianza, De tarde en casa, Entre tú y yo and Pasaje a lo desconocido, among others.
In addition, since 2005 and for several years, I developed in the newspaper Trabajadores a digital consultation on sexuality in their health page. The session was called “Let’s talk about sexuality”, which for years was a very interesting experience, receiving various questions from people of different ages, marital status, schooling, even from other countries, which allowed me to get feedback on the issues that most often concerned the population about sexuality and life as a couple and that many did not dare to raise, neither to their own partners, nor in the space of consultation, so we could see the usefulness of this space. I would like to acknowledge the collaboration of the journalist Carmen Alfonso, in charge of this health page.
I have seen the importance of communication on these issues in the media, since it allows a large group in the population to become aware, reflect and learn. At the same time, as a specialist, it has helped me to be aware of what concerns the population the most, in order to be able to offer help alternatives.
-Have you taken a speech course?
In 2008-2009, together with other specialists in charge of sessions at Canal Habana and a group of journalists, I took a speech course, which was very useful and a necessary learning experience.
-How long did you prepare for this job?
I was invited to be the host or moderator of the panels of specialists of the magazine Miradas sin excusas, before the presentation of the chapters of the serial Rompiendo el silencio. Although the preparation time was short, we had the necessary and deep table work, both with its director and screenwriter Elena Palacios, Altair Reyes, the head of production and advisor Karina Paz, magnificent professionals, with whom we developed an excellent teamwork.
In addition, for some years, I have had an approach from the research with the problems related to gender violence, I was one of the coordinators of the Consensus of Gender Violence, organized in 2018 by SOCUMES and in the meetings of researchers in gender violence, organized by the Oscar Arnulfo Romero Center. For the last 5 years, we have jointly organized a colloquium on this topic. For three years I have been part of the counseling team for women in situations of gender violence in this institution. All this has made it easier for me to raise awareness and deepen my knowledge of these issues.
-What topics will be discussed?
It is a specialized magazine of analysis of the different expressions of gender violence, which will serve as a framework for the two seasons of the series Breaking the Silence. It tells the stories of women and girls in situations of violence, in its different forms of presentation, from the most recognized and obvious, such as physical violence and sexual abuse, to the more subtle, but no less serious, such as psychological and other types of violence. In its second season, it expands and diversifies to other forms of violence, such as violence against men. There is a representation of the different contexts where it can occur, such as the family, the couple, school, work, among others.
Its first season was intentionally broadcast in early December 2016, in the framework of the Day for Non-Violence against Women and Girls. For the first time, a national teleseries addressed this issue of gender violence as a central axis, which continues in its second season as a common thread.
The themes of this second season are related to:
Sexual violence against girls, adolescents and adult women in its different forms of expression.
The consequences of gender violence affect the main victims (women), but also the rest of the family members and the perpetrators themselves.
One of the consequences of GBV is the reproduction of violence, particularly for women in the double condition of victim-victimizer.
Symbolic violence that uses women’s bodies to exercise control.
Gender violence towards homosexual men, homophobia, transphobia, paternity and homosexuality.
Rape within the family.
Violence between men.
Stories of characters with their conflicts, limited situations and responses to them are presented, with the aim of provoking recognition, analysis and awareness of this phenomenon of gender violence.
-Could you comment on the specialists?
The panels were composed of specialists from different fields of knowledge, who had two characteristics in common:
They were experts in their fields of knowledge and in issues related to GBV.
They are very sensitive to these issues.
We had 58 appearances, according to the characteristics of the topics, there were experts who participated in more than one panel on several occasions. Psychologists, Sociologists, Jurists, Journalists, Anthropologists, Pedagogues, Doctors, Historians, Filmmakers, Communicators and Photography Professionals, among others, were represented. Teamwork was achieved and the most important thing, in my opinion, is that we sought to enlighten the population on these issues, to see the signs of GBV, its causes, repercussions in the family, society, the different alternatives to face it and where to find turning points in the different situations that arise, in order not to reproduce violence and, most importantly, to prevent it.
-Any recommendations for viewers?
Not to be alarmed by these issues, since the important thing is to recognize the different forms of GBV, and that this is a social problem of such importance, that to stop at the number, or if it is more or less frequent, is not the essential thing, but if a single woman, girl or any person is in these situations, it deserves all our effort and attention. The most important thing is to PREVENT, so that GBV and any form of violence does not become naturalized. Hence the political will of our country and its institutions to achieve an effective, comprehensive and integrated response. This magazine is part of this effort, of the many that are needed.
The FMC, together with other institutions, is leading this strategy, which is already showing signs such as the helpline and the Women’s Advancement Program, among others.
-Is there anything I haven’t asked you or anything you’d also like to say?
Finally, I would like to thank once again the entire team of the magazine and Ms. Mareleen Díaz Tenorio, with whom we had a systematic exchange during the entire filming process, since she was the capable advisor of the series Breaking the Silence.
(Taken from TVC’s website)
November 12, 2012
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Intelligence, rigor, will, imagination, passion… these were some of the qualities of Marie Curie, the first woman to win the Nobel Prize. But there were more things in which she was a pioneer. We list them below:
1. Top of her class when she finished high school at the age of 15 (1883). She was awarded a gold medal.
2. The first woman to graduate in Physics at the Sorbonne University. That year (1893) only two women graduated in the entire University of Paris. Marie was also the first in her class.
3. The first person to use the term radioactivity (1898).
4. The first woman in Europe to receive a doctorate in science (1903).
5. The first woman to receive a Nobel Prize in Physics (1903). The prize was awarded to her, together with her husband Pierre and Henri Becquerel, for the discovery of radioactivity.
6. The first woman to be a professor and head of laboratory at the Sorbonne University (1906).
7. The first person to have two Nobel Prizes. The second was in Chemistry, in 1911, for having prepared radium and researched its compounds.
8. The first woman to be a member of the French Academy of Medicine (1922).
9. The first Nobel mother with a Nobel daughter. In 1935 her daughter Irene was awarded the prize in Chemistry.
10. The first woman to be buried under the dome of the Pantheon on her own merits (1995).
By Carlos del Porto
November 7, 2017
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Maria Curie was a Polish physicist, mathematician and chemist, and a naturalized French citizen. She was the fifth daughter of Władysław Skłodowski, a high school teacher in physics and mathematics like her grandfather, and Bronisława Boguska, who was a teacher, pianist and singer.
In 1891, at the age of 24, Maria enrolled in the Mathematical and Natural Sciences Department at the Sorbonne University in Paris, France. From that moment on, Maria was renamed Marie Skłodowska. Despite having a solid cultural background acquired in a self-taught way, Marie had to work hard to improve her knowledge of French, mathematics and physics, in order to keep up with her peers.
In 1893, she obtained a degree in Physics and came first in her class; in 1894, she also graduated in Mathematics, coming second in her class. In that year she also met her future husband, Pierre Curie, who was a professor of physics. The two began working together in the laboratories and married on July 26, 1895.
After a double degree, the next challenge was to obtain a doctorate. Up to that time, the only woman who had been awarded a doctorate was the German Elsa Neumann. The first step was to choose the topic of her thesis. After discussing it with her husband, they both decided to focus on the work of physicist Henri Becquerel, who had discovered that uranium salts transmitted rays of an unknown nature. This work was related to the recent discovery of X-rays by the physicist Wilhelm Röntgen. Marie Curie became interested in this work and, with the help of her husband, decided to investigate the nature of the radiation produced by uranium salts.
Marie Curie and Pierre Curie studied radioactive leaves, in particular uranium in the form of pitchblende, which had the curious property of being more radioactive than the uranium extracted from it. The logical explanation was to suppose that the pitchblende contained pieces of some element much more radioactive than uranium. They also discovered that thorium could produce radioactivity. After several years of constant work, by concentrating various kinds of pitchblende, they isolated two new chemical elements.
The first, in 1898, was named Polonium in reference to their native country. The other element was named Radium, due to its intense radioactivity. Pierre had periods of great fatigue that even forced him to rest in bed, and both suffered burns and sores from their dangerous radioactive work. Shortly thereafter Marie obtained one gram of radium chloride, which she achieved after handling almost eight tons of pitchblende. In 1902 they presented the result, which brought them fame. Both Pierre and Marie accept and lend all their research without making any profit from it by means of patents, a fact that is applauded by the whole world.
Directed by Becquerel himself, on June 25, 1903, Marie defended her doctoral thesis, entitled Investigations on Radioactive Substances, before a tribunal presided over by the physicist Gabriel Lippmann. She obtained her doctorate and was awarded cum laude. Together with Henri Becquerel and Pierre Curie, Marie was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1903, “in recognition of the extraordinary services rendered in their joint research on the radiation phenomena discovered by Henri Becquerel”. She was the first woman to receive such an award.
On April 19, 1906, a tragedy occurred: Pierre was run over by a six-ton carriage and died without anything being done for him. Marie was greatly affected, but continued with her work and refused a life pension. She also took over her husband’s professorship and was the first woman to teach at the university in the 650 years since its founding. On November 15, 1906, Marie Curie gave her first lecture. Expectations were high, as it was the first time a woman had taught a class at the university. A large number of people attended; many of them were not even students. In that first session, Marie spoke about radioactivity.
In 1910 she demonstrated that a gram of pure radium could be obtained. The following year she received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry “in recognition of her services to the advancement of Chemistry by the discovery of the elements Radium and Polonium, the isolation of Radium and the study of the nature and compounds of this element”.
With a disinterested attitude, she did not patent the process of Radium isolation, leaving it open to the research of the entire scientific community. Marie Curie was the first person to be awarded two Nobel Prizes in two different fields. The other person to have won it so far is Linus Pauling (Chemistry and Peace). Two Nobel Prizes in the same field have been won by John Bardeen (Physics) and Frederick Sanger (Chemistry).
A few months after her last visit to Poland, in the spring of 1934, Curie, after going blind, died on July 4, 1934 at the Sancellemoz Clinic, near Passy (Haute-Savoie, France), from aplastic anemia, probably due to the radiation to which she was exposed in her work, and whose harmful effects were still unknown. She was buried next to her husband in the cemetery of Sceaux, a few kilometers south of Paris.
Sixty years later, in 1995, her remains were transferred, together with those of Pierre, to the Pantheon in Paris. In the speech delivered at the solemn entry ceremony, on April 20, 1995, the then President of the French Republic, François Mitterrand, addressing especially her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, emphasized that Marie had been the first woman to be buried in the Pantheon, noted that Marie, who had been the first French woman to be a Doctor of Science, to be a professor at the Sorbonne and also to receive a Nobel Prize, was again the first French woman to be laid to rest in the famous Pantheon in Paris on her own merits (in which she remains the only one to this day).
Her eldest daughter, Irène Joliot-Curie (1897 – 1956), also won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, in 1935, one year after her mother’s death, for her discovery of artificial radioactivity.
She founded the Curie Institute in Paris and in Warsaw, and in addition to the two Nobel Prizes, won the Davy Medal in 1903, the Matteucci Medal in 1904 and the Willard Gibbs Prize in 1921.
Author: Víctor Fowler
email@example.comJanuary 01 to January 25, 2021
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
On December 1, 1955, during a public bus ride in Montgomery City, Alabama, a 42-year-old black seamstress named Rosa Parks refused to give a white man the seat in which she was sitting. The codes of segregated behavior at the time included that Black people (in the southern states) paid their fare by boarding at the front door, where the driver was located, alighted to re-enter the bus now at the rear door, and only then sought accommodation in the back seats. Black people were not even allowed to walk through the aisle of the bus between white passengers to the back of the bus.
If they acted otherwise, for example, by remaining seated (which is what Parks did), the driver – who, in all likelihood, would offend the offender – was to call the police to take them to the station and, later, to try and punish the Black man or woman foolish enough to violate the rules. A little more than ten years earlier, Parks herself had had an altercation when, after paying, she refused to enter through the back door; on that occasion, rather than be arrested, Parks chose to leave the bus.
The above episode is known as one of the main moments, the detonator, of a protest of leaders and, in general, Black demonstrators who – opposed to this segregationist practice – maintained a boycott against the company that extended, heroically, throughout a year and that would draw the attention of the mass media of the entire country to the violence and cruelty of racial discrimination in the South of the American nation. As stated from the very beginning of the volume Civil Rights in America. Racial desegregation of public accommodations. A National Historic Landmarks theme study:
Physical separation of the races in public accommodations was an uncomfortable and degrading practice for those who were denied equal access. Segregation in theaters, restaurants, hotels and buses was a constant irritation in daily life and an insulting nuisance. This resulted in direct confrontations between racial minorities who demanded their right to pay for goods and services in the marketplace, and white business owners who demanded the right to only serve whom they chose.[i] The segregation of theaters, restaurants, hotels, and buses was a constant irritant in daily life and an insulting nuisance.
The roots of the problem extend to the beginning of the 19th century when the northern states of what would become the United States of America virtually abolished slavery thanks to a variety of “constitutional, judicial or legislative” actions (p. 6). At the same time, in the South, the practices of separation between races intensified.
Along with this, the anxiety of contact meant that in the most racist nuclei of the northern elites, efforts to extend spaces differentiated according to skin color also multiplied. An example of this is the introduction of cars for Black people on trains and the numerous cases of protest and refusal to travel in them (even the great black abolitionist Frederick Douglass was removed from his seat on one occasion for refusing to change cars).
An 1857 court case, Scott v. Sandford (where a slave, Dred Scott, tried to prove that – because he had resided in non-slave states – he should be considered a free man), was to have enormous consequences for the struggles that were to take place a hundred years later and that we know today as the Civil Rights Movement. In the Dred Scott case, which Scott lost, the Supreme Court ruled not only that the plaintiff was not a citizen, but that “Congress had no authority to prohibit slavery in the territories”.
In other words, decisions about slavery (and others in this area involving customs) were left to the states and local governments. Another important decision was Hall v. DeCuir (1877) where it was decided that “the laws of a state are not applicable to interstate ship voyages and that only Congress can regulate interstate commerce”. Finally, Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) opened the door for the extension of “segregation of the races, provided the separate facilities were of equal quality.” [ii]
Although protests throughout the century led seven southern states to eliminate laws that favored segregation in the public space, legal decisions such as those mentioned above made possible a reality where supply found its most evident application in Black individuals of high economic capacity .For the same price as their white counterparts, Blacks could travel in a sophisticated train carriage, while in the lower economic strata the difference was perfectly visible in the quality of supply and in the treatment received.
Parks’ arrest was followed by a mobilization on her behalf whose movers and shakers included Edgar Daniel (E. D.) Nixon, leader of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters (with whom Parks had worked in the NAACP); Clifford Durr, a white Montgomery lawyer and strong advocate of interracial democracy with his wife Virginia; Jo Ann Gibson, an English professor at Alabama State College; and – among the clergy who offered support – a young pastor, just 26 years old, named Martin Luther King Jr. The success of the boycott, planned to last one day, was such that the organizers decided to extend it, and so it ended up spanning an entire year; along the way, on January 30, 1956, a bomb exploded in King’s house and on February 21 -along with almost 90 protest leaders- he was arrested and charged with having organized a boycott considered illegal. On November 13, the Supreme Court ruled that the Fourteenth Amendment prohibited racial segregation in interstate as well as intrastate travel, and so, on December 21, 1956, Reverend King “along with several black and white companions boarded a bus for a historic unsegregated ride” (p. 46).
From this point on, the life of Martin Luther King Jr. began to become more risky, complex and to grow into a legend. The son and grandson of Baptist pastors, a pastor himself, MLK developed his political, social, religious and cultural action in the brief period from 1955 to April 4, 1968, the date on which he died in Memphis, assassinated by James Earl Ray, a racist shooter. In this brief period, he became a leading figure in the Montgomery bus boycott (1955-1956); he helped found and was the first president (1957) of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLS); led the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in August 1963, where he delivered his famous I Have a Dream speech, recognized as one of the most important pieces of oratory delivered in the country; was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964 and was a leading figure in securing passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. In addition, he was the central figure in two of the greatest battles for civil rights: those that took place in the cities of Birmingham and Selma, both in the state of Alabama, in 1963.
In the first of these, on April 13, 1963, King was arrested and during the three days he was behind bars he wrote his well-known Letter from Birmingham Jail in which he said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable tissue of mutuality, bound together in a simple fabric of destiny. Anything that affects one directly affects all indirectly.” In that same document, MLK would explain the essence of nonviolence (the Gandhian-inspired mode of protest that he breathed into the Civil Rights Movement) as follows:
Why direct action, sit-ins, marches and the like? Isn’t negotiation a better way? You are exactly right in your call for negotiation. Indeed, that is the purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and establish such creative tension that a community that has consistently refused to negotiate is forced to confront the problem. (…) I have worked and preached vigorously against violent tension, but there is a kind of constructive nonviolent tension that is necessary for growth.[iii] I have worked and preached vigorously against violent tension, but there is a kind of constructive nonviolent tension that is necessary for growth.[iii]
The condition of nonviolence could only find its foundation in the love that cares for the suffering other and that, as part of God’s created works, even embraces the other who oppresses. Because of this, King’s nonviolence opposes both the part of the Black community that accommodates segregation (be it the lower strata or the academic sectors) and those who preach hatred and separation between the races (which, in context, pointed to the Black nationalists of Elijah Muhammad).
Martin Luther King’s social thought reached its greatest radicalism when, in an endeavor that would bring him multiple misunderstandings (even among leaders of the anti-racist struggles) as well as numerous new enemies (both among whites and Blacks), he became one of the most prominent intellectuals and political figures who publicly opposed the Vietnam War. The statement that gained the greatest resonance in this regard was the speech Beyond Vietnam: The Time to Break the Silence, delivered on April 4, 1967, at Riverside Church before an audience of about 300 people, exactly one year before his death, whose first sentence was: “Tonight I have come to this magnificent house of worship because my conscience leaves me no other choice”, and where he singled out the United States as “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today”. The finesse of the socio-political analysis that MLK was able to develop shines through in excerpts such as the following:
Repeatedly we have been confronted with the cruel irony of watching black and white youths on television screens as they kill and die together for a nation that has been unable to seat them together in the same schools. We have seen them in brutal solidarity, burning shacks in a poor village, but we understand that they would never live together on the same block in Detroit. I cannot remain silent in the face of this cruel manipulation of the poor.[iv] Increasingly, by choice or by choice alone, the poor are being manipulated.
Increasingly, by choice or by accident, this is the role our nation has played – the role of those who make peaceful revolutions impossible by refusing to give up the privileges and pleasures that come from the immense benefits of investments across the sea.
I am convinced that, if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we need, as a nation, to undergo a radical revolution of values. We need to quickly begin the transformation from a “things-oriented” society to a “people-oriented” society. When property rights and the profit motive are more important than the person, it is impossible to conquer the gigantic trio of racism, materialism and militarism.[v] (Idem)
The other enormous cause to which MLK devoted a great deal of energy was the struggle of American workers for better wages, health care, education for their children, and decent housing. The satisfaction of such demands had to derive, in Luther King’s thinking, from the action of workers integrated into a powerful, organized, highly conscious and nonviolent labor movement; the speech delivered to the Illinois state labor union meeting on October 7, 1965, in Springfield is an illustration of that idea as the following quote shows:
The labor movement was the main force transforming misery and despair into hope and progress. As a result of hard-fought battles, economic and social reforms gave birth to unemployment insurance, age pensions, government assistance for the indigent, and, above all, new standards of living that meant mere survival, if not tolerable living. The captains of industry did not lead this transformation; they held out until they were overrun.[vi]
For Cornel West, editor of the volume The Radical King, MLK’s growing engagement with progressive guild leaders “is integral to his calling”; according to the well-known scholar, poverty was for King not only “a barbaric form of tyranny to be banished from the Earth,” but that “the greatness of nations or civilizations is measured not by military might, architectural prowess, or the number of multimillionaire citizens; the greatness of who or what we rather consist in how we treat the least of these: the weak, the vulnerable, the orphan, the widow, the widow, the stranger, the poor, the marginal, and the prisoner (West, 2014).
MLK’s last (and unfinished) great battle was the so-called “Poor People’s March” -which sought to repeat the massive demonstration of people in front of the Capitol in Washington, which in 1963 had attracted a quarter of a million people-, but now to demand a fairer redistribution of wealth in the country. In political terms, the most outstanding feature of this new mobilization was that it was intended to convene and represent a multiracial sector which, in addition to Black Americans, was intended to include Native Americans, Mexicans, Puerto Ricans and poor white Americans. Thus, in a speech delivered in New York on March 10, 1968, he was able to say:
Now, I said poor people, too, and by that I mean all poor people. When we go to Washington we are going to have black people with us because black people are poor, but we are also going to have Puerto Ricans because Puerto Ricans are poor in the United States of America. We are going to have Mexican-Americans because they are mistreated. We are going to have Native Americans because they are mistreated. And for those who don’t let their prejudices lead them to blindly support their oppressors, along with us in Washington we’re going to have Appalachian whites (West, 2014).
MLK’s last public speech was the sermon he delivered in Memphis the night before his assassination. Known as I Have Been to the Mountaintop, this beautiful oratorical piece is inspired by the biblical story of Moses (who, after the Exodus, leads the people of Israel to the very Holy Land, although he dies without entering it) to establish a chilling parallel -in light of what was to happen the next day- between the biblical prophet and Martin Luther King himself. Following several investigations and testimonies about those last weeks, the amount of pitfalls, persecution, threats and misunderstanding around MLK damaged his spirit and health, to the point of causing depression and lack of sleep, among other ailments. Some testimonies even speak of the fact that, after years of threat, MLK began to feel, foresee or expect to meet an early death. The speech begins with a strange proposition that the speaker receives from the Almighty himself: to choose the era in which he prefers to live and this, after a long journey through time, turns out to be the one in which we find ourselves. At the end, after mentioning the possible threats to his life, MLK pronounced the following closing paragraph:
We’re going to have some tough days ahead, but I’m not interested in that right now. Because I’ve been to the top of the mountain. And I don’t worry about it. Like anyone else, I’d like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not worried about it now. I just want to fulfill God’s wishes and He has allowed me to climb the mountain. And I’ve looked around. And I have seen the Promised Land. I may not go in there with you, but I want you to know tonight that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land. And I am happy, tonight. I am not worried about anything. I fear no man. My eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord (West, 2014).
During the funeral of Martin Luther King Jr., following the wishes of his widow, Coretta, excerpts from the sermon entitled The major drum, King delivered on February 4, 1968, at his Ebenezer Church in Atlanta, Georgia, were heard. May these words serve as a farewell:
If any of you are around when it’s my turn to find my day, I don’t want a long funeral. And if you have someone to say the eulogy, tell them not to talk too much. (…)
Tell him not to mention that I have a Nobel Peace Prize, for that is not important.
Tell him not to mention that I have been awarded three or four hundred other recognitions, because this is not important.
Tell them not to mention where I went to school.
But I would like someone to mention that day that Martin Luther King Jr. tried to give his life in service to others.
I would like someone to say that day that Martin Luther King Jr. tried to love someone.
I want you to say that I tried to take the right stand on the issue of war. I want you to be able to say that day that I tried to feed the hungry.
And I want you to be able to say that in my life I tried to clothe the naked.
I want you to be able to say that day that I tried to visit those who were in prison.
I want you to say that I tried to love and serve humanity.
Yes, say – if you wish – that I was a drum major; say that I was a drum major for justice.
Say I was a drum major for peace.
I was a drum major for honesty and all the other superficial things won’t matter.
I had no money to leave behind me.
I didn’t have the fine and luxurious things of life to leave behind me.
But I do want to leave a life of commitment and this is all I want to say.
If I can help someone as I pass.
If I can celebrate someone with a word or song.
If I can show someone that their journey is wrong,
then my life will not have been in vain.
If I can do my duty as a Christian,
If I can bring salvation to this world once built,
If I can spread the message as the master taught,
then my life will not have been in vain.
Yes, Jesus, I want to be at your right hand and at your left, But not for any selfish reason.
I want to be on your right and on your left, not in terms of some political kingdom or ambition, but I want to be right there in love and justice, in truth and commitment to others, so that it will make this old world a new world. (Idem)
[i] Cianci Salvatore, Susan. Civil Rights in America. Racial desegregation of public accommodations. A National Historic Landmarks theme study. Washington, D. C.: National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, 2009.
[ii] Schultz, David (ed.) Encyclopedia of the Supreme Court. New York: Facts of File, 2005.
[iii] West, Cornel (ed.) The radical King. Boston: Beacon Press, 2014.
[vi] King, Jr., Martin Luther. All labor has dignity. Boston: Beacon Press, 2011.
By: Randy Alonso Falcón
January 27, 2021
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
“It will not be an exhausted and outdated world order that can save humanity and create the indispensable natural conditions for a dignified and decent life on the planet. (…) This is not an ideological question; it is already a question of life or death for the human species.”
Fidel Castro Ruz
Speech at the Open Tribune of the Revolution, held in San José de las Lajas
January 27, 2001
Solidarity and Justice are still words in disuse even when the catastrophe concerns us all, like a great universal Titanic. A tiny and sticky virus has moved fears, shaken societies and health systems, provoked countless reflections on today and the future, but it has not succeeded in making equity and love for others prosper.
This week will mark the 100 millionth person infected with COVID-19 in the world and already more than 2 million people have died.
“Every day the gap between the haves and have-nots grows. The pandemic has reminded us that health and economics are linked and that we are all in the same boat. The pandemic will not end until it ends everywhere,” said World Health Organization Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Monday.
The numbers bear incontrovertible witness to the expert’s assessment.
Despite numerous calls from the UN and various world leaders to seek a global response to the pandemic and to facilitate and share access to a cure for the disease, narrow views and deaf ears predominate.
“Science is succeeding, but solidarity is failing,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres noted on January 15. Several vaccines are already available worldwide to tackle the SARS-CoV-2 virus, but access to them is as deeply unequal as the world we inhabit.
Some 66.33 million doses have been administered to date, 93% of which were delivered in just 15 countries: the US, China, UK, Israel, United Arab Emirates, Germany, India, Italy, Turkey, Spain, France and Russia, according to the data analysis platform Our World in Data, based on figures from Oxford University.
In all of sub-Saharan Africa, only 25 doses of vaccine could be administered in Guinea. Populous countries like Nigeria, with 200 million inhabitants, are waiting for the first dose.
The same scramble that took place at the beginning of the pandemic with lung ventilators, masks and protective suits is now being staged with vaccines: hoarding, overpricing and speculation. “An immoral race to the bottom,” as the WHO’s top executive described it.
The COVAX fund, created as a sort of global effort to make vaccines accessible to the poorest nations or those with limited resources, announced that in February it will begin to deliver the first doses (they first said that in January), but it recognizes that it has been limited by the lucrative agreements of various individual nations with the pharmaceutical companies that produce the anti-COVID vaccines.
Another handicap has been the high cost of the vaccines that have the most international approval so far. As Norwegian expert John-Arne Rottingen told The Guardian, “The difficulty is that we really only have widespread international approval for marketing two vaccines: the two mRNA vaccines. The challenge is that one, the Moderna vaccine is very expensive, and the other, the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine, which was first available and is now being applied in Europe, is moderately expensive compared to others, and requires a super cold chain. The price and cold chain makes it not the ideal vaccines for a global vaccine.”
While nations like India and South Africa are calling on the WHO to campaign for pharmaceutical companies to relinquish intellectual property rights to COVID-19 vaccines and treatments. That would allow other qualified manufacturers in the South to expand production of those antidotes; countries like the US, UK and Canada have opposed the initiative. Those three wealthy nations have purchased or reserved enough doses to inoculate their populations at least four times.
High-income countries account for 16% of the world’s population, but hold more than 60% of the vaccines purchased so far.
Rich countries account for the lion’s share of vaccine production. Graphic: The Guardian
Some forecasts put the total population of middle-income and poor countries that could be vaccinated this year at 27%. Duke University’s Center for Global Health Innovation estimates that there will not be enough vaccines to immunize the world’s population until at least 2023.
“The world is on the brink of a catastrophic moral failure, and the price of this failure will be paid in lives and livelihoods in the world’s poorest countries,” Dr. Tedros regretfully sentenced.
“Vaccine nationalism” is the exact reflection of an unequal and unjust world in which a few remain the great beneficiaries of wealth, for which billions must make do with the leftovers.
It is the “inequality virus” that OXFAM denounces in its most recent report, in which it evidences that the current failed economic system “allows a super-rich elite to continue to accumulate wealth in the midst of the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression, while billions of people face great hardship to get by.”
While billionaires saw their fortunes increase between March and December 2020 by a total volume of $3.9 trillion-to amass an unimaginable $11.95 trillion-the poorest people on the planet will need “more than a decade to recover from the economic impacts of the crisis” accentuated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Racial differences have also deepened. In the United States, the most powerful nation on the planet, if mortality rates were equal to those of the white population, nearly 22,000 Latinos and blacks would not have died from the coronavirus outbreak. In Brazil, people of African descent are 40% more likely to die from COVID than whites.
One of the conclusions of the Oxfam report is that “the pandemic is likely to increase inequality in a way never seen before”. The World Bank has warned that, in the current context, more than 100 million people could reach extreme poverty.
The 10 richest men in the world saw their net worth increase by $540 billion in the pandemic 2020 period. That list is topped by Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk. It also includes luxury group LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault, Bill Gates and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. According to Oxfam, the money hoarded by these potentates would be enough to prevent people from falling into poverty due to the effects of the virus and would also guarantee a vaccine for everyone on the planet.
Among so much inequity and indifference, a small archipelago in the Caribbean, called Cuba, has been able to send thousands of doctors and nurses, in some 50 brigades of the “Henry Reeve” Internationalist Contingent, to more than thirty countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, Europe, Africa and the Middle East, to collaborate in the fight against the deadly disease.
Thousands of lives saved or recovered in a scenario of total complexity are the fruit of their solidarity work. The human and professional quality of these sons and daughters of the Cuban people overcomes the most diverse obstacles. It leaves a mark of affection, gratitude and example that is recognized by all those with whom they have shared and whom they have cared for.
That same country, with scarce economic resources but abundant in trained and educated talent, has been able to build an advanced biopharmaceutical industry, which is now preparing to produce 100 million doses of Soberana 02, one of the 4 vaccines on which its scientists are working. This would make it possible to immunize the entire Cuban population (it would be one of the first countries to achieve this) and to have more than 70 million doses available for other peoples of the South. There are already countries interested in acquiring it, such as Vietnam, Iran and Venezuela, Pakistan and India, the Director General of the Finlay Vaccine Institute recently announced.
Researchers from that institution are working with countries such as Italy and Canada to test the impact of the Soberana 01 vaccine on people who have already had COVID-19 and are convalescing, but are at risk of reinfection.
“We are not a multinational where (financial) return is the number one reason. We work the other way around, creating more health and return is a consequence, it is never going to be the priority,” Dr. Vicente Vérez, leader of the main vaccine research center in Cuba, explained to the press last week.
“Our world can only beat this virus one way: united,” the UN Secretary-General recently emphasized. Unfortunately, the vaccines of solidarity and justice have not been able to be applied in the rich world that dominates.
Filmmaker Nina Gladitz did not rest in tracking down what she called the sinister side of what was once called “the eye of Hitler”
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
“The search for beauty in the image, above all and of all”, was the pretext used by the filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl every time she was reproached for having put her talent at the service of Nazism, and especially of Hitler, of whom she said in her memoirs (1987) that, after meeting him in a rally held in Berlin, 1932, “it was as if the earth opened up before me”.
Riefenstahl lived 101 years (1902-2003) and her actions have fueled a debate that involves art and ideology with the social and ethical responsibility of the artist.
Many did not forgive her fabricated naiveté to shake off a stigma that linked her to the crimes of Nazism, but there were those who extended a mantle of benevolence over her by arguing for the transcendence of her documentary, perfectionist and avant-garde work in German cinema.
Today, films such as The Triumph of the Will and Olympia are considered masterpieces of propaganda, based on a renovating formal aesthetic, taking into account the years in which they were conceived, and their capacity to transform reality into “ideological art”, if that is the concept for an ideology of extermination.
The first of these films turns the National Socialist [Nazi Party] Congress, held in Nuremberg in 1934, into an epic event of multitudes and leaders feverish with the word of a Hitler deified in images.
Olympia (1938) takes up again the fervor of the Führer for ancient Greece to link the 1936 Berlin Olympics with a symbolism of the Nazi racial myth, claiming that the proclaimed German civilization, superior in all respects, was the heir to an Aryan culture from classical antiquity.
“She is the only one of the stars who truly understands us”, Goebbels had said of the filmmaker in 1933, shortly after Hitler, a hardened film buff, signed her as the quintessential film diffuser of his party’s ideology.
The same Leni Riefenstahl, beautiful, willing, with a past that linked her to sports and snowy mountain climbing; also a dancer and actress who came to rival Greta Garbo in roles, was considered by Hitler an ideal of classic perfection. He put a lot of resources at her disposal and made her a pampered member of the group formed by the flower and cream of Berlin’s Nazism, who applauded her “neat and moving” style. And while there were those who spoke of a romance, she always denied it: “It wasn’t sexy, if it had been sexy, we would have naturally been lovers”. This did not prevent her from affirming, years later, that the triumph of Nazism had not been a political reaction, but the unusual adoration “of a unique leader”.
Riefenstahl managed to get Hitler to extend a high budget in 1940 to bring Tiefland (Lowland) to the screen, inspired by an opera (1903) by Eugen d’Albert that took place in Spain. The film would not be released until 1954 because, in addition to the author’s pedigree, there was something murky about it that had not been fully unraveled: Where had the gypsies from a concentration camp gone, since extras with a Mediterranean look were needed?
A murmur spread then: after the filming of Tiefland, those extras had been deported to Auschwitz.
Leni Riefenstahl, who after the war was investigated several times, subjected to four denazification processes, and finally exonerated under the ruling that she was only a “sympathizer” of the Nazis, protested against what she called slander and swore that she still had news, and even correspondence, with those gypsies.
In later years she would condemn the barbarism of which, she assured, she had witnessed nothing and used to reply to those who accused her: “my thing was art, to capture an era, a perception of ideology and not unrestricted support. Tell me, where is my fault, I did not throw atomic bombs, I have not denied anyone, where is my fault?”
In 1982, the gypsy nebula was brought to light in a television documentary by German filmmaker Nina Gladitz. The young filmmaker had located the descendants and they claimed that the director of Tiefland treated the extras like servants and then returned them to their origin, the Maxglan concentration camp in Austria, from where they were transferred, and killed, in the gas chamber of Auschwitz.
Leni complained to Gladitz, and although most of her allegations did not come to fruition, she came out saying that she had won the lawsuit. Her work had received by then a kind of rehabilitation, after the documentary Olympia had been shown, in 1972. When the filmmaker turned one hundred years old, she was, for many, more a legend admired for her technical and artistic contributions to cinema than a “circumstantial suspect” of having taken the symbols of Nazism to starry planes.
But the filmmaker Nina Gladitz did not rest in tracing what she called the sinister side of the woman who, at the time, had been called “the eye of Hitler”. A few days ago she published a book in which she exposes the complicity of Riefenstahl, and not only in “the artistic”. Documents show that 40 of the 53 gypsies were killed without the director doing anything to stop it, after having recruited them herself. Also, supported by archival materials, she reveals that the names of important collaborating filmmakers, such as Willy Zielke, who filmed the initial takes of Olympia (and ended up sterilized and mentally ill), were erased from her films, in addition to Leni interceding with Hitler’s top brass to prevent other filmmakers from filming; a behavior of which not a word had ever been said and in which she highlights -among other examples- the elimination of the credits, as co-director in Blue Light, of the Hungarian Béla Balázs.
According to Nina Gladitz’s book, the talented Willy Zielke was taken out of the asylum by Leni Riefenstahl with the aim of turning him into a prisoner-assistant. Shortly before the end of the war, she burned almost all the files she owned in the gardens of her villa. Judging by classified French intelligence materials reviewed by Gladitz, that fire included scenes of the destruction of a Jewish ghetto shot on Hitler’s orders, although no one knows if the film ever materialized.
A definitive adjustment then for the filmmaker who ran to film the Nazi invasion of Poland, where she was photographed in uniform, together with German soldiers and carrying a gun around her waist, and for whom, after the occupation of Paris, she wrote the following telegram to Hitler: “With indescribable joy, deeply moved and full of ardent gratitude, we share with you, my Führer, your greatest victory and that of Germany, the entry of German troops into Paris. You surpass all that the human imagination has the power to conceive, achieving facts without parallel in the history of humanity. How can we ever thank you? Congratulating you is too little to express the feelings that move me.”
How was that cable possible, Leni Riefenstahl was once asked, and she, with the unheard of “naivety” that some people still use at times to alternate with their inexplicable ravings, replied: “Everyone thought the war was over, and in that spirit, I sent the cable.”
A MATTER OF LAW
The new Family Code is one of the norms that should be born in line with the constitutional precepts regarding the approach to violence in this area
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Myths about family violence are as old as each of its manifestations. And they are absolutely false.
That only physical assaults are expressions of violence, and that nothing else occurs in low-income households in marginal places, are some of the most common beliefs.
The reality, however, confirms daily, with sufficient eloquence, that violence can also be psychological, economic, patrimonial and can occur in all types of families, regardless of their economic or cultural level.
“She (or he) asked for it”, “jealousy is a manifestation of love”, “what happens in the family, good or bad, stays in the family”, “the letter with blood enters”, are also phrases that swell the bulky list of myths that, in the opinion of specialists, make the victim responsible, harm her perception of the abuse and neutralize her reaction and denunciation.
For Dr. Yamila González Ferrer, Vice President of the National Union of Jurists of Cuba (UNJC) and of the Cuban Society of Civil and Family Law, “the Cuban Constitution gives the highest rank to the prevention and attention to violence in the family space”.
Both in this area (Art. 85), adds the also titular professor of the Faculty of Law of the University of Havana, and in what refers to gender violence (Art. 43) and against children and adolescents (Art. 84 and 86), the 2019 Magna Carta is located in a remarkable place on a planetary scale in the constitutional approach to this issue.
The Law on Laws, specifically in Article 85, states that: “family violence, in any of its manifestations, is considered destructive of the persons involved, of families and of society, and is sanctioned by law”.
Such projection, González Ferrer considers, is comprehensive of the three scopes in which the violence in the familiar space affects negatively, and that cannot be lost sight of: the individual, the familiar one and the social one. In that same sense, the precept opens its protective fan to all the manifestations in which it can appear.
Nevertheless, the expert clarifies, “except in cases where its scope requires treatment in criminal proceedings, family violence does not usually generate any palpable legal consequence in Cuba today.
“Hence the need to promote the improvement of legal mechanisms and public policies, so that there is no impunity and the highest protection is provided to the victims”.
According to González Ferrer, it is necessary to elaborate new legal provisions and to modify or perfect other existing ones, not only in substantive family matters, but also in contractual, succession, procedural and criminal matters, so that it is possible to develop the constitutional postulates.
The new Family Code, therefore, is one of the norms that should be born tempered to the precepts of the Magna Carta as to the treatment of family violence, as well as to the protection against any of its manifestations.
Yamila González, who also coordinates the UNJC’s Gender Justice Project, insists on defining what family violence is, and what its causes and types are, because one must always know the phenomenon in order to face it and avoid it.
According to the professor, violence in family contexts is part of the network of violence that exists in society. It is, in turn, a universal phenomenon, with its concrete historical characteristics and the peculiarities of each family group; it is a social problem that has different causes and dimensions and encompasses all types of existing families.
The very patriarchal structure of the family, recognizes González Ferrer, “makes it one of the most violent social institutions, since it develops asymmetrical power relations through gender and generation, which are the guarantors of the legitimization and reproduction of the patriarchy as a system of domination”.
Based on its interdependence with the environment, “family violence must be understood as a process. It is not casual or established overnight, but has a painful path of formation, which is established in the family climate through an endless cycle of very harmful behaviors for human beings.”
In the opinion of the Vice President of the UNJC, violence is a cultural problem, not entirely legal, so it must act on the social, educational, cultural resources that make it possible, without disregarding the use of law as and when appropriate.
In conceptual terms, she emphasizes, “family or intra-family violence is that which occurs within the family. It refers to any form of abuse that occurs among its members, and implies an imbalance of power that is exercised from the strongest to the weakest”.
The expressions of family violence are the physical, psychic, moral, sexual, economic or patrimonial abuse, either by action or omission, direct or indirect, in which aggressors and victims maintain or have maintained couple relationships, as well as the one that takes place between relatives. The same treatment must be given to acts of this nature committed between people in cohabiting relationships.
In the words of the expert, there are three significant ways in which family violence is expressed, since in the patriarchal, hierarchical family, power is exercised along two fundamental lines: gender and generation.
It is a very particular type of violence, based on a patriarchal culture, rooted in the inequality of power between men and women. It is based on sexist stereotypes, which generate prejudice and lead to expressions of discrimination based on sex, gender, sexual orientation or gender identity.
It can be physical, psychological, sexual, moral, symbolic, economic, or patrimonial, and has a negative impact on the enjoyment of rights, freedoms, and the integral well-being of people.
It occurs in family, work, school, political, cultural, and any other environment in society. Its most generalized, frequent and significant expression is that which occurs against women.
Nevertheless, gender violence against men exists, such as homophobia, for example, when they are attacked for having transgressed gender norms from the canons of hegemonic masculinity; or the mocking and questioning that those who assume co-responsibility for domestic tasks and the care of their children may receive and are then criticized by their relatives, co-workers, or friends.
It is one that manifests itself against people because of aging, given the decrease in their physical and intellectual capacities, economic and social participation.
Its most common expressions are physical and emotional abandonment, hygienic, medical and food neglect, underestimation, financial and patrimonial manipulation, physical and verbal abuse.
This is what happens with respect to children and adolescents because of their condition as developing persons. Even if it is not directly about them, it is considered direct violence because it affects the adequate development of their personality and the feeling of security and trust in those around them, with transcendence to their social life.
On this sensitive subject, some think that, in situations of violence within the family, if it is not about the person of the son or daughter, there is no significant level of affectation, when the damage derived from living in violent environments is severe for the integral development of their personality and with very negative consequences towards the future.
Whatever the nature of the conflicts, Gonzalez Ferrer says, “their solution should not be managed in a violent way but through communication and negotiation. There is an urgent need for education and a culture of peace, of respect for human rights, based on the need to learn to live and relate in harmony.
By Fernando M. García Bielsa
December 23rd, 2020
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
The latest incidents of police brutality and racist killings in many U.S. cities are not a recent phenomenon. They are long-standing events, stemming from the days of slavery and, as now, developing alongside the violence of paramilitary and white supremacist groups.
The warlike projection of the country and its having reached the point of being permanently involved in a series of wars in various confines, has permeated the psyche of thousands of people and is reflected in a growing militarization at the domestic level. In addition to police brutality, it is clearly expressed in the proliferation of violent groups, as well as in government agencies such as the prison system, the militarization of the border with Mexico, and violence against immigrants.
In addition to the violent and racist tradition with which the U.S. nation was formed and the impact of imperial militarism, there are also the social fractures, polarization, and growing inequalities that this society has shown in recent decades. There are tens and tens of millions of people inserted in a vicious circle of residential segregation in unsafe neighborhoods lacking basic services.
The question of race and racism against Blacks has been a major factor in shaping American culture and policy from colonial times and the formation of the republic to the present. Much of national politics revolves around them. The historical and current location of African Americans is – in many ways – central to the country’s problems.
In turn, Black political movements and activism have historically been at the forefront of struggles for progressive change in the United States, a vast and diverse country where class and other movements have been co-opted or fragmented. This is influenced by historical reasons, immense institutional obstacles, as well as the dimensions of the country, the tensions arising from the multi-ethnic character of its population, and the growing weakness of the labor movement.
In the late 1960s and 1970s, so-called “communities of color” began to understand that society, as it existed, would never address their needs as they were perceived and felt. It was in this period that exploring their cultural heritage and building their own institutions became their greatest strength. The Black Power slogan had electrified Black communities across the country.
A dramatic transformation in the self-image of Black people began, in the context of one of the most effective social movements to date in the country, of racial pride, collective consciousness and community solidarity, with enormous repercussions in society as a whole.
After the impact of the great struggles and mobilizations of the Black civil rights movement, it became evident to sectors of power that the strength of such movements was being enhanced given the serious social problems in those communities. For this reason, since the 1960s, a whole series of government programs and assistance projects for the “development” of marginal areas and Black communities had been spreading.
Among the results of these programs was the strengthening of reformist groups and economic interests, as well as contributing in the long term to the formation of a whole layer of African American and Latino professionals and politicians with possibilities of access, public presence, and supposed representation of the interests of so-called ethnic minorities.
The Black bourgeoisie, including that which developed during the Obama administration, has continued to make false promises of inclusion. Except in the recent context in reaction to the wave of killings and police violence, organized political activism by African Americans has reached this stage after a long period of ebb.
Black groups have remained atomized, uncoordinated, focused on immediate economic and social concerns, and their energies have become diffuse, marked by the needs and life emergencies of their social bases, internal divisions, and the social polarization in their communities. External manipulations of all kinds do the rest.
The appearance of greater political influence by the Black population given the access of a few of their own to positions of some visibility has been misleading. Despite some advances in participation and representation, Blacks continue to fare worse than whites in having their political preferences and interests legislated.
The increase in class diversity that has taken place within these ‘communities’ and the nefarious role played by the Democratic Party in presenting itself as a champion of the underprivileged when in fact it is subject to the interests of the country’s financial elite, were felt.
The United States shows a growing number of very deep social divisions. Racism and the dangerous ideology of white supremacy is a serious obstacle to social cohesion, and is sometimes conducive to and at the root of serious outbreaks of violence. Demographic trends, some warn, suggest that the nation will not be sustainable in the long term unless marked inequalities between populations of diverse ethnic backgrounds are corrected.
Analyst Tim Wise said (on the Truthout website, March 2, 2012) that, in 25 or 30 years when non-whites will be half the population and the majority in several states, it will not be sustainable for the country to maintain that population as it is now. Blacks today are three times more likely to be in poverty than whites, twice as likely to be unemployed, with several times less assets and with an income less than the other half of the citizenry, and with nine years less life expectancy.
Behind that reality, repressive conceptions prevail. These are not only fed by overflowing militaristic mentalities or fears of ungovernability, but they are backed up by calculations of profit generation. These are derived from the so-called wars on drugs, mass incarceration in private prisons, outsourcing to private “security” agencies, and institutionalized repression against immigrants and marginalized populations.
The focus of repressive state activity is directed against Black groups and progressive organizations, which has led to the violation of civil liberties, the criminalization of social movements, increased surveillance and infiltration of Black, Latino and poor Muslim institutions and communities, including the deployment of undercover police, informants and intimidation in homes and public spaces.
A woman protests in New York against the ban on Muslims in Trump. Photo: Stephanie Keith/ AFP.
Muslim communities in the country face an environment of growing intolerance and hostility since the September 11, 2001 attacks. State and local police forces gather information and spy on law-abiding Muslim citizens. They become targets of violence as an extension of racism and xenophobia to our day, virtually demanding submission and near abandonment of their cultural and identity expressions.
So far, anger and despair have replaced the organizational strength and momentum of the civil rights era.
U.S. society is deeply fractured politically and across class, regional, economic, ethnic, religious, and cultural interests. Racial issues intersect with class differences and class oppression, and are often instrumentalized for political purposes. Levels of violence resurface; disparities are enormous. There are pockets of the population where people live in constant paranoia.
Even after the great rebellions against racism and the successes of the civil rights movement in the middle of the last century, including the partial dismantling of many of the legal structures that supported segregation, racial inequality remains a palpable fact. The racial chasm is widening and has not been altered by changes in government.
Racial prejudice in the United States has a strong negative impact on the lives of African Americans. It expresses itself in forms of discrimination in all areas and conditions of existence: segments of the population caught in a vicious circle of residential segregation, inferior opportunities for education or health services, marginality, increasing rates of incarceration, and discrimination in employment. Black workers receive 22% less than white workers in their wages, with the same levels of education and experience. The average income of African American households is just over half that of white households.
In most cities and urban areas of the country there are separate areas where the Black population resides,. This reflect the historical racial segregation that shaped the country and the policies created in the past to keep Black people out of certain neighborhoods. Many of these slums have high levels of poverty and face an intense and unwanted police presence.
In such an atmosphere and because of such deep-rooted prejudices, any activity, no matter how innocent, in which a Black man is involved generates suspicion, alarm and often danger to his life. Consider also that the rate of Black citizens in prison is five times that of white citizens. Despite being only 13% of the population they constitute 40% of all incarcerated men.
Highly peaceful neighborhoods coexist with others where violent death ravages the usually poor. Entire communities of Black, Latino, Muslim or Asian populations feel their communities are under increasing police occupation.
U.S. society has not been able to address the root causes of the outrage and anger that consume millions and are behind the recent powerful demonstrations against repression and racism. Neither politicians nor public institutions have established effective government programs to mitigate at least these gross inequalities, ultimately produced by the prevailing capitalist system.
On the other hand, what that society has done quite effectively is to divide and co-opt many of the struggles and organizing efforts that were going on in those communities.
The re-emergence of a “new Jim Crow,” that is, of a climate of brutal segregation, based on the mass imprisonment and repeated police killings of unarmed Black men, shows that the old systems of repressive control have increased in the present, always maintaining the dividing line of skin color.
In contrast, white hate groups, nationalists and racists, as well as their armed paramilitary branches, proliferate and carry out violent actions, often being overlooked or even in collusion with authorities in certain regions. Many of President Trump’s words and actions have seemed to encourage such groups.
All of this demagogic rhetoric, which has a fascist slant and is a mirror of the country’s war policies, encourages desperate sectors to organize themselves into militias to wage crusades of various kinds. It is a propitious environment when more than 300 million firearms, many of them of high caliber, are in the hands of the population, when a part of the hundreds of thousands of war veterans live with their frustrations, resentments and traumas of their war experiences.
In this context, hundreds and hundreds of right-wing armed militias throughout the country are operating, whose ideology and motivations are a combination of paranoia, fear and aggressive claims of their rights to carry firearms, receptiveness to elaborate conspiracy theories and extreme anti-government anger. Many claim that the country’s government has been subverted by conspirators and has become illegitimate, and therefore see themselves as patriotic by organizing themselves paramilitarily, confronting the authorities, and fomenting racial warfare.
Many authorities, in conjunction with the media, continued to criminalize protests and progressive groups, going so far as to characterize minor actions as violent crimes and even “terrorism.
Raising alleged “security” interests, the so-called program to Counteract Violent Extremism (CVE) was begun under the Obama administration (2009-2017), that openly resembles the repression against radical groups and the COINTELPRO program of the 1960s and 1970s, and that was added to the actions deployed after the passage of the Patriot Act in October 2001 and other actions.
On the basis of sections of that law, federal agencies are able to make more and more inroads into areas of civil and personal life. The FBI, for example, can demand information such as telephone and computer records, credit and banking history, etc., without requiring court approval and without being subject to controls on the use that the feds make of such personal information.
Abuses and violations of the law often occur. Such is the case when attention is drawn to controversial sections of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, which allow for the conduct of mass spying on Americans communicating abroad. Recently the National Security Agency (NSA) has admitted to improperly collecting several hundred million phone calls from U.S. citizens.
According to William I. Robinson, a specialist on these issues, in his January 2018 article Global Police State, as war and state repression are privatized, the interests of a wide range of capitalist groups converge around a political, social, and ideological climate conducive to the generation and maintenance of social conflict.
For some time there have been signs that the government was anticipating the possible occurrence of serious civil problems and disturbances.
A video entitled “The Urban Future and its Emerging Complexity,” created by the U.S. Army to be used in the training of special forces, is revealing of the mentality and attitude in state entities regarding citizenship and the so-called “problems” that the government must be prepared to face through the use of martial law.
Already in 2008, a report from the Army Defense College stated that in the face of the possibility of a wave of widespread civilian violence within the country, the military establishment planned to “redirect its priorities under conditions of exemption to defend domestic order and the security of the people.
In its 44 pages, the report warned of the potential causes of such problems, which could include terrorist attacks, unanticipated economic collapse, loss of legal and political order, intentional domestic insurgency, health emergencies, and others. It also mentioned the possibility of a situation of widespread public outcry that would trigger dangerous situations and that would require additional powers to restore order.
In recent years, the U.S. state has radically expanded its punitive and surveillance capabilities. To limit protests, control dissent and popular opposition, as part of the well-known actions of the FBI and local police forces in previous decades, the system used administrative and legislative methods, espionage and covert infiltration, discrediting actions, massive “preventive” arrests, police attacks even against authorized peaceful protests, and so on.
The FBI’s budget for funding undercover agents, much of it within progressive organizations, rose from $1 million in 1977 to several tens of millions today.
In the United States, Black deaths are not a flaw in the system. They are the system.