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 […]
By Graziella Pogolotti
May 3, 2017
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
The image of the tourist was, at first, that of a traveler who, individually, undertook an adventure in search of new horizons to gain knowledge. Thus, exotic visitors began to show up in Cuba, who very often left testimony of their experience through letters, stories or books that proposed more ambitious insights.
The perspective of others gave us a vision of our singularity in the multiple planes that natural and human landscapes offer. For those persons who come from other lands, the richness of a prodigal natural universe –unaffected by the harsh rigors of winter– is striking.
The chromatic luxury of the environment made an impact at first sight. The true singularity was expressed in the human face of a cordial country, with open doors, where the refinement of customs was accompanied by the abandonment of the rigid formalism prevailing in other lands. The deepest bond was established in the human plane and there was also the first-hand approach to a culture forged under different circumstances. Thus, the characteristics of “being Cuban” were beginning to be defined.
Later on, in the twentieth century, workers’ demands gave the middle classes the right to vacation time. Inexpensive because of geographical proximity, access to a tourist trip was within reach of Americans encouraged by the stimulus of the warm climate and the exoticism of a certain folklore trivialized by the trinket trade.
In the winter months, the high season prevailed. It offered an enjoyable warm weather and coincided with the Havana carnival. In Parque Central, a maracas player stood at the door of a store that offered cheap musical instruments, along with belts, purses, and other articles made of genuine crocodile leather.
The flourishing business imposed its perverse features. When Prohibition was established in the United States, Havana was a space open to free consumption of alcohol. Bars multiplied and a malicious substrate became linked to the contraband privileged by the vicinity between the coasts of the two countries.
With its well-known ability to forge mentalities, neo-liberal globalization has appropriated large-scale tourism, associated with what is called with apparent innocence –eternal trap of words–: the leisure industry.
Its extreme expression is manifested in the cruises. In these, instead of observing the new, travelers contemplate each other in a coexistence that consumes most of the available time. In a tour of preset destinations, they pass through some paradigmatic sites and lunge into the search for small souvenirs, trophies to give to friends, once back home. The human landscape and the power of culture have disappeared from the picture. They will get to know, if at all, a masquerade willing to show –with roaring stridency– the expected exotic component.
Before becoming the grave of desperate emigrants, the Mediterranean’s natural environment suffered the predatory effects of tourism. There, too, on a short excursion, the testimonies of one of the original sources of so-called Western culture moved to the background
The Caribbean is the counterpart of that mare nostrum. We preserve virginal areas, but our being an island makes us extremely vulnerable. We have beautiful landscapes, but we lack abundant water resources to quench the thirst of a temporary overpopulation and maintain perfect lawns for golf courses.
In the cultural field, the dangers are even greater. While the Mediterranean tradition still evokes the glories of a dilapidated Parthenon and the infinite management of the Egyptian pyramids, –all victims of neo-colonial perspectives– our culture does not enjoy similar recognition.
Exoticism always maintains a component of underestimation, and our inhabitants have psychologically suffered from this conditioning. Expansive in the last half century, the leisure industry was already emerging, when “the Commander arrived and ordered it to stop.” [a refernence to the lyrics of a song, by Carlos Puebla, referering to Fidel putting an end to capitalist evils].
The hotels that multiplied in Havana were fronts for gambling halls, meeting points for high class prostitution, and business centers of an expanding mafia.
At that time, a master plan for the development of Havana was designed which articulated interests of a diverse nature. Speculation based on the price of the land oriented the growth of the city towards the east, where investments were made with a view to the creation of new neighborhoods.
The government would pay the expenses of infrastructure for investments with an absolute guarantee of profitability. New management centers were being directed there.
The historic city would be at the expense of the underworld. Since the space provided for that predatory universe was insufficient, a floating island would be built in front of the Malecon, for the free flow of large-scale gambling dens. The landscape value of the Malecón –complemented by the gentle hills that shape the profile of the city towards its geographical center, the present-day Plaza de la Revolución– did not matter. The capital of the country, the historical and cultural jewel in our crown, would be hopelessly dismembered.
For a country like ours, lacking in great mining wealth, tourism is a source of income of indisputable importance. The challenge is to devise strategies that enhance the possibilities of development in favor of the nation, culturally and humanly, because in the virtues of our people lies the soul of the nation.
The emergent demand for a large-scale project focused on the advantages of the availability of sun and beaches must be accompanied by the analysis of the risks involved, with the purpose of elaborating the indispensable counterparts. It is important to discard the notion of the leisure industry and to take into account that the fashion of beach enjoyment may be temporary.
Our true strength lies in our status as a large island, endowed with a multitude of possible options: many of them based on a cultural and historical tradition.
There is also the possibility of proposing designs aimed at valuing good living, latent in our large and small cities, in the varied landscape environment, and in the survival of little-explored corners made to the measure of the human being. To elaborate these projects, it would be advisable to complement the geographic and geological maps with a cultural map illuminated by a deep inward look.
By Fernando Ravsberg, BBC Mundo
September 11, 2009
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
Universities have computer rooms and some have internet access.
Cuban authorities approved legal internet use for all citizens, given in a resolution signed by Commandante of the Revolution Ramiro Valdés, Computer Science and Communications Minister.
This resolution implies a change in government policy, which up to now had limited the net to social use, allowing access only to institutions, companies, and to a small group of little more than 100.000 people, mainly intellectuals and scientists.
For some weeks Cubans had been authorized access to “Cybercafés” in hotels, where they can connect to the internet, using the wireless system or WIFI, from their own computers or from those provided by the hotel.
However, it was in fact a measure that could change without notice. On the other hand, a ministerial resolution has legal force; it was even published in the Official Gazette of Cuba.
It is the end of the State’s information monopoly.
In post offices
Some post offices will have internet navigating rooms.
The Minister resolved “authorizing the Cuban Post Office Company, as Access to Internet Service Supplier for the Public. It will provide this service to all people inside our national territory using its internet areas.”
They will use post offices to install computers so that any Cuban can navigate the net. Up to now a similar structure existed, but it only gave access to an intranet, with websites selected by the government.
Brenda and Daimi, workers of a post office in Vedado, in Havana, confirmed to BBC World that 3 days ago they closed to create an internet room. However, it was reopened without finishing the installation.
Apparently, not all post offices will be used during the first phase, workers of the Computer Science’s Ministry to BBC Mundo workers. “One will be selected by municipality” and this service can be enlarged as necessary.
During this last decade, computer classes have been taught throughout the entire country.
With this measure, the prohibition is eliminated. But, the government continues with its proposal of “social use” of the Internet, meaning it won’t be possible to access the net from home. This is because the country doesn’t have enough bandwidth for this.
According to the Cuban authorities, the United States has prevented internet companies from negotiating a larger internet access with Cuba. What’s more, all communications are more expensive since they have to be made via satellite because Washington doesn’t allow the use of the submarine cable.
Shortly all this could change. American President, Barack Obama, authorized telecommunications companies to negotiate with Havana and next year the installation of a telephone cable between Cuba and Venezuela will be finished.
These new technological possibilities could reduce service prices, which today are extremely high. A one hour card in a hotel costs US$7 and full access from homes costs US$150 a month.
End of the monopoly
In this post office, work began but they wasn’t finished.
For decades, the Cuban government maintained an information monopoly. However, in the last years, the propagation of satellite antennas and the sale of internet accesses, both of them illegal yet increasingly extended have diminished it.
Regarding internet access, there are tens of thousands of illegal accounts, directly negotiated between server workers and clients. They cost around US $50 a month and give full access. It’s the same service legal subscribers receive.
Nobody can really know how many people have access to the net. But, it could be more than a million if we count those with authorized accounts, those with illegal ones and those who navigate – without permission – using institution accounts.
Anyway, the Cuban government maintains filters to prevent access to the most radical anti-Castro pages, while allowing access to the whole world press, including the biggest Cuban American newspaper in Miami.
Author: Pastor Batista Valdes
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
LAS TUNAS. – If everybody knew that for each peso of salary that a company pays a worker, it has to pay the wtate 25 cents tax for the use of the work force (besides the 12,5 cents for social security) maybe more people would be more conscious of the need to use every minute of their labor day correctly.
BESIDES AIMING AT TRIBUTARY DISCIPLINE, THIS TAX SHOULD ENDOURAGE A MORE EFFICIENT USE OF THE WORK FORCE.
But, for many years there has been little knowledge of ta law and an absence of a tax culture. This is true not only for the general population but also of managers of productive and service companies; so much so that many people ask themselves, taxes? What is that?
Specialists from the provincial branch of the Finances and Prices Ministry and from the National Office of Tributary Administration (ONAT) explain that this obligation, which is instituted not only in Cuba, applies to all natural and juridical persons, Cuban or foreign, that have employees, and is calculated from the wages, salaries, bonuses and other payments given to those workers (Law No. 73 of the tributary system, 4-8-1994, chapter X).
Modifications introduced in 2006 to Resolution 240/2002 included budget units in the list of tax payers (they had been excluded until then). Credit and Service Cooperatives (CCS) and state agricultural units were temporarily excluded if the personnel they hire are working directly in agricultural production or in woodlands.
Stated in these terms, there should be no problems in its enforcement. On the other hand, reality doesn’t always live up to expectations.
Audits carried out in the county last year by ONAT supervisors revealed irregularities amounting to 2,170,400 pesos, for the most part concentrated on 12 entities of the sugar industry, 23 entities subordinated to local government and ten to the agriculture ministry. From January to May (2009) irregularities amounted to more than 900 000 pesos.
One wonders: If those audits reviewed only part of the possible universe, how much money is not being paid in the territory and what are the consequences for national economy? Possibly, nobody can say.
WHO’S PAYING FOR THIS?
Supervisor Pedro Quesada thinks one thing is clear: if the tax is not paid the law stipulates a fine. But, where will the money come from to pay that fine?
The budget does not include these types of expenses, therefore the situation is “solved” by diminishing the entity’s efficiency or its budget, and this causes serious damage to our country.
“We lack culture – says Milaida Aerie, sub-director of Finances and Prices -, maybe we need more knowledge, more popularization, and more seminars. But, we also need to be stricter. If whoever is responsible for the irregularity had to pay the fine from his/her own pocket, the situation would be different. But in the end it is Liborio (the State) who pays for the broken china.”
Not all managers act like the one in the Milk Basin Company.
Fe Esperanza Álvarez, of that company says, “When we finish calculating the payrolls, we calculate the tax, prepare it quickly and deposit it in the Bank. This happens month after month. I won’t deny that at some point we had difficulties with some of our units, but they are already solved. This year we only have two CCS and a Cooperative of Agricultural Production (CPA) in trouble, not for unpaid taxes, but for old debts.”
A timely word can solve future problems. “We are not inflexible – said Velia Proll Gamboa, ONAT sub-director in the municipality -; if a taxpayer is in a difficult situation and requests a postponement, we study the case, verify with the bank, see the bank statements and if the conditions are justified, authorize the postponement.”
In fact, entities like those of the agriculture (CCS, CPA, Basic Units of Cooperative Production) have received credit and special treatment since 2005, because of the havoc caused by many years of drought (first) and then the lashing of hurricanes later. This doesn’t mean that they have been relieved from responsibilities or obligations with the revenue.
What is unacceptable is that, due to negligence, the taxes go unpaid or units are late in making bank deposits. For example, if the deposit the CCS have to make are late, this is not the responsibility of those who work directly in the fields, but of those who are part of the managing board. Although here, this is not a serious problem, it can have repercussions in other territories.
Many, as Alberto González, of the provincial delegation of the agricultural ministry, recognize that the information and conferences the Tributary Administration Office gives to the economic personnel [of the units] is very valuable. They also value the installation of the program Sentry, designed to remind personnel that the tax needs to be paid; several days before the due date a reminder pops up every time the computer is activated.
Regrettably, some do not value these alternatives, others wait until they are ‘caught napping’” and there are still others who “pull faces” if the press points them out for not paying or for being morose. But, who “pulls faces” for the millions of pesos that don’t come in, for the loss it represents for the nation and all its inhabitants?
One needs to ponder about this, especially when a company is about to violate its tributary obligations, or when managers decide to hire more workers that will increase the work force tax, without having efficiently used the capabilities of those who have conformed its payroll until that instant.
By Manuel E. Yepe
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
The mere fact that the U.S. blockade on Cuba has remained in place even when almost all U.N. member states vote against such policy every year is a sure sign of its impudence. However, the obscene nature of the economic war that the world’s sole superpower wages on its small, poor neighboring country lies first of all in a long string of lies that violate the foremost rule of international coexistence: interference by one state in another state’s internal affairs.
Never mind that over 300 million Americans are ashamed of being taken for accessories to a siege designed to bring suffering, hunger and hardship to a nearby population thirty times smaller who defend their independence at all costs: the falseness of the arguments employed by various U.S. Administrations –using a vast media machinery financed by the taxpayers– is an affront to common sense and irrefutable proof of their contempt for the American people, whom they fooled from the outset into thinking that the “embargo” was justified as a means to put pressure on a Cuban Revolution that had seized property owned by, and paid no compensation to, major U.S. companies. Truth is, Cuba observed all international standards on the legitimate nationalization of foreign assets, whereas the U.S. government was the only one who had banned its nationals from negotiating the terms of expropriation, like investors from other nations were doing with whom a satisfactory indemnity was soon after agreed.
Then they came up with the excuse of the threat the Cuban Revolution posed to the hemispheric system, on whose behalf the U.S. masterminded a collective severing of ties with Cuba embraced by all the then-members of the OAS, with the exception of Mexico. As Latin America has been able to advance steadily toward sovereignty, all its countries have reestablished relations with the island.
Cuba’s support for the armed struggle led by national liberation movements across the continent also served to justify the blockade, but the excuse grew obsolete as insofar as the said forces managed to make themselves heard at the polls and other democratic forums, and so our links with them translated into open, plain solidarity.
Cuba’s alignment with the USSR and China was still another reason to accuse the island of violating the principles of Pan-Americanism when, in all fairness, what worried the U.S. above all else was Cuba’s status as a fully independent socialist country, its central role within the nonaligned movement and, ultimately, its great prestige and clout among the peoples and nations of the South.
Totally unconcerned for the truth, the U.S. has used its remarkable financial power to orchestrate media campaigns accusing Cuba of alleged human rights violations, trying to conceal the fact that, not counting the outrages committed in the prison that the U.S. keeps in the illegally occupied territory of Guantanamo bay, the island boasts the cleanest record of respect for such rights in the last half century.
Washington has tried all along to make people believe that the pressure exerted by the Miami-based right-wing Cuban American extremists is the reason why it has not voided its embarrassing policy of condemning a free nation to hunger and privation in order to pave the way for a popular uprising against the socialist revolutionary project. What’s certain is that these groups were created by the CIA, and they’re still filling their coffers with money from the federal budget to “promote democracy in Cuba”.
Everybody knows that when the U.S. decides to normalize relations with a ‘hostile’ country they get rid in a jiffy of the “powerful” lobby run by those opposed to the said nation. Like Rome did, Washington has hired traitors, but it despises them.
Given the undeniable evidence of the blockade’s failure, it’s the U.S.’s place to admit so and proceed to repair the offense in compliance with the principles of international law. Obviously, it has chosen instead to devise a face-saving tactics without changing its strategy. Now its discourse reads as follows: “After 47 years, the unilateral embargo on Cuba has failed to reach the goal of taking democracy to the Cuban people. The international community demands more refined and specific sanctions against unruly governments that are not so detrimental to the civilian population, because a general measure unite people around their leaders and become therefore counterproductive”.
There’s every indication that the new standpoint lays the foundations for other plans and more subtle lies –with exactly the same purposes of neo-annexation– in detriment of Cuban independence and the Cubans’ right to carry on the Revolution they have been called to achieve, since 1868 to the present day, by Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, José Martí and Fidel Castro.
Por Manuel E. Yepe
El solo hecho de que la política de bloqueo de Estados Unidos contra Cuba se haya mantenido a despecho de que casi la totalidad de los Estados que integran la Organización de Naciones Unidas la condenan cada año, bastaría para demostrar su condición impúdica.
Pero el carácter obsceno de esa guerra económica que libra hace medio siglo la superpotencia global única contra la pequeña y pobre nación vecina radica, sobre todo, en que se ha fundamentado siempre en mentiras para quebrantar la primera de las normas de la coexistencia internacional: la condena de la intromisión de cualquier Estado en los asuntos internos de otro.
Más allá de la ignominia que representa para los más de 300 millones de estadounidenses aparecer como cómplices de un asedio llamado a provocar sufrimientos, hambre y miserias a un pueblo vecino treinta veces menor en número que defiende su independencia al costo de cualquier sacrificio, la falsedad de los argumentos que han utilizado las administraciones estadounidenses -con apoyo de una inconmensurable maquinaria mediática que paga la ciudadanía con sus impuestos- constituye un atentado a la razón y un grave menosprecio de la inteligencia del pueblo norteamericano.
De inicio, se le mintió a los estadounidenses alegando que el “embargo”, como instrumento de presión, se justificaba porque la revolución cubana había expropiado sin compensación propiedades de grandes corporaciones estadounidenses, cuando el hecho cierto era que Cuba cumplía todas las normas internacionales para actos de legítima nacionalización y el gobierno de EEUU era el único que prohibía a sus nacionales negociar los términos de compensación como lo estaban haciendo los inversionistas de otras naciones con quienes en poco tiempo se acordaron indemnizaciones satisfactorias.
Pasó después el bloqueo a justificarse por la amenaza que la revolución cubana constituía para el sistema hemisférico, en cuyo nombre Estados Unidos impuso un rompimiento colectivo de relaciones con Cuba que acataron todos los entonces miembros de la Organización de Estados Americanos, menos México. A medida que las naciones latinoamericanas han podido avanzar hacia la afirmación de sus soberanías, todas han restablecido sus vínculos con Cuba.
El apoyo de Cuba a la lucha armada de los movimientos de liberación nacional en Latinoamérica sirvió también de justificación para el bloqueo, pero ésta se fue haciendo obsoleta en la medida en que esas fuerzas iban logrado la posibilidad de manifestarse en las urnas y de otras maneras democráticas, traduciéndose así los nexos de Cuba con ellos en una solidaridad abierta y transparente.
El alineamiento de Cuba con la URSS y China fue otra razón para acusar a la Isla de violar los principios del panamericanismo, cuando en verdad lo que preocupaba era su condición de país socialista absolutamente independiente, su papel protagónico en el movimiento de países no alineados y, en última instancia, su gran prestigio y autoridad entre los pueblos y naciones del Sur.
Sin preocuparse en lo absoluto por la verdad, Estados Unidos ha manejado contra Cuba el argumento de supuestas violaciones de los derechos humanos, usando su formidable poder financiero como propulsor
mediático, pretendiendo ocultar que Cuba ha sido el país del hemisferio donde más fielmente se han respetado los derechos humanos en el último medio siglo, si se excluyen los desmanes en la cárcel que EEUU mantiene en la base militar de Guantánamo, en territorio ilegalmente ocupado a la Isla.
Y, en todo momento, se ha pretendido hacer ver que la presión ejercida por los grupos extremistas cubano-americanos de Miami ha sido responsable de que Washington no cancele esa política bochornosa que condena al hambre y grandes privaciones a una nación soberana, pretendiendo forzar a su pueblo a alzarse contra el proyecto socialista de la revolución popular. Lo cierto es que estos grupos fueron creados por la CIA y son aún financiados por el presupuesto federal con partidas dedicadas a la “promoción de la democracia en Cuba” que nutren arcas en Miami.
Cualquiera sabe de qué manera tan expedita es capaz EEUU de deshacerse del “poder” de los lobbies de los adversarios de sus enemigos cuando decide normalizar relaciones con un país “hostil”. Como Roma, Washington paga a los traidores, pero los desprecia.
Ante la evidencia del fracaso del bloqueo, correspondería al gobierno de Estados Unidos reconocerlo y proceder a reparar la ofensa dentro de los principios del derecho internacional, pero es evidente que se ha modelado una táctica que pretende limpiar la cara sin variar la estrategia. Su discurso hoy reza así:
“Después de 47 años, el embargo unilateral a Cuba ha fracasado en lograr el objetivo de llevar la democracia al pueblo cubano. La comunidad internacional exige que las sanciones sean más refinadas y específicas contra los gobiernos rebeldes y que afecten menos a la población civil porque las medidas generales aglutinan al pueblo en torno a sus dirigentes y por ello se hacen contraproducentes”.
Todo parece indicar que, con esta nueva óptica, prosperan en Estados Unidos -con idénticos fines neo anexionistas- nuevos planes y mentiras más sutiles contra la independencia y el derecho de los cubanos a continuar una revolución a la que, desde 1868 hasta hoy, han estado convocados por Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, José Martí y Fidel Castro.
A CubaNews translation by Walter Lippmann.
25 April 2017 / UNESCO Havana / Culture Portal for Latin America and the Caribbean
Two unforgettable encounters between music students from Cuba and the world were held on Monday 24 and Tuesday 25 April. It was a magnificent debut for the week dedicated to the global celebration of International Jazz Day in Havana: the first in the University of The Arts (ISA) and the second in the Conservatory of Music “Amadeo Roldán”.
In front of the visiting musicians from different countries and students of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance, Danier Seeff, Director of Programs of this institute in the West Coast of the United States came
The young jazz musicians offered a concert in both school centers that included several numbers under their own authorship and an impressive musical route by the History of the Jazz, from the times of one of its initiators in century XIX, the teacher of the ragtime Scott Joplin, until contemporaries like Dizzy Gillespie and Wynton Marsalis, going through 1960s jazz, an expression of the civil rights struggles in the United States at the time.
Under the direction of Camilo Moreira Coro, the ISA Jazz Band offered a performance that included versions of “Mambo No. 5” by Dámaso Pérez Prado, “Amor Fugaz” by Benny Moré, and “Chinoiserie” by Duke Ellington, as well as the interpretation by the young pianist of the band of one of his own compositions.
In the Amadeo Roldán Conservatory, the young middle level students gave a show led by the female quintet “Nymphs”, directed by the cellist Kabila Franchini Suárez; The musical project “Ceda el Paso”, with the young and laureate pianist Rodrigo García Ameneiro at the front; and the the school’s jazz band, under the direction of the Master Enrique Rodriguez Toledo, also director of the band. The students performed singular arrangements of classics such as “Libertango” by Astor Piazzolla or “Pita y Para”, by Francisco Repilado, and a wide repertoire of Cuban and international jazz.
But the most exciting in both cases was the interaction of the students of Thelonious Monk with their Cuban counterparts. It was a real splurge of virtuosity both by hosts and guests, who performed improvised jam sessions and exchanged knowledge in spontaneous “workshops” of Instruments, memorable “downloads” where talent and creativity flowed uncontainablely, after the scheduled presentations were concluded.
They were, without doubt, new samples of the power of jazz to unite, and to create synergies, so that the cultures dialogue through the notes of the most democratic musical genre. Those of us who live in it were, in truth, privileged.
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
She was the girl in the house, nice and affectionate. He was the “uncle”, Dad and Mom’s best friends since they were little children, like her. She always ran to greet him. He visited the house on every birthday, on weekends, in the afternoons … Her parents would leave her in the care of the “uncle” so they could run errands. He brought her dolls, candy, cookies. She never understood why he kissed her in the mouth, took off her robe and touched her everywhere when they were alone. He told her it was a secret, as in the tales of princesses. She did not like it; but it was a princess’s secret … He left her half-naked and crying one afternoon when Mom and Dad had not yet returned … She’s barely four years old.
Contrary to the widespread belief of an “unknown stranger,” “distant from our home or affective environment,” events such as the one narrated above are very much our own, close, historical … Social taboos or stigmas –even institutional ones– manage to silence them, but never avoid them, much less eradicate them.
“I worked with cases that came to the Court in 2015 and the first months of 2016,” explains Lisandra León Borrero, whose Master’s Degree thesis in Criminology discussed the “Victim Factors that Promoted Sexual Abuse of Children Under 16 in The Municipality of Cienfuegos in 2015-16: Actions for prevention.” However, the author mentions the existence of other cases still being processed and says there are cases that are never reported.
Researchers say that in our country the most common crimes related to child sexual abuse are lascivious abuses, and the most vulnerable are children between three and ten years of age.
According to the 2013 Cuban Report on “Legal-penal actions against human trafficking and other forms of sexual abuse”, protection was granted to 2,321 girls and boys who had been victims of these acts (1036 of lascivious abuse, 553 of corruption, 365 of rape, 191 of sexual outrage, 57 of pederasty and 29 of rape under 16 years of age). From then to date, the figure has been rising.
“I do not think it has increased,” explains Dr. Diana María Stuart Duarte, child psychiatrist at the Centro de Evaluación, Análisis y Orientación del Menor (CEAOM) [Center for Evaluation, Analysis and Guidance of Minors] in the province. From the very beginning of the history of humankind, abuse has been present. But people have gained confidence, knowledge, and are less afraid. Thus the number of accusations has increased. In fact, many families had their children being victims of sexual abuse and did not disclose it. We are already more open in that regard.”
Other studies reveal that, even with such progress, the reported cases are usually only 10 to 20 percent of the real number .
The victimizers, like the victims, have no face, no age, no sex, but “they are almost always close to the family and study their victims, identifying problems of any kind: children who lack affection. And many times the child is mentioning the abuse to the elders and they do not believe it; they take him or her to be a liar. Imagine being in a situation like that,” says Lic. Sara Rey Hernández, a psychologist at CEAOM.
As part of her research, Lisandra León Borrero identified some risk factors that increase the vulnerability of children to this type of abuse. The absence of risk perception on the part of the family is at the top of the list and reveals certain shortcomings of present-day Cuban society.
“Most of the cases under study were dysfunctional families; they did not pay attention to their children; they did not know who they related to; they were not prepared to provide them with adequate sex education; and they were permissive.”
“Another element was the economic factor. In juvenile corruption, for example, when we analyze how the crime is committed –the age, the crime itself—material factors are almost always present. Predators take advantage of those teenagers who wish to have cell phones or tablets, and whose parents cannot give them those goods.”
Master Lisandra Leon Borrero also discusses the social factor with the presence of alcoholism in our communities, and the lack of adequate recreation spaces for the children. “The mother lives on a fifth floor and lets the child play in the street, in a dark place, without supervision,” she added.
Whether in the short or medium term, the aftermath is usually manifested in the child victim. Among the most serious consequences, Dr. Stuart Duarte includes: affective disorders, psycho-somatic problems (physical symptoms such as fatigue, loss of appetite or gastrointestinal, perception, function or behavioral disorders) or personality disorders, deriving even from substance abuse.
The law, for its part, falls more heavily on those responsible depending on the age, the circumstances of the event, or the significance of the damage. Punishments range from 12 months for lascivious abuse, to 30 years or death for rape, violent pedophilia or corruption of minors when the victim is under twelve years of age.
“In 1991 Cuba ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child. However, our Penal Code shows a certain lack of protection when it comes to considering aggravating factors,” Leon Borrero explains. In civil law here, a person is a minor until he or she is 18; but for punishment in criminal law we speak of a minor until he or she is 16, and in the end, aggravation is only considered when the victim is 14 or younger”.
WHEN THERE IS CONFIRMATION
Although each child may react in different ways to this type of aggression, there are symptoms that would help relatives or friends to detect them.
“Isolation is one of the most common,” says psychiatrist Diana Maria Stuart. Also school rejection, hostility, rebellion, fluctuations in appetite, difficulties in personal relationships … Depression in children and adolescents is not as in us adults: in children, it responds to a manifestation of behavior, rather than to emotional causes…
Behavioral alterations take precedence over emotional ones. The school plays an important role: when a child is being abused his or her academic performance almost always decreases. The child reacts differently: some are not aggressive and at a certain moment they become so; they reject physical contact …”
“It is paramount to maintain close observation of such changes,” stresses psychologist-pedagogue of CEAOM, Lic. Arianna González Fernández. “Sometimes we get cases in which the parents cannot tell us if there is an emotional alteration or not: the child is in school until 5:00 pm, comes home, takes a bath, does homework, eats and goes to bed. In such circumstances, it is the teacher who helps us with a more complete characterization.”
It is difficult to react serenely to the chance of possible abuse of some of the smallest of the house. However, it is essential to take into account some procedural steps for the safety and welfare of the child.
“When the family learns of the abuse, it should address the PNR unit [Policia Nacional Revolucionaria/ National Police] and file a complaint without the presence of the child. The child should not be taken to the unit of the PNR, emphasizes psychologist Sara Rey Hernandez. The child has already told the story to a cousin, an aunt, then to the mother, and then goes to the police station and repeats the story to whoever is there. They may not be the person prepared to explore the child. To work with them is our group of specialists. We must not re-victimize the victim.”
“Nor should parents insist on getting more details. That is our job,” comments González Fernández. “We keep repeating this because that insistence only creates more problems. By the time we get the information, it will already be tainted and the child will give us a narration of what he heard, guessed, imagined… altering the concrete fact.
The specialists interviewed agreed on the fact that, in general, delays in the detection and reporting of abuse persist.
“Speaking in terms of crime, we should not cause alarm either,” suggests Lisandra León Borrero. We should be careful with the subject, because perhaps the child’s symptoms respond to something else and misunderstandings can generate family conflicts.”
“We know that everyday life is difficult, but we must devote time to our children,” emphasizes Stuart Duarte. “Talk to them, play with them. Draw with them. The idea is not to be permissive, but to devote time to them. And have control: boys and girls should have schedules according to their age; parents should know who they play with, where they play … All this is important in the family’s actions to prevent their children from being victims of sexual abuse.”
Stories like that of the girl in our opening paragraph are very close to home, they are our own, historical … And silence does not manage to silence the pain, much less avoid it.
Crimes involving sexual abuse
Violent pederasty: sexual intercourse with men
using violence or intimidation.
Sexual outrage: harassment with sexual demands,
exhibitionism or obscene acts; producing or circulating pornographic materials.
Lewd abuse: to lasciviously abuse a person
of either sex, without the aim of carnal access,
using force or intimidation.
Rape: to have sex with a single woman
older than 12 years and under 16,
using abuse of authority or deception.
Corruption of minors: using minors under 16
in the practice of prostitution or in the practice
of acts of corruption, pornography, or other
By Roberto Alfonso Lara
April 5, 2017
A CubaNews translation. Edited by Walter Lippmann.
Living a comfortable old age can be the aspiration of anyone in the world. Some even set it as a goal and work hard to achieve it. But this effort at the individual or family level requires socio-economic support. This implies changes in health-care services, transportation, the stores…
For several years, Cuba has given emphasis to policies to protect senior citizens. The irreversible aging of its population has led to a number of transformations, essentially in public health. Other sectors remain oblivious to the challenge. Marketwise, for example, old people are forgotten.
The country´s stores disregard the needs and preferences of the elderly. The sale of clothing, footwear and food without adjustment to their demands, is proof of the low visibility of this age group in commercial matters. When it comes to selling, gray hair is usually not taken into account.
Somehow, I think there is an incomplete perception about the elderly, which doesn’t realize their true potential. A degree of conformism is attributed to them. The limited satisfaction of their urgent needs often follows that premise. It is usually thought that, due to their age, they lack tastes and interests, and that anything will be good for them.
Neither slippers nor pajamas nor “home scrubs” at reasonable prices are to be found in stores. Neither are light fabric clothing, nor shoes with the proper design to cope with corns and bunions, or anything that gratifies or pleases them. They do stumble upon sneakers and high heels, shiny blouses and tight pants.
Domestically-made garments hardly fill the vacuum. The use of textiles inadequate for Cuba’s hot climate (polyester instead of cotton), make the articles on sale of little use. Industry needs, first, to know in detail the type of customer to whom its products are intended. The same happens with prices, which bear no relationship with the very little money pensioners receive.
In terms of marketing, older people are scarcely valued in the country as an economically attractive group. Nevertheless, nations with similar demographic characteristics find in seniors numerous possibilities as consumers. Several specialists have even argued that the future of the market lies in the grandparents.
If in 2025 one in four Cubans will be over 60, wouldn’t it be appropriate to take another look at the issue? The care of the elderly –a strategic issue in the development of the nation– requires the implementation of comprehensive action in pursuit of greater comfort and quality of life.
The construction and repair of nursing homes and grandparents’ homes, along with new geriatrics clinics, anticipate the way forward. The other lap corresponds to the spheres of production and services. These are still permeated with the stereotype that the elderly do not buy enough.
Because of the size of the changes required, it may be difficult to deal with the needs of old age. For Cuba’s weak economy it is, in fact, a problem. However, all the elements should be thought of instead of continuing to postpone possible options. Not only in terms of clothing or food, also in the constant supply of wheelchairs, canes, hearing aids, mattresses, beds…
The government’s own interest in promoting the active participation of senior adults in the socio-economic life of the country clearly speaks of the need for reorienting the compass towards the current demographic process. Consequently, it is a task for the market to review its current situation and expand what’s available. The elderly, like other generations, need to see their reflection own in the mirror.
A CubaNews translation by Walter Lippmann.
Recently, actress and American film director Jodie Foster was in Cuba. During her visit to Havana, the winner of two Oscars for Best Actress in 1989 and 1992 shared with specialists from the National Center for Sex Education (CENESEX).
Dr. Mariela Castro Espín shared her impressions about the meeting with Jodie on Facebook today:
“It was a pleasant surprise that the American actress Jodie Foster showed interest in knowing about our work at Cenesex Cuba, during her recent private visit to the Island with her wife, Alexandra Hedison, and her sons Charles and Kit, with whom we had a beautiful family evening” .
Open to scientific search, exchange of experiences and dialogue of knowledge, CENESEX counts on professionals of recognized prestige from different scientific disciplines who use a comprehensive approach in the study of sexuality.
Foster, whose performances in Taxi Driver, The Silence of the Lambs and Panic Room have always been in the memory of her followers, has now been added to the list of artists of the United States who have visited the Island after the approach initiated by Havana and Washington in December 2014.
By Roberto Alfonso Lara, February 7, 2017
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
Elena has a sort of magnet for that. Going home or on her way to work, her eyes seem condemned to stumble upon the same scene. On a park bench, behind the post, hidden in any bush or in some old construction site, she finds the man who masturbates; he looks at her and comes out of his den to tempt her.
She suffers the “fate” of a society where flashers assault public spaces, determined to solve, openly, what they do not achieve on a personal level or in intimacy with their partner. She has knocked on doors several times and presumes that nobody is listening. No one responds when she claims to feel somewhat raped, everyday, on the street.
Women are the main target of this sexual aggression if we consider the common intention of the act or the underlying cultural background: machismo. By showing their genitals and masturbating in public places, men in fact exercise their power against women. But, is this only a gender-related problem?
Despite their sex, there is no choice for those who bump into addicts bent on showing the size of their penises and getting excited in broad daylight. When the person displays toward the stalker an attitude of surprise, panic or simple rejection –almost always going out of their way– it is because the person feels that her or his rights have been invaded and therefore violated.
Although women are the most affected, the problem concerns all citizens and should be addressed from that perspective. This involves a security issue: who can feel safe and protected while sexual flashers are present in the spaces we share?
Movie theaters used to be their favorite site, today they do not waste time in distinctions. Elena finds them everywhere, and sees them approaching her, chasing her, with their dicks in their hands, fully aware of the panic they cause. She is frightened and has come to see me in despair. She doesn’t know what street to take to get home in the evening.
Few people report the crime to the police, it’s true. But… what happens if they do? Do Cuban laws strongly condemn these cases of sexual harassment?
Decree Law 141, on the contravention of public order, sets a fine of 40 pesos to those who “offend modesty or good customs with lewd exhibition”. There is no other provision about it, not even to define the limit or scope of the lewd act. And the small fine, well … it’s almost like paying a cheap license to masturbate out in the street.
Without rigorous measures against those who violate collective coexistence, and go to the extreme of sexually harassing women and disrespecting an elementary norm of civility, every effort to eliminate the problem will suffer the same “fate” as Elena’s when, after knocking on many doors, she feels no one cares about her fear.
Yes, masturbation is a legitimate way of experiencing sexuality, but doing it visibly in open places is detrimental to the human condition. Neither institutions nor society as a whole should remain indifferent to this type of violence.
It is said that the first complaint in Cuba against masturbators in public places was registered in 1881. It is painful to say this: how long will Elena have to wait?
Time Does Not Devour Redeemers
Living statue of the strongest metal,
The monsters of gold and silt who could not
Kill you with bullet and poison,
Want time to condemn you to death.
They count your hours, are encouraged by seeing
your beard gone white on your Greek profile;
And on the high summit of serene thinking
The outbreak of your gray hair amuses them.
The peoples, however, give you roses,
poems and songs; more for the dreams
you made come true than for your birthdays.
Because the age of the heroes and geniuses
is not measured by days or years,
But for long centuries and millennia.
Jesús Orta Ruiz, “El Indio Naborí”
(Written in 1996, for Fidel’s 70th Birthday)
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
El tiempo no devora redentores
Estatua viva del metal más fuerte,
no pudiendo los monstruos de oro y cieno
matarte con la bala y el veneno,
quieren que el tiempo te condene a muerte.
Cuentan tus horas, les anima verte
blanca la barba de perfil heleno;
y en la alta cumbre del pensar sereno
el brote de tus canas les divierte.
Los pueblos, sin embargo, te dan rosas,
poemas y canciones más por cosas
de cumplesueños que de cumpleaños,
pues la edad de los héroes y los genios
no se mide por días ni por años
sino por largos siglos y milenios.
Jesús Orta Ruiz, “El Indio Naborí”
(Escrito en 1996, con motivo de
los 70 años de Fidel)