Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
In 2009 Caster Semenya astonished everyone with her triumph at the World Athletics Championships. She was 18 years old at the time and crowned a season in which she dropped seven seconds to her best time in the 800m flat. In Berlin, the mark of the final took her to 13th place of all time and meant the widest margin of a champion compared to her rivals. However, as soon as she passed the finish line, accusations began to haunt her.
“She is a man,” said Italian runner Elisa Cusma, and as a powder the media replied. “Master Semenya is he or she,” said one of the Spanish newspapers accredited in the German capital on the front page. Meanwhile, another prestigious European newspaper began the day with “Semenya’s sexual ambiguity”. Above Usain Bolt’s three records, the news became the success of the tournament.
Then the IAAF demanded gender tests to confirm that she was a woman. There they discovered that the South African woman did not have a uterus or ovaries, but she did have internal testicles and testosterone levels three times above normal. Caster Semenya suffered from hyperandogenism. The results came out 21 days after the gold medal. And in the midst of the public debate about her sexual identity, many forgot that she was a teenager who never questioned her status as a woman.
This is confirmed by her family in Limpopo, South Africa’s northernmost province and the land where she was born in January 1991. “She played like all girls,” the grandmother said in an interview with the BBC, “but she also liked to run and always excelled at it. For many people, however, Semenya has a man’s back, voice and face, and looks different to the naked eye.
Amid the controversy, the IAAF required her to limit her blood testosterone levels to 10 nanomoles per liter (nmol/L), a decision that forced the athlete to take medication to control her body. However, she still repeated the universal title in 2011 and won the Olympics a year later, but so much time fighting herself in the end turned out to be too much.
In 2013 she didn’t even attend the World Cup and two seasons later she finished the semifinals in last place. Her career wasn’t so successful anymore… until another intersex runner raised her voice.
It was Dutee Chand, an Indian sprinter unable to attend the Commonwealth Games by refusing to limit testosterone values. After her complaint, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) considered that there was no evidence capable of demonstrating the advantage of athletes with hyperandrogenism.
The verdict removed the fourth year of regulations and Caster Semenya once again displayed all her power in Rio de Janeiro, the London World Cup and the Diamond League stops. Step by step, the South African rose in the historic ranking, won her first medal in the 1500m and won several nominations for best athlete of the season. But on April 26 of this year another IAAF decision threatened his career again.
According to the athletics governing body, athletes with hyperandrogenism would be forced to reduce their testosterone levels to 5 nmol/L by November 1, 2018. Otherwise, their only option was to compete as men, move to tests such as long-distance races and pitches or participate in divisional events for intersex athletes.
To support its proposal, the IAAF released a study which states that no woman should record more than 5 nmol/L of testosterone, “but those with differences in sexual development can have very high levels, which extends to the normal male range and even beyond. It was the conclusion that TAS did not find in its first research.
According to the report, “a higher proportion of testosterone increases muscle mass by 4.4%, strength by 12-26%, and hemoglobin by 7.8%. Experts estimate that the advantage of having circulating testosterone levels in the normal range of men rather than in the normal female range is greater than 9%.
When the analysis came out, the South African relived the same shock that accompanied her after her gold medal in 2009. Nearly a decade later, just two years after the last pill to control her body, her name was back in the headlines again. Although the rule doesn’t mention her directly, her face became one of the most wanted. And this time, far from the Berlin teenager, she decided to stand up and face everyone.
“I just want to run naturally, the way I was born. It’s not fair to be told that I have to change. It’s not fair for people to question who I am. I’m Mokgadi Caster Semenya, I’m a woman and I’m fast,” he said just three months ago when he filed an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport to stop the controversial decision.
The athlete’s lawyers argued that the measure “is discriminatory, irrational and unjustifiable,” and that it violates the Olympic Charter and human rights. The IAAF, for its part, maintains its argument about the need to “create categories of competition that guarantee the success determined by talent, dedication and hard work, instead of other factors that are not considered fair or significant, such as the enormous physical advantages that an adult has over a child, or a male athlete over a woman.
However, the news of the last days is in the announcement of postponing for five months the implementation of the rule, in order to wait for the verdict of the CAS and thus avoid the delay of the process initiated by Semenya affects other athletes involved. Now everyone is waiting for the result before March 26th.
“Prolonging uncertainty for athletes seeking to compete next year and beyond is unfair, so we have reached an agreement with the claimants. We have agreed not to enforce regulations against anyone until the regulations are respected. In return, they have agreed not to prolong the process. All athletes need this situation resolved as quickly as possible,” said IAAF President Sebastian Coe.
Although the director claims to have full confidence “in the legal, scientific and ethical basis of the Regulations and therefore I hope that the Court of Arbitration for Sport will reject these challenges”, this delay means hope for Semenya and for the South African Athletics Association.
According to the Guardian, the president of the African body, Aleck Skhosana, the rules will have a “discriminatory effect on female athletes” and his duty lies in “protecting all female athletes, because the regulations marginalize certain female athletes on the basis of natural physical characteristics and/or sex.
And there lies the key to the whole affair. For Semenya, its lawyers and many of its defenders, it is unfair to proscribe a person with physical or genetic conditions different from the rest, but who was born this way and never took prohibited substances or underwent any medical treatment to achieve it.
“No one questions the strides of Usain Bolt, the wingspan of Michael Phelps or the cardiovascular system of the Spanish cyclist Miguel Indurain. There is no such rule among men,” they say.
For its part, although the IAAF study recognizes that in tests such as hammer throwing – a specialty dominated by European and white athletes – the excesses of testosterone in blood offer an even greater advantage, the rule does not apply to those throwers. Many then question whether there is also discrimination on the basis of skin colour or geographical origin.
“It is always worrying, as a matter of law, when policies seem to be aimed at limiting the participation of a small group of people,” Suzanne Goldberg, director of Columbia University’s Center for Gender and Sexuality Law, told AFP. Her statements, along with those of the Women’s Sports Foundation and the organizers of the prestigious Wilma Rudolph Courage Award, shed light on an issue that does not yet have a clear end.
If CAS rejects the South African runner’s arguments and ultimately applies the decision, she must limit her testosterone or consider the option of climbing to 5,000 or 10,000 flat meters, tests where for now the rule is not effective. Meanwhile, if she wins the legal battle, it is almost certain that the world will continue to see the strides and master races of a girl who for a long time has struggled not to lose her essence as a woman.
Posted: Saturday 29 September 2018 | 10:15:43 pm.
Author: Ana María Domínguez Cruz
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
Aesthetics and health. The debate is still endless because the search for beauty, beyond the superficial, can also be a guarantee of emotional health, psychological stability, high self-esteem and general well-being.
Plastic surgery professionals also work in the field of reconstructive surgery and caumatology, and say that in the first place the safety of the procedure and the training of the professionals who put it into practice should be paramount.
According to data released at the 2nd Congress of the Cuban Society of Plastic Surgery and Caumatology, held from September 5 to 7 on the Island, from 2001 to 2016, 309,469 plastic surgeries were performed in Cuba The majority (200,508) were aesthetic and the rest reconstructive.
They added that there is a considerable increase every year starting in 2011, which places us in line with the rest of the world, where each time the number of people who come or need this specialty grows.
Dr. Ariel C. Prada, a third-year resident in Plastic Surgery and Caumatology at the Hermanos Ameijeiras Clinical Surgical Hospital, recently arrived at the Multimedia Editorial Office of Juventud Rebelde to answer questions related to the discipline in the country, its potentialities and perspectives, as well as its risks and complications.
The professor instructor and editor of the magazine Cirugía Estética y Reparadora [Esthetic and Reparative Surgery] clarified not a few doubts of our readers -some teenagers and young people-, from whom we offer a selection.
Lissa: What are all the plastic surgery services that we can access for free?
Ariel C. Prada (ACP): You can access all plastic surgery services (including cosmetic surgery and reconstructive surgery) free of charge, after a medical assessment to determine whether or not you qualify for that intervention. There are procedures in which alloplastic materials are used (breast implants, buttocks, etc.) that in the case of cosmetic surgery must be acquired by the patient, having first the indication of its model and volume by the plastic surgeon.
Susel: Is it necessary to be of legal age to access an operation or is it only possible with the authorization of the legal guardian?
ACP: Like any medical-surgical procedure it has a legal background and risks. If you are a minor must have the approval of parents or legal guardians. We do not know the nature of the procedure you wish to be performed, but we always recommend that, if it is not strictly necessary, you wait until the age of majority, either to seek better aesthetic results or because they are purely elective surgical interventions (cosmetic surgery), not essential for your life. Remember that undergoing surgery, in this case, is a very personal decision that requires full awareness and maturity.
Hope: I want to remove the “crows feet”, a little fat from my belly, my neck wrinkles … How many cosmetic surgeries can a person do, and how long should you wait between one and another?
ACP: There is no specific number of cosmetic or reconstructive surgeries that can be performed on a person. Above all, it must be evaluated by a specialist, who will determine, according to his opinions, which is the best aesthetic option, according to factors as varied as the type of patient, age, basic diseases and magnitude of the procedure, among others.
“Our specialty is a complement to improve the quality of life of people. Thus, it in no way replaces healthy habits such as a good diet, avoiding toxic habits or frequent physical exercise. In fact, many times our intervention is not necessary or its magnitude decreases, with much better results. The patient must be aware and responsible for their own health, to have lifestyles that maintain the results of the procedure performed.
Yaima: I have black skin, am 52 years old… Does race influence this type of surgery?
ACP: In medicine, and particularly in plastic surgery and caumatology, one of the elements taken into account is the racial biotype. Age is also a factor that is considered depending on the patient’s desire.
Iris: How is the procedure so that a woman who was operated on a radical breast can have access to the reconstruction of this part of her body? Where should she go?
ACP: Surely you were seen in a center with oncology service. Your oncologist, after considering that you are free of the disease (at least for a year) can refer you to a reconstructive surgery service, either in an oncology hospital or clinical-surgical, to begin the process of breast reconstruction which can be done in several stages.
“The National Breast Cancer Program contemplates the free reconstruction of all women affected by this pathology, with quality and first-class breast implants in centers such as the National Institute of Oncology and Radiobiology (Havana), Hermanos Ameijeiras Clinical-Surgical Hospital (Havana) and Conrado Benítez Oncological Hospital (Santiago de Cuba). You should consult with your oncologist in which center, according to the regionalization of health services, you should be treated.
Carmen: Those of us in our third age can opt for simple procedures, such as, for example, one that allows us to lift our drooping eyelids?
ACP: Although there are “simple procedures”, all require the expertise, experience and “aesthetic vision” of a plastic surgeon. We mean that there are sick people, not diseases (an old medical adage). Therefore, each treatment must be individualized, because what a patient requests is not always the best aesthetic or technically possible option.
“In the elderly, we must take into account the compensation of their basic illnesses, because we are talking about purely elective procedures, in which the risk must be minimal and the benefit, the highest possible.
Yeny: What practices should a patient follow after having a lipectomy*? How long should she wait to perform physical exercises and which are the most recommended? Is it normal to feel punctures in the abdominal region two years after this type of surgery has been performed?
ACP: First of all, you must have followed the indications of the plastic surgeon who operated on you, because s/he knows the characteristics of the patient, the details of his procedure and therefore the limitations and possible evolution, among others.
“Generally, three months after the operation, as long as they have not been complex dermolipectomies, patients can gradually resume themselves into their lives fully, without excesses. Physical exercises should be dosed and increased progressively. Aerobes and any activity that tones the muscles improve the results of the procedure. Consult your surgeon about the symptomatology presented, because s/he will surely offer you a more exact explanation and a solution.
Surgeries do not replace healthy lifestyle habits, but they are a choice many make.
When we speak of plastic surgery, the term also includes reconstructive surgery, which guarantees not only an aesthetic result, but also the return of function to the affected area.
In this sense, Dr. Yamilé León Rodríguez, who works at Hermanos Ameijeiras Hospital, tells Juventud Rebelde that oncological, traumatic or congenital deformities in the face, in the breast due to cancer and ulcers in dissimilar parts of the body, among others, are treated in this way.
“We have a multi-disciplinary breast cancer care group that includes oncologists, mastólogos, radio-oncologists, imageologists, psychologists, psychiatrists and specialists in reconstructive plastic surgery, who enter the process after it has been decided how the ablative surgery of the patient will be conducted.
“The defect to be corrected may be in the breast, when a partial or total removal of an organ or body tissue is performed in a radical mastectomy, or to correct a defect that remains in the chest wall, as a result of an ablation of a large tumor.
“We have developed several techniques, including reconstruction with the local tissues of the breast, with muscles, especially the abdominal rectum and the broad dorsal, as well as through flaps obtained from the abdomen, or the novel technique applied in the country of the sentinel ganglion, which determines the degree of spread of cancer.
León Rodríguez points out that patients of different ages, from 18 to 85 years old, have been treated with this type of aesthetic reconstruction. “The results show that it is not mandatory to perform total exeresis and that the subsequent reconstruction, with or without the use of prostheses, gives the woman back one of the classic attributes of femininity”.
Rhinoplasty is a complex but generally not life-threatening procedure.
Dr. Julio Cesar Galvez Chavez recognizes that in the desire to look younger, more and more patients come to his office. They should know that there are also selection criteria for cervicofacial rejuvenation surgeries.
“If there are signs of aging, then we can consider this type of surgery. We can find these elements in young people, perhaps because they have very white skin. In general, however, we perform them in patients over 40 years and up to 60, although the age limit is not as determinant as physical conditions and health.
“Many people believe that this is a magical intervention that will return them to the freshness they had at 15 years. This isn’t so, because, although it is guaranteed to make you look younger, you can’t turn back the clock.
The fundamental motivations for performing a surgery in the environment of cervicofacial rejuvenation are related to the fall of the eyebrows, the appearance of horizontal or transverse wrinkles in the eyebrows, the excess of skin on the eyelids and the appearance of fat pockets in that area, the loss of the contour of the jaw and the presence of the so-called marionette lines, the fall of the chin and the loss of angularity in the neck, among others.
Gálvez Chávez is also an expert in rhinoplasty, an aesthetic procedure indicated for those who wish to modify the size and shape of their nose as well as to improve their respiratory function in case of deformities in their septum.
“We perform reductive rhinoplasty in those noses of large dimensions and augmentative for flat or underdeveloped. In addition, we can make other procedures to model or perfect the features according to aesthetic patterns worldwide, either in the tip of the nose, the wings, the back, the nostrils and in general in all regions of the nose.
“Rhinoplasties are not recommended for people over 40 years of age because the skin’s ability to adapt to structural changes is important. This is most noticeable before the age of 30,” says the specialist, who notes that, although vital rules of care must be respected after rhinoplasty, it is not a life-threatening surgery.
How many people yearn for an aesthetic surgery after which they will look slim and slender? Dr. Heizel Escobar Vega, a specialist at the Hospital Clínico-Quirúrgico Hermanos Ameijeiras, states that this is the main reason why patients come to her practice. They ignore the fact that liposculpture is not a method for treating obesity.
“Liposculpture is the surgical treatment we perform to treat the areas of the body where fat deposits are found, such as the abdomen, the trochanteric regions and the arms, among others. Not only is it a question of removing those fat accumulations, but also of performing the lipo-injection in other areas in which they are desired.
“With this procedure, we obtain a corporal mold, as much in men as in women. Lately, they want to lose fat, in the abdomen and lumbar regions. They also request high definition surgery to obtain the well-known “squares”, an increased request also in recent times in the female population”.
Escobar Vega insists that not everyone can be a candidate for this surgical intervention. “We are rigorous in the selection of patients. Although people generally think that it is a simple surgery, due to the fact that it is among the most performed globally, it is certainly one of the riskiest and has the highest mortality associated with it, depending on the time and volume of fat extracted. Moreover, its realization leads to the modification of the metabolic, biochemical and hepatic mechanisms of the organism.
“Follow-up after surgery is essential, and the patient must respect the measures indicated by his attending physician.
Dr. María del Carmen Franco Mora is a specialist at the Juan Bruno Zayas General Hospital in Santiago de Cuba. She explains that the demand for gluteal lipo-injection has grown, a procedure that requires prior liposuction or liposculpture, from which the fat extracted is injected into that area of the body.
“The most frequent general complications are associated with the most feared, ranging from fatty and pulmonary thromboembolism, septic shock and severe anemias, to local infection and hematomas, among others.
“The criteria established for the classification of the patient must be very respected. We do not operate on people with a body mass index above 30 until they lose weight before, nor on those with a history of thrombotic diseases in lthe ower limbs or with the presence of varicose veins, nor on those who take oral contraceptives, among other exceptions”.
Nadia Murad won the Nobel Peace Prize 2018 for her fight against the rape of women in war contexts.
Author: Ana Laura Palomino García | email@example.com
October 23, 2018 20:10:41
A CubaNews translation. Edited by Walter Lippmann.
“My pain is like a hundred deaths. I sadly sentenced a 14-year-old girl to BBC MUNDO, after living such a traumatic experience as being a sex slave.
My words do not find the way to express in prose so much pain. Her phrase, however, reminds me that her story is multiplied into others, to the shame of humanity.
Nadia Murad won the Nobel Peace Prize 2018 and understands very well the sorrow of this young woman. The recognition is undoubtedly an honor, but this woman bears the cross of having been a sexual slave of the terrorist group Islamic State (IS). Since then, her struggle has not ceased, and she travels the world as an activist against the rape of women in contexts of war.
When collecting the award I remembered that “thousands of women are still imprisoned in the hands of IS mercenaries.” For this reason, “my survival is based on defending the rights of persecuted communities and victims of sexual violence. One prize and one person cannot do it. We need an international response,” she told the Spanish daily El País.
Murad is part of Yazidism, a minority religion that dates back to 2000 B.C. and has its origins in the teachings of Iranian prophet and reformer Zoroastro.
This group within Iraq has been persecuted and its members forced to convert to Islam, or die at the hands of terrorists.
It was from the year 2014, when the Islamic State began the extermination against the Yazidis and Shiites, using all kinds of vexations against them.
Nadia’s nightmare began on a normal day, in that place she called home, when IS terrorists came to her village in Iraq and killed most of the men while women under the age of 45 were kidnapped, she confessed to the BBC.
Murad suffered the same fate as almost all of these young women. They were already in the hands of the terrorists and at night the sale of the girls began among the IS terrorists, most of them to be sexually enslaved. This inhumane practice is part of the propaganda to attract more followers to the organization.
“They began to walk around the room, looking at us, while we shouted and asked for compassion. They surrounded the prettiest girls and asked them: “How old are you? They looked at their mouths and their hair. They are all virgins, aren’t they? they asked the guard, who nodded and said, “Of course, like a merchant proud of his products,” Murad recalls sadly for El Diario.
After living hard experiences, she managed to flee from her captors and began a fight without rest, at the risk of her own safety.
This battle, as she repeats in each of her speeches, will not cease until the creation of a specialized tribunal to try those responsible for the crimes committed by terrorists in Syria and Iraq.
Murad tries to make the world aware of what’s going on with her people. She tells her story over and over again. She does everything she can because her experience is not lived by another adolescent or girl, neither in Iraq nor anywhere else in the world.
The self-proclaimed Islamic State has destroyed the lives of some 3,000 Yazidi girls and women, according to El País newspaper. Raped, locked up and sold as simple objects, they try to recover their souls when they manage to escape from their kidnappers.
I will be the last. The history of my captivity and my struggle against the Islamic State is a book written by Murad as a testimony of her experiences. In this way, she aims to reach a wider audience and raise awareness.
She has travelled to different countries in order to meet with the leaders of those nations. However, the response has not been as expected and, while world leaders make a decision, there are still girls and women being kidnapped.
Nadia has urged the international community to “work together with the determination to show that genocidal campaigns will not only fail, but will also hold perpetrators accountable and that there will also be justice for survivors.
But the world becomes blind to these problems. Perhaps this is because there are others that are considered “more important,” such as economic crises or political conflicts between great world powers. Meanwhile, wars, violence and the pains they cause continue waiting for a common effort, for human sensitivity, so that stories like those of Nadia and the thousands of girls turned into sexual slaves are not repeated and we never have to listen again: “I ask the world to do something for us”.
Learn about the victory of a grandmother’s love in the voice of attorneys Anahita Sanchez and Rodolfo Echevarria.
By IPS Cuba, Feb 24, 2018
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
HAVANA: Lawyers linked to the case where a Cuban court awarded custody and care of three minors to their grandmother, a lesbian woman who lives with her partner, note that the sentence recognized in some way the union between people of the same sex.
This was expressed in an interview with IPS Cuba by lawyers Rodolfo Echevarría and Anahita Sánchez, who were in charge of the legal representation of Eumnice Violeta Cardoso, the grandmother of three children who were orphaned.
The event transcended as a victory for the community of lesbians, gays, bi, trans en intersexuales (LGBTI), which is waiting for the legalization of equal marriage and respect for other rights such as homoparental adoption.
It all began in March 2016, when Vioem Karen Díaz Cardoso, the daughter of Eumnice Violeta and mother of two girls and one boy, aged nine, eight and six respectively, died after fighting lymphatic cancer.
To determine the custody and care of the three children, the grandmother and the children’s father, Guillermo Gomez, went to court.
In October 2017, the family room of the Tribunal Municipal Popular de Boyeros, a municipality on the southern outskirts of Havana, mediated the family conflict and left custody and care in the hands of the grandmother.
The news broke last January in international news media and Internet social networks.
“In the ruling, which is the binding and obligatory part of the sentence, the court confers the guardianship and care only in favor of Eumnice. That has to be well clarified,” said Echevarría, because current local legislation does not recognize same-sex couples or homoparental families.
“Although the sentence recognizes in its first Considering the active role of Isabel (the couple of Eumnice), who is also the godmother of children, in the upbringing of minors, “he detailed.
“Nor is there any sign of “discrimination” in the sentence, that is, indirectly there is a recognition of the union between these two people, because it refers to the godmother of the children, her partner, also plays a fundamental role in the care of the three minors,” he continued.
“Perhaps that is the novelty of the sentence,” said the lawyer.
And he clarified that the father was not deprived of parental authority. “He has duties and rights also with respect to these minors,” he said.
Do we say they are lesbians?
Both jurists admitted that they had doubts about whether or not they should address the homosexuality of the grandmothers when filing the lawsuit.
“In self-consultation with my conscience, I said to myself, “Do I put all the data related to this family?” recalled Echevarría.
The lawyer was concerned that the other party might use the fact that it was a homosexual couple to allege alleged harm to children because of same-sex relationships.
“And I said to myself… why not? You have to put the patch on before the hole comes out. They are in a relationship as a couple and that doesn’t in any way affect minors,” she recalled.
“To introduce that element, she obviously had to have the consent of Eumnice Violeta. She always agreed, even asked that this information be introduced in the lawsuit,” she continued.
Attorney Sanchez described the court’s reaction on the day of the hearing as “impressive.”
“When the grandmother finished speaking, with very personal and moving experiences, the godmother stood up and explained. Everyone ended up crying, and the two of them embraced,” she shared.
“It was a very nice process, because the court didn’t have the slightest doubt that they have a relationship. But that didn’t mean that they were deprived of their rights, on the contrary,” she said.
The lawyer maintained that “the judiciary didn’t show any kind of opposition, neither in the act of appearance nor in the sentence” because of the sexual orientation of the grandmothers.
An exceptional case
The case of Eumnice arrived in April 2017 at the hands of Rodolfo and Anahita, two professionals from the Law Firm Specialized in Cassation Resources, thanks to the recommendation of a colleague who assessed the sensitivity of the problem.
“They had been given little hope, and the granting of guardianship and care to grandparents is certainly unusual,” Echevarría said, as the law states that custody should be vested in the father after the mother’s death.
However, “this is not the first case of detachment of custody and care in favor of the extended family, such as grandparents, although they have not been abundant,” said the lawyer.
Due to the very nature of the work in the law firm where they work, which handles cases from all over the country, Rodolfo and Anahita affirm that there will have been three or four similar cases in the rest of the Cuban provinces.
Nor do they believe that he is the only one in Havana, although “there are many judges who have not yet had any in their jurisdiction. Since it’s not the first, it’s not that many,” Sánchez said.
In fact, the first setback faced by the family was that the Popular Municipal Court of Old Havana, in an unusual intervention by the Attorney General’s Office, alleged a lack of competence to deal with the case and ordered its transfer to the municipality of Boyeros, where the children’s father resided.
New paths in family law
As professionals, Echevarría and Sánchez maintain that the positive solution to this case brought them great satisfaction.
“Law has to go hand in hand with these new family paths. There are reconstituted, assembled families, and there is already a recognition of the role of the extended family,” Echevarría reflected.
For the lawyer, “the right has to look at the new paradigm shifts, from a nuclear family based on the ties derived from marriage, to a family that is sustained by affection.
The family rooms today reinterpret current but outdated Cuban norms and apply international agreements signed by the country to solve family law cases, pending the postponed revision by parliament of a draft of a new Family Code to replace the one drafted in 1975. (2018)
By Flor de Paz, Cuban journalist and plastic artist
March 8, 2018
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
This is the last interview given by the director of Editorial de la Mujer, who passed away in Havana on Sunday, March 4. Her testimony is part of an audio-visual series that was recently recorded to dignify the work of Cuban journalists, who will be holding their 10th Congress this year.
The project, which will soon be broadcast on Cuban television, is being carried out by young graduates of FAMCA and is the fruit of collaboration between the Union of Journalists of Cuba (UPEC) and the Association Hermanos Saíz (AHS).
— Constance and strength? A trait of my personality. I am, I don’t want to use the term fighter because it has many meanings, but I am a combative woman who always believes in Anaïs Nin’s phrase: “Put your dreams on the horizon and start walking”. You never reach the horizon, we know that, but push.
The entrance hall and living room of Isabel Catalina Moya Richard’s house are very spacious, as in most Havana construction of the first decades of the 20th century. Both spaces are demarcated only by four circular columns, and are passageways for the furniture that inhabits it —sofás, armchairs, armchairs, tables— and, among the latter, a huge one that Enrique Sosa, a professor at the University of Havana and panelist for years in the television program Escriba y Lea [Write and Read], gave to Isabelita.
It’s San Lázaro Street, in the popular neighborhood of Centro Habana. The noises of the road buzz around the house like a volcano erupting. And Isabel, seated in front of the precious wooden table that Professor Sosa gave her, now supporting an old typewriter, a souvenir from La Catrina, photos with Juan Carlos, and Gabriela, the 20-year-old daughter of both of them, as well as other ornaments, talks about the image she has hanging on one of the walls of the room: “it is Frida Kahlo’s Blue House”. It was given her by its author, the Mexican Aurea Alanis, who was in Havana for a course in gender photography.
—I’ve always been very gregarious, I enjoy being in a group, I’m very social, but I realized that I wanted to study journalism because I liked to write, I liked to research, I liked to read, I liked Humphrey Bogart’s films, from film noir, in which it was always a journalist who discovered everything. And I thought: I want to be that kind of person who investigates, who reveals secrets, she says, while Daniela Muñoz Barroso and Lena Hernández’s cameras “focus” on her eloquence.
During a pause, her mother, also named Isabel, also 72, reaches for a glass of water and medication. “All my life I have known what my faculties and shortcomings are. I have a degenerative bone disease that has forced me to use braces to walk since I was born. I’ve been operated on many times and during those periods I devoured books and books; of course, without order or concert, I read The Consecration of Spring, by Carpentier, as well as seven novels by Corín Tellado.
At that stage she tried, above all, to fill herself with a world of words that would allow her to live other lives in her own life. And then, in high school, when teachers began to direct their reading, she realized that she really had writing skills.
—But look, I never approached journalism as literature; I have not written stories or fiction as journalism. No, I’ve always been interested in writing essays on history or politics. It’s important to write about reality. And, of course, I’ve written poems, like everyone else, to give them to the groom, but not because they are publishable. Far from it.
—I would say that I had a beautiful childhood; a very happy growth process. Starting school was an important time because I always loved studying. In the fifth grade, I won a literature contest with a fantasy fiction story. I felt tremendous joy!
“I don’t forget that in elementary school my political life began, even though I wasn’t very aware of that reality at the time. Many times, we would go with Vietnamese hats and leaflets glued on our uniforms to support Vietnam in its war against the United States. Also, one of the first marches I participated in as a child was for Angela Davis’ freedom. Then she came to Cuba and I realized that I was already worried about those problems. Later, in the middle school and high school years, when I made friendships that I still have, and when my interests were taking shape, I definitely knew that I wanted to study journalism.”
Isabel Catalina Moya Richard was born in Havana on November 25, 1961. She is the eldest daughter of a family of four, including her parents. Their existence – marked by the impossibility of their organisms to assimilate calcium and, in turn, an optimism compensating for the lack of the mineral and all difficulties – can be summed up this way:
On her feet, on crutches or in a wheelchair, she is still herself: PhD in Communication Sciences, director of Editorial de la Mujer and the magazine Mujeres, the Associate Professor of the Faculty of Communication at the University of Havana, the president of the Chair of Gender and Communication and coordinator of the International Diploma in Gender and Communication at the José Martí International Institute of Journalism; the admirable José Martí Prize for Dignity and the National Journalism Prize (for her life’s work), awarded by the Union of Journalists of Cuba in 2016 and 2017.
—When I graduated, in 1984, I was the first in the group and was placed as a disseminator in the Office of Nuclear Affairs, but I did not agree. My dissatisfaction did not go down well because that institution was very important at the time. However, I wanted to do journalism and, when I asked to be relocated, I didn’t know where I was going to work for three months. The second choice was Mujeres [Women} magazine, and I took it as a punishment.
“How wrong I was! There were opportunities that many of my classmates didn’t have. I know all of Cuba thanks to my work as a reporter for Mujeres. I have been in the Pico Turquino, on the black beaches of the Isla de la Juventud, in the wonderful landscapes of Pinar del Río, in the Escambray… And, as at the same time I was attending the correspondence section, one day I thought: “Oh, I’m going to do a postgraduate course in research methodology”. And so I was able to design a content analysis tool that allowed us to classify all the letters we received. We get a lot of information from them, both for the magazine’s work and for the attention to the problems they alluded to. And I was forever hooked on research.
With the support of the Federation of Cuban Women (FMC), Isabelita had the opportunity to do a course on feminism at Casa Morada in Chile, and to participate in numerous international events on gender. Until in one of her daily inner dialogues, she asked herself: “Well, I have to try to create an environment where theories of gender and communication converge and thus we will have a better journalism”. And in this approximation, her doctoral thesis is aligned, for which she received the highest grade.
In the School of Communication, Isabelita gave her first gender classes, a horizon reached by which she lets us see great passion. When thinking about it, she brings to mind, that master’s degree given in Villa Clara, “one of the adventures in which I enrolled with UPEC: the teachers had to stay there every school week”.
Then it was time to found the Chair in Gender and Communications at the José Martí International Institute of Journalism, thanks to Guillermo Cabrera, she said. In this way, a line of training and research was opened in our country, of which we can be proud today. This is because, in addition to having graduates from numerous graduate schools, some of them have done their doctoral theses on the subject.
—More than two hundred communicators from all over Latin America have graduated from our courses. Through the Chair, I have also been able to teach at several important universities in the region and in Europe. Two years ago, for the first time, I gave online TV classes to some high schools in the United States. Having students everywhere is a delightful experience.
It’s February 3, 2018, Saturday morning. Isabelita, in front of Daniela and Lena’s cameras, talks about the issues that move her the most. Irina, with a demanding expression, reveals her concern for the continuous sounds coming from Calle San Lázaro, but this is the daily environment in which she lives.
—The challenges facing women in Cuba? The first is to think that they have already achieved everything. When we look at the statistics and see the number of women in the National Assembly, the number of women scientists and women communicators, and that more than seventy percent of the prosecutors are women, and so on, we come up with a distorted idea of reality. Because we have managed to open ourselves up in professions that were not previously considered feminine, we are now in the most complex moment, that of confronting subjectivity, culture, value judgments, and customs. These are much more difficult to change, since they are based on collective imagery and social representations. This is what we sing when we sing a bolero, a salsa song or sometimes, unfortunately, a reggaeton and what the novels tell us: romantic, dependent loves.
Her reflection is based on two substantive arguments: the communicational processes in Cuba do not problematize the reductive approaches of these audiovisual spaces, nor the subjective gaps that in the seventies the media managed to tackle documentaries such as that of Sara Gómez, Mi aportación, and the feature films Retrato de Teresa. Furthermore, attitudes that unwittingly blame and associate the advancement of women with certain family crises are frequent.
Today they say, “Women don’t give birth,” but that’s not the problem. The problem is that society has put women in the dichotomy of motherhood or professional fulfillment, so society has to change in order for the couple, the family, to have more children. It is not just a matter for women because even with all the advances in science and technology, it takes an egg and sperm to conceive a human being. But the media, instead of questioning this sexist approach, return and blame women for the problem of low birth rate.
Despite being public, of representing a social system that has human beings as the center of its goals, the media in our country does not achieve a racial balance, for example, Its aesthetics are very homogeneous: the majority of women come out with straightened hair. I liked it very much that the other day I saw a young black girl with her braids on the Morning Magazine. Because, as I say, there is no problem with straightening your hair, but in that fashion, it becomes a cultural mandate that forces you to assume aesthetics with which not all want to express themselves. It is still a challenge for diversity to be understood.
Using her experience as an example of what can be done in the communication processes, Isabelita talks about a work recently published in Mujeres magazine. It was about the people who sell coffee and fried foods from a window of what was the living room of her house, of a small house. And she asks, “What about the children living in these homes, where do they do their homework? You guys get to work? How do you reconcile business and family life in a small space like that??? Oh, and what good is it, grandparents live longer, but now the child is going to marry so grandma must move out of her room, and sleep in the living room…?
I know that there are people who think that these issues are minor and that the only thing that matters is global warming, but in what happens global warming there are people who live similar tragedies every day, so it is very good that there is journalism for global warming and that there is journalism that helps in the day-to-day, a service journalism and a journalism of social activism.
Isabelita, what does journalism mean to you?
A commitment to my contemporaries, to my country, to my people; a passion, a passion that saves. I have been sick, in the hospital at terrible times, when one of those moments in which the fragility of the human body is observed. Someone passed by and said to me, “Oh, how I like your magazine”. And, listen to me, all the fears and pains have been frightened away. So I tell you, journalism is my salvation.
And she added:
Rosa Luxemburg said that socialism is not just a knife and fork problem, it is a profound cultural revolution. I, therefore, believe that journalism will help transform machismo, sexism, homophobia, racism, the inheritance of five hundred years of Western Judaeo-Christian culture, first, from an atrocious first colonialism and, later, from a capitalism that destroys human beings.
(taken from Cubaperiodistas)
September 3, 2018
By Ana María Domínguez Cruz
Posted: Tuesday 07 August 2018 | 09:06:12 PM
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
When it comes to a haircut, a bold nail polish or a bold piece of clothing, it’s not as worrisome, because of the ephemeral nature of fashion, in the end. The alarm is triggered when health risks are evident when assuming styles and habits that far from guaranteeing beauty, touch us with danger.
Several blogs dedicated to fashion and pseudo beauty, as well as photos, have multiplied in social networks, promoting a series of aesthetic fashions, based on extreme thinness and non-professional criteria. Examples: the bikini bridge, thigh gap, diastema, belly-button challenge and ab-crack, among others.
During the summer, in particular, the fashion of slimming the belly until the rubber on the bottom of the bikini becomes so tight between the hips has spread so far. The textile piece then forms a bridge over the navel that can only be achieved when adolescent girls practice arbitrary diets without any balance or with excessive fasting periods.
When we talk about a thigh gap, it is because we also test our body’s strength by trying to make the upper part of the thighs so firm and thin that it leaves a clear space between them and the pubic area. Specialists warn that this is very dangerous, because, to obtain this separation of the calves from their inner faces, depends on the anatomy of the hips and not on the amount of muscle or fat in the leg, girls often resort to anorexic behaviors that put their nutritional needs at risk.
The furrow of separation between the two muscles of the abdomen in a well-marked way is another tendency between adolescents and adults, called the “ab-crack”. They do not take into account the risk of obsessive hyper-musculation from unbalanced protein intake, or in some cases, from abuse of vitamin supplements and other less-desirable substances.
As if that weren’t enough, there are plenty of images on Instagram and Facebook of teenagers who want to show off their slender bodies, running one arm behind their backs to try to touch their bellybuttons with their hands, while with their other hand they take on a selfie. The belly button challenge also certainly flirts with dangerous diets and eating disorders, as does the so-called collarbone challenge, another challenge for teenagers who want to demonstrate that they can fit a string of coins in the gap between their collarbone and their neck.
For both the female and male sexes, the diastema is now spreading as a fashion, which is nothing more than the search for the separation of the upper denture into two halves after a widening of the central teeth. It is then valued to undergo an expensive dental operation to wear what is not naturally available.
In the area of cosmetic surgery, we note with concern the fact that some teenagers between the ages of 13 and 16 want to undergo labiaplasty, an aesthetic operation that seeks to resize the vaginal lips and leave them shorter, more even or more turgid.
The followers of this surgery for aesthetic purposes consider preventive reasons regarding hygiene or pain when having sexual intercourse, as well as psychological reasons when the lips are asymmetrical and when sexual acceptance and self-esteem disorders are associated, but what is alarming is that this type of operation is not recommended before the age of 18, since the vaginal lips during adolescence are in full growth phase.
Also not without risks, and also associated with high prices is the pubic lifting, another practice used by girls and boys who want to attract more from a sexual point of view to their partners. They are exposed to lightening the adipose tissue of the Mount of Venus in women and the lower abdomen in men to rejuvenate the urogenital area.
How many wrong associations with beauty! Imitating aesthetic models that are far removed from what is healthy only shows the vulnerabilities that those who do not feel completely satisfied with their physique and way of being suffer during adolescence.
It is a complex period in life, say psychologists and sociologists, because adolescents need to build their identity and value the opinion that others have of them. However, this is the best time to alert them to the health consequences of certain behaviors and, above all, to the importance of accepting themselves and cultivating what may be invisible to the eyes, but which is ultimately the most valuable.
This is a dialectical and modern Constitution, if tradition is to be broken, tradition is to be broken, because breaking tradition is also a revolutionary act. Under socialism there is no room for any kind of discrimination against humans. Love does not have sex,” stressed intellectual Miguel Barnet.
Author: Susana Antón | firstname.lastname@example.org
July 22, 2018 12:07:10
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
As part of the analysis of the Draft Constitution at the First Ordinary Session of the Ninth Legislature of the National Assembly of the People’s Power, some of the issues discussed were gender equality, marriage and family as part of Article 68.
Mariela Castro Espín, a deputy for the municipality of Plaza de la Revolución, commented that with Article 68, Cuba places itself, from a perspective of comprehensive protection of people because of their sexual orientation and gender identity, among the leading countries in the recognition and guarantee of human rights.
“This proposal for protection is the result of the maturity reached by the revolutionary process that legitimizes and protects social relations that materialize in various types of families, from which the State’s duty to protect them and not to discriminate against them is derived,” she said.
She expressed her agreement with the provisions of Article 68, which provides for the voluntary union of two persons with the legal capacity to do so and is based on the rights and duties of spouses.
Castro Espín submitted for the plenary’s consideration that the continuation of the text of the article should be left to legislation because it is specific and refers to the obligations of couples who choose to be mothers and fathers, in addition to the fact that it is based on the absolute equality of the duties and rights of the spouses and on the conditions that favor the achievement of their ends.
“It would result in an axiological and normative contradiction in the letter of the constitutional bill between the grounds of discrimination, sexual orientation and gender identity in Articles 39 and 40, and we would discriminate against families with gay parents in Article 68,” she added.
On the other hand, she stressed that Article 41 stipulates that the State works to create the necessary conditions to facilitate equality of citizenship and “the best way to say it is to do it”, she concluded.
For her part, the Secretary General of the Federation of Cuban Women, Teresa Amarelle Boué, commented that it is a step forward that it has been taken away that marriage is the consensual union between a man and a woman..
However, there is no mention of adoption in this Article, and this is an issue that should be left to the Family Code and that should govern what marriage and other issues will be like.
“No one can be discriminated against because of their orientation. All rights are for all people and it is up to couples who want to be mothers and fathers to decide,” said Teresa Amarelle.
On the subject, Homero Acosta commented that the concept of matrimony that has been changed has an impact on the continuation of the article because it has a vision of a single-parent family and the issues related to children have a different formulation in the article.
The issue of children is regulated in Articles 69, 70 and 72, which refer to a concept of the family. “In no way does it limit the obligation of parents, whatever marriage in which it is constituted,” he said.
Yolanda Ferrer, deputy for Pinar del Río, commented that marriage must rest on the absolute equality of the duties and rights of the spouses and the law must determine the way in which it is constituted.
“We are taking a revolutionary and very important first step. There is no justification for depriving the happiness of forming a family. We have to face prejudice and make the justice we defend inclusive,” she said.
Speaking again, Deputy Mariela Castro Espín stated that “if we consider the reproductive issue, we must be consistent in giving these guarantees to all families”.
Miguel Barnet also commented that we are entering a new era. “This is a dialectical and modern Constitution, if tradition is to be broken, tradition must be broken, because breaking tradition is also a revolutionary act and under socialism there is no room for any kind of discrimination against humans. Love doesn’t have sex,” she said.
At the conclusion of the plenary debate on the subject, the deputies agreed to leave Article 68 as it stands and to include the terms “families” throughout the Constitution.
Symbol of the and militant protesting woman of the feminist movement, the French novelist visited Cuba and, hand in hand with its main leaders, learned about the Revolution and the role of the so-called weaker sex in the emerging Caribbean social process.
By Javier Gómez Lastra
May 26, 2016
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews
“The fact that determines the present status of women is the stubborn survival of the oldest traditions in the new civilization being outlined. That is what is unknown to hasty observers who see women as inferior to the opportunities offered to them today, or who see only dangerous temptations in those opportunities. The truth is that her situation lacks balance, and for that reason it is very difficult for her to adapt to it. (…)
“Everything still encourages the unmarried young woman to expect ‘Prince Charming’ fortune and happiness rather than to attempt the difficult and uncertain conquest alone. In particular, it will give her the hope of reaching a higher social stratum than her own, a miracle that will not reward her life’s work. But such hope is dire, because it divides their energies and interests; it is a division that is perhaps the most serious disadvantage for women. The parents still educate the daughter with a view to marriage more than they promote her personal development, and the daughter sees in it so many advantages (…)”.
This text, taken from the work “Le Deuxième Sexe” or “The Second Sex” by Simone de Beauvoir, a French writer, narrator and philosopher and an essential figure in 20th-Century literature and thought, was a theoretical starting point for various feminist groups and became a classic work of contemporary ideology.
The piece, which breaks the existing canons in Europe since the Second World War, tells a story related to the social status of women and analyzes the different characteristics of male oppression.
It also exposes the gender situation from the point of view of biology, psychoanalysis and Marxism, and destroys the existing feminine myths, inciting the search for the authentic and full gender liberation.
Considered ambitious, the text also maintains that the struggle for women’s emancipation is different and parallel to that of the classes and that the main problem to be faced by the so-called weaker sex is not the ideological but the economic front.
The publication evoked strong reactions because of the marked character of nonconformity that the women of that time began to show.
The big push for gender equality
The beginning of the second half of the 20th century had very particular characteristics in the socio-cultural field in Europe. If anything brought about radical changes in ethical, political and philosophical thought in the countries of the Old Continent after the World Wars, it was the enormous need to achieve fundamental human rights and the emancipation of women.
Faced with the example of the policy of equality for all, applied by the governments of the nations of the newly created socialist bloc, many thinkers, human rights fighters, writers, poets, philosophers, and even politicians in Western Europe took a 180-degree turn in their way of valuing life and began to call for true equality between men and between men and women.
It was in this context that Simone de Beauvoir stood out and left a deep mark on the universal history of the world, leaving behind not only her extensive literary work, but also her tireless struggle.
In spite of her bourgeois origin, from a very young age the intellectual knew the difficulties of her contemporaries in a world dominated by men, markedly masculine, made in the image and likeness of the male and where women were relegated to domestic chores or simply to love.
Her work reflected women’s problems, marked by exclusion from production and home-based processes and purely reproductive functions, which represented the loss of all social ties and the possibility of being free.
A radical change
Simone was born in Paris on January 9th, 1908, in a district where coffee shops were beginning to proliferate, where literary gatherings were present and intellectual environments that logically influenced the writer’s education were created.
Very early on she excelled as a brilliant student and studied philosophy at the Sorbonne. Until 1943, she was involved in teaching in high schools in Marseille, Rouen and Paris.
At the age of eighteen, she wrote the first literary essay where the protagonist has many traits in common with her. From that moment on, literature played an essential role in her work.
In 1929 he met the philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre, who became her companion for the rest of her life. Together they shared almost five decades of existence.
Sartre’s influence was unquestionable and Simone began to make use of her existential freedom. This led her to renounce her family and friends, adapting to the real world and choosing a new system of life based on her encounter with the philosopher.
Under these principles, she managed to penetrate the world of the Parisian intellectuals of the 1930s, being one of the few women that this closed universe came to accept.
Extensive literary legacy
According to the vast majority of critics, researchers and scholars of Simone’s literature, in her literary texts she dared to revise the concepts of history and character and incorporated, from an existentialist perspective, the themes of freedom, situation and commitment.
Together with Sartre, Albert Camus and Merleau-Ponty, among others, she founded the magazine Les Temps Modernes [Modern Times], whose first issue was published in October 1945 and became a political and cultural reference point for French thought in the mid-20th century.
The thinker’s extensive work includes the texts “The Guest” (1943), “The Blood of Others” (1944), “Pyrrhus and Cinema” (1944), “All Men are Mortal” (1946), “For a Morality of Ambiguity” (1947), “America Today” (1948) and “The Farewell Ceremony” (1981).
In the latter, she openly dealt with the curious love relationship, from her youthful days to her old age, and the death of her companion, which implies their hard separation. Despite the absolute identification between them, they never shared the same roof, making use of freedom and with no other purpose than the mutual need to find each other, which allowed them to achieve a perfect symbiosis.
The work ends with the striking phrase: “His death separates us. My death will not bring us together, it is so. It’s been a long time since our lives could have melted together.
In the mid-twentieth century, with some feminists, she also established the Women’s Rights League, which set out to react firmly to any sexist discrimination, and prepared a special issue of Modern Times to discuss the subject.
Her many testimonial and autobiographical titles also included other texts such as “Memoirs of a Formal Young Woman” (1958), “The Fullness of Life” (1960), “The Power of Things” (1963), “A Very Sweet death” (1964), “Old age” (1968), “The End of Accounts” (1972) and “The Farewell Ceremony” (1981).
Character is destiny
The Algerian war broke out in 1954 and Simone felt powerless in the face of reality, thus beginning her period of political struggle.
She took part in anti-fascist demonstrations and gave lectures to the students, but all attempts to impose criteria against the system were unsuccessful, and, despite her efforts, Charles de Gaulle was declared President of the Republic.
This new political situation prompted Simone to rekindle the need to rebel once again, and she agreed to accompany Sartre to Cuba in 1960. There she met Fidel Castro and Ernesto Che Guevara, among other revolutionaries, in Havana. Cuban photographer Alberto Korda documented the meeting between the couple and the two leaders.
Both Sartre and Simone were always fascinated by the Heroic Guerrilla. At the time of his death, seven years later, Sartre wrote: “Che was not only an intellectual, but also the most complete human being of our time”.
The couple spent almost two months working on the main island of the Antilles, which led to their subsequent and continued dedication to the defense of the Cuban Revolution.
They made an intense tour of the island, which included a tour of the Ciénaga Zapata swamp, the inspirational examination of the book “Sartre Visits Cuba”, published in Havana in 1960 by Ediciones Revolución. In its pages, the philosopher narrated his experiences in the country.
Fundamental decade for women and their rights
The Frenchwoman’s ideas soon reached the rest of the world and Simone de Beauvoir centers began to proliferate everywhere.
The emancipation of women was her ideal of struggle. Without denying the biological differences, she was able to denounce a whole system of oppression that worked – and still persists – from levels such as the home and that can extend to entire nations where one sex is established and dominated by another.
Her main ideology was based on equal opportunities for both men and women and on the true emancipation of all, both at work and in society.
Simone disappeared physically in 1986, but her intense work of ideological activism and broad literary exercise remain imperishable as a sure guide to the struggle for full equality. This is what her work testifies to.