CUBA WINS                   Spanish Translation

90 Miles from the United States Border, Communism is on America's Doorstep

      Time to Free Cuba and Rid our Hemisphere of Communism

                                                                                                                 

Daily Reports From Cuba   

October 27, 2021

Cuban Culture - Cars

The old cars, which were imported from the U.S. before the revolution, are kept mobile as long as possible. Most of these cars do not have the original American engines as spare parts for these are hard to get.

The color of the plate indicates who the owner is: blue plates are owned by the government, and terracotta plates are rented to tourists. Black plates are for diplomats and green is owned by the army. Yellow plates are for vehicles that are privately owned, orange plates are for international companies that have invested in Cuba.

October 26, 2021

Cuban Culture - Testimonial literature

Cuba is the birthplace of the literary genre that is called testimonial literature. In 1970 Cuba's literary forum Casa de las Américas recognized testimonial literature as an official literary genre. Miguel Barnet's literary texts were foundational in launching this new genre. Specifically Barnet's 1966 Biografía de un Cimarrón (Biography of a Runaway Slave), where he recorded the oral history of former slave Esteban Montejo, is used to place testimonial literature on the literary platform of Casa de las Américas.

Since Casa de las Américas is a government agency responsible for promoting cultural development, the revolutionary government supports this literary addition and finds it aligned with the spirit of the revolution. In this way, testimonial literature serves the revolutionary ideology in providing a voice for the people, specifically a group of people who were underrepresented and formerly oppressed prior to the Cuban Revolution. For the purpose it serves, this literary genre then gets accredited beyond Cuba and becomes a representative genre in other revolutionary countries, where empowering the majority of its people is important.

According to the author of testimonial texts, a testimony is significant because it uses a direct source: A person's account of current aspects in Latin American reality. Testimonial literature is then defined within the boundaries of autobiographical accounts, documentary narratives, eyewitness reports, and oral histories that are later transcribed into a literary format.

Years after the 1950s and 1960s, a time of political and social unrest in Cuba, testimonial literature acknowledged personal accounts of historical figures such as that of Ernesto Che Guevara and other rebel leaders. Testimonial literature also acknowledged the diaries and letters of ordinary people, such as Olga Alonso, Daura Olema, Mercedes Santos, Mirta Muñiz, and Sandra Gonzalez, women that participated in the literacy campaign and other voluntary programs after the triumph of the Revolution.

In 1997 Daisy Rubiera Castillo's testimonial biography of her mother, Maria de los Reyes Castillo Bueno, Reyita: The Life of a Black Cuban Woman in the Twentieth Century, was a finalist in Casa de las Américas' literary competition. Described as the first Cuban testimonial narrative that used gender as an analytical tool, it constitutes the closest perspective with direct knowledge of the experience we have of Black Cuban women's lives since the period of slavery.

Another example of testimonial literature is Juan Francisco Manzano's (1797–1853) Autobiography of a Slave, which is the only known autobiography written by a slave in Cuba. Though self written many years prior to the identification of testimonial literature, Manzano's personal account of his life as a house slave is worthy of mention, as it fits perfectly into the criteria of this genre, providing a voice for the voiceless.

October 25, 2021

Cuban Culture - Literature

Cuban literature began to develop its own style in the early 19th century. The major works published in Cuba during that time dealt with issues of colonialism, slavery and the mixing of races in a creole society. Notable writers of this genre include Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda, and Cirilo Villaverde, whose novel Cecilia Valdés was a landmark. Following the abolition of slavery in 1886, the focus of Cuban literature shifted to themes of independence and freedom as exemplified by José Martí, who led the modernista movement in Latin American literature. The poet Nicolás Guillén's famous Motivos del son focused on the interplay between races. Others like Dulce María Loynaz, José Lezama Lima and Alejo Carpentier dealt with more personal or universal issues. And a few more, such as Reinaldo Arenas and Guillermo Cabrera Infante, earned international recognition in the post-revolutionary era.

October 24, 2021

Cuban Culture - Women and dance

A dance style recently emerged, which was involved fast and suggestive shaking of the women's lower torso section, simulating sexual activity. With this type of dance, the woman's body is seen as more "solo", with moves such as the despelote (all-over-the-place) and tembleque (shake-shudder) and the subasta de la cintura (waist auction). This idea has offended other women, who see this kind of "el perro" sex, or "doggy style", as degrading, forcing them to live up to expectations of pleasing their male partners

Fairley says people in Cuba used to dance by facing their partners, and that nowadays it is often a "back to front" dance. She states that the way women dances with reggaeton can be compared with sex position and pornography, and claims that Cuba has "open and healthy attitudes toward sexuality".

October 23, 2021

Cuban Culture - Women

The Castro government claims to have improved women's rights since the revolution, and today, most women work outside of the home. They are assisted by things such as childcare facilities, which are common in Cuba. In 1974, the Family Code was passed, giving men and women equal rights and responsibilities for housework, childrearing and education. However, despite government policy, and as with much of Latin America, machismo is common, and stereotypes of women continue to exist.

In the Special Period of Cuba, the time after the Soviet Union collapsed and was no longer able to support Cuba financially, leading the small communist nation to seek more tourism. As tourism increased, there followed an increase in prostitution.

October 22, 2021

Cuban Culture - Domestic Violence

The main constituent for domestic violence is more of a socio-economic factor. Contributors to this are saying that "the US Embargo Act"  is a main constituent to this because of a lack of medicines and promotes hardships in the home which could lead to domestic violence. It has been said in many sources that the economic conditions in Cuba affect the relationship within the marriages. However, studies show that "among the key causes of family violence in Cuba is the continued existence of a patriarchal family law." On the positive side, "the FCW demonstrate that there is a low incidence of domestic violence in Cuba."

October 21, 2021

Cuban Culture - Homeless

There is not an overwhelming consensus of homelessness in Cuba, young females and males are lured into prostitution, however the bigger problem is with the young children begging from tourists. "In 2000 research on street children was conducted. There were around 40 in the tourist sections of Havana, and about 20 street children in other areas of the city."  This is due to the lack of success with the welfare system. The 3 major concerns with these individuals are begging, working, and sexual activity among these individuals. This is not the prime concern, like prostitution, the prevalent concern is trying to get these children educated to where this is not an issue.

October 20, 2021

Cuban Culture - Protection of Minors and Adoption

Pre-Revolutionary attempts for children shelters, protection houses, and places to keep children off the street were clearly expressed by Skaine: As of the 1600s when the "House of the Abandoned" was founded, however was soon neglected, and in 1705 a new management took over the house and named it "Foundling House" though this too was unsuccessful. The "House of Charity" was founded before the revolution, nevertheless, also took its place in the shadows of success because protection of the children and the conditions in which they lived were not guaranteed. In 1959, the Ministry of Social Welfare was created and the houses were not part of the state. Now it was the state that had to provide for the minors. In 1960 the Government assigned the Federation of Cuban Women (FCW) to take charge of these houses, and set them up accordingly; ages 0–3 (homes with cradles), ages 3–6 (pre-scholastic farms), ages 6–12 (scholastic farms), ages 12–18 (youthful farms). This was then refined with The Family Code of 1975 (giving certain rights/obligations to parents), the Code of the Childhood and the Youth, approved in 1978, and the Decree Law 76 of January 1984 (which created a national network of centers that took care of minors without shelter). This new law centered on children up to the age of 5 with daycare, helped with homes for minors ages 6–17, and also helped children who were in school past the age of 17. This gave rise for adoption. The Family Code of 1975 made adoption legal for the protection of minors who were without families. "There were a few stipulations with this, i.e. the adopters had to be 25 years or older, economically stable, morally sound, and be able to conduct their selves as sound parents." Complete adoption is most prominent in Cuba. Complete adoption consists of severing all ties with the adoptees biological parents and that in the adopted family and the child has all the same rights as an actual 'biological' child of that family. Legally adopted children are looked upon as biological children.

October 19, 2021

Cuban Culture - One-Parent Families

"The state does not give any special aid to one parent families; however, it gives special needs to the children of single parent families. The Cuban government supports women being economically independent, though, dislikes the results of higher divorce rates, more underage impregnated teens, and female-headed households.". With the Family Code of 1975, which aimed at strengthening the standard (two-parent nuclear family), was not the case. Remarriage and re-coupling was common, so divorce rates reflected a minority of Cuba's population as divorce. "As of 1992, couples under the ages of 20 were likely to get divorced," as were couples in urban areas. It is estimated that around "200,000 single parents are present in Cuba." As a matter of fact, observations in the Cuban community in "1992 shows that 15-20% of households with children are headed by women alone."

October 18, 2021

Cuban Culture - Abortion

Abortion in Cuba is somewhat liberal, even though there is a Catholic influence. Cuba moved away from the Catholic Church, abortion was no longer illegal and no longer had negative social or religious consequences for women. The Church has little to no impact on the way women think about abortion. The use of contraceptives, birth control, and abortions seem to keep family sizes somewhat small and "modern" in comparison to other Latin American countries. This in turn makes the Cuban more of a cohesive unit. What is meant by "cohesive" is that families with less children tend to give more attention to the fewer children they actually have. In turn, these families with fewer children get to spend more time with them, feed them better, and be able to educate them better.

October 17, 2021

Cuban Culture - Divorce

Divorce rates have been a growing fight in Cuba. When the revolution of 1959 occurred, divorce rates were starting to be observed for the first time. Comparing this information throughout different time periods in Cuban life, in "1960 it was 1 divorce per 1000 people, 3 per 1000 people in the 1980's, 3.5 per 1000 people in 1990, 4.1 per 1000 people in 1991, 5.1 per 1000 people in 1992.". This contributed to the fact Cubans moving away from the Catholic Church and therefore divorce was no longer a social stigma as it had been in the past. Also, when the economy started picking up and in 1998, the divorce rate returned to the rate in "1990 of 3.5 per 1000 people, and as of 2002 3.54 per 1000 people.".  As you can see in 1991 and 1992 the divorce rate skyrocketed to a point of collapse, in an almost instantaneous result of the secession of the USSR communist Russia no longer in power in Cuba. "The import/export dropped about 80%," petroleum that was received by Russia ceased, and this did not rebuild (economically) until 2000, when agricultural growth started to pick up. However, Cuba hit rock bottom in 1994, only two years after the succession of the USSR. This was during the Special Period in Cuba which created additional strain on marriages and split families apart for economic reasons.

October 16, 2021

Cuban Culture -  Marriage

Marriage rates in Cuba, traditionally, have been significantly stagnant. In the "1980's and the early 1990's marriage rates were pretty high, 15.1 % and 17.1% marriages per every 1000 inhabitants.".  Women [university] educated tended to get married at an older age, and have fewer children; compared to "publicly schooled" educated women. Informal relations between a married man and an unmarried woman has been evaluated as such; "28% were women under 30 while the percentage of married women in that time was 23% (as of the late 1980's)." "Women under the age of 20 were 21% opposed to the 7% of women married at that age (still in the same time period)."  Yet, this is seen as a typical circumstance in Cuba at that time. Legal marriages vs. illegal marriages are 35% vs. 28%. On average in the 1980s most people got married around 19 to 20 years old, still, with a more developed educational system women are becoming more independent, studying, and working better jobs, that since "1994 most people are now getting married around the ages of 30-35.".

October 15, 2021

Cuban Culture - Cuban Family Life

The Revolution of 1959 sparked the turning point in Cuban family life by promoting women's equality. New laws and policies resulted in women being educated, employed, and also increased their civil/human rights. Cuban revolutionary thought promoted class equality rather than gender equality, but women still benefitted indirectly from social changes. Because Cubans, like many Latin Americans, tend to live together as a nuclear family, grandparents often provide childcare for women in the household who work outside the home, or attend school. The Maternity Law actually 'created' the working woman in Cuba [state when this law was passed, and what it says]. "Whereas in 1955, 13 percent of the workforce was women, by 1989, the number had risen to 38.7 percent of the workforce in Cuba.".  In addition, The Family Code of 1975, especially Article 26 of the code, called for women and men to take equal responsibility for domestic labor and childcare.  Marriages, divorce, children's rights, adoption, and marital property were addressed in this new law, as were the division of family responsibilities, equal rights for marriage partners, and the sharing of household tasks. However, there were still 'personal' obligations women had to assume with marriage, such as 'maternal rights,' which were a norm in Cuban traditional society. Despite progressive measures imposed by law, some traditions stayed remained intact, and new norms for the Cuban family took time to develop.

October 14, 2021

Cuban Culture - Housing

Some Cubans own the homes they live in. Citizens are permitted to swap apartments if they find another willing person. (known as permuta) They also live in palm huts and apartment. The State dominates the Housing market. People are second. 

October 13, 2021

Cuban Culture - Language and Manners

As a former colony of Spain, Spanish is spoken in Cuba. After the Cuban Revolution, the term "compañero/compañera", meaning comrade, came to gradually replace the traditional "señor/señora" as the universal polite title of address for strangers. A significant number of Afro-Cubans as well as the biracial Cubans speak Haitian Creole. Haitian Creole is the second most spoken language as well as a recognized one in Cuba with approximately 300,000 speakers. That is about 4% of the population. Haiti was a French colony, and the final years of the 1791–1804 Haitian Revolution brought a wave of French settlers fleeing with their Haitian slaves to Cuba.

Many words from Cuban Amerindian languages have entered common usage in both Spanish and English, such as the Taíno words canoa, tobacco and huracán. Some of the place names are Indian, such as Guanabacoa, and Guanajay.

When speaking to the elderly, or to strangers, Cubans speak more formally as a sign of respect. They shake hands upon greeting someone and farewelling them. Men often exchange friendly hugs (abrazos) and it is also common for both men and women to greet friends and family with a hug and a kiss on the cheek. Informalities like addressing a stranger with 'mi corazón' (my heart), 'mi vida' (my life), or 'cariño' (dear) are common.

October 12, 2021

Cuban Culture - Religion

Cuba's policy on religion has changed much since 1959, when religious Cubans were persecuted and could be denied jobs or an education by the government.

In the 1970s, the relationship between the government and religious institutions (especially the Roman Catholic Church) began to improve. By 1976, the state granted Cuban citizens religious freedom, with some restrictions. In 1992, the constitution was amended to allow total religious freedom. About 25% of Cubans today are Catholic. Some Catholic traditions were lost, but the church has imported the Mexican Christmas play (pastorela) trying to reconnect Cubans to Christianity. Cuba is a primarily Christian country.

Another large religion in Cuba is Santería. Santería is a blend of Catholicism and traditional Yoruba religions. When African slaves first arrived in Cuba during the 16th century, they were taught a few simple prayers and were baptised by the Spanish. The slaves combined this limited form of Catholicism with their traditional religions to create Santería, which survives to this day. During colonial times and into the early Republic, many Cubans suffered from intense ethnocentrism and confused Afro-Cuban religion with black magic and witchcraft. This caused them to associate practitioners of Santería and other Afro-Cuban cultures with criminals and the underworld, and to discriminate against practitioners without understanding the nature of their religion. Because most practitioners of Santería in those years were of African heritage, racist attitudes emerged around the religion, and many whites in Cuba considered it to be subversive and threatening. Those who practiced Santería often resorted to secrecy as a way to avoid persecution. Fernando Ortiz, Lydia Cabrera, and Rómulo Lachatañeré are considered the founders of Afro-Cuban studies in Cuba and were the first to give scholarly attention to Santería as an important religion in Cuba.

October 11, 2021

Cuban Culture - Cuisine

A ration book called a libreta is supposed to guarantee a range of products from shops, however, there are still massive shortages and even rations are not guaranteed to be delivered timely or at all.

The Soviet Union's collapse in 1991 ended grain imports from that country, which were used to feed cattle and chickens. In 1991, beef, chicken, milk and eggs became scarce.

A lack of fuel for agricultural machinery meant that crops had to be harvested manually (by people), drastically decreasing Cuba's food production capabilities. These problems have improved a little in recent years, but shortages are still common. To supplement their rations, Cubans resort to non-rationed food stores (where prices are nevertheless several times those of the libreta), or to the black market.

Traditional Cuban food is, as most cultural aspects of this country, a syncretism of Spanish, African and Caribbean cuisines, with a small but noteworthy Chinese influence. The most popular foods are black beans, rice, and meat.

One example of traditional Cuban cuisine, or criollo as it is called, is moros y cristianos, "Moors and Christians", rice with black beans. Criollo uses many different seasonings, with some of the most common being onion and garlic. Cassava, rice, beans, eggs, tomatoes, lettuce, chicken, beef and pork are all common ingredients.

Coffee is of high quality and grown mainly for export, the common coffee drink in Cuba is imported from Africa.

October 10, 2021

Cuban Culture - Sports

Fidel Castro's belief in socialism and the benefits of sports (he loves and has played baseball) has resulted in Cuba's relative international success for a population of 11 million in sporting events such as the Olympic Games. Unlike in most of Latin America, but like many nations of the Caribbean and some of Central America, football (soccer) is not a major game in Cuba, but is gaining popularity. Baseball is the most popular sport in Cuba. Introduced by American dockworkers in Havana in the 19th century, the gay of home game has played a role in Cuban independence from Spain. Banned in 1895 by the Spanish, secret games funded José Martí's revolt. Cuban peloteros rank highly internationally and some have migrated to Major League Baseball in the United States. The Cuba national baseball team finished second in the first World Baseball Classic against the Japanese national team. Boxing is also rather popular. They also enjoy basketball, track and field, volleyball, and rugby union.

Every year, Cuba holds the School Sports Games, a competition and is like the best for school students. The best athletes from age 11 to 16 are invited to be tested for the Schools for Sports Initiation (Spanish acronym: EIDE). EIDE students attend regular classes, receive advanced coaching and take part in higher level competitions. The top graduates from the school enter one of several Schools of Higher Athletic Performance (Spanish acronym: ESPA).

October 9, 2021

Cuban Culture - Music

The music of Cuba, including the instruments and the dances, is mostly of European and African origin. Most forms of the present day are creolized fusions and mixtures of these two great sources. Almost nothing remains of the original Indian traditions.

Fernando Ortíz, the first great Cuban folklorist, described Cuba's musical innovations they really like music as arising from the interplay ('transculturation') between African slaves settled on large sugar plantation and Spanish or Canary Islanders who grew tobacco on small farms. The African slaves and their descendants reconstructed large numbers of percussive instruments and corresponding rhythms. The great instrumental contribution of the Spanish was their guitar, but even more important was the tradition of European musical notation and techniques of musical composition.

African beliefs and practices certainly influenced Cuba's music. Polyrhythmic percussion is an inherent part of African life & music, as melody is part of European music. Also, in African tradition, percussion is always joined to song and dance, and to a particular social setting. It is not simply entertainment added to life, it is life. The result of the meeting of European and African cultures is that most Cuban popular music is creolized. This creolization of Cuban life has been happening for a long time, and by the 20th century, elements of African belief, music and dance were well integrated into popular and folk forms.

The roots of most Afro-Cuban musical forms lie in the cabildos, self-organized social clubs for the African slaves, separate cabildos for separate cultures. The cabildos were formed mainly from four groups: the Yoruba (the Lucumi in Cuba); the Congolese (Palo in Cuba); Dahomey (the Fon or Arará). Other cultures were undoubtedly present, but in smaller numbers, and they did not leave such a distinctive presence. At the same time, African religions were transmitted from generation to generation throughout Cuba, Haiti, other islands and Brazil. These religions, which had a similar but not identical structure, were known as Lucumi or Regla de Ocha if they derived from the Yoruba, Palo from Central Africa, Vodú from Haiti, and so on. The term Santería was first introduced to account for the way African spirits were joined to Catholic saints, especially by people who were both baptized and initiated, and so were genuinely members of both groups. By the 20th century, elements of Santería music had appeared in popular and folk forms.

One of the main rhythmic fusions in Cuban music is the son. Other typical Cuban forms are the habanera, the guaracha, the danzón, the rumba, the bolero, the chachachá, the mambo, the cha-cha-cha, the punto, and many variations on these themes. Cuban music has been immensely popular and influential in other countries. It was the original basis of salsa and contributed not only to the development of jazz, but also to Argentinian tango, Ghanaian high-life, West African Afrobeat, and Spanish nuevo flamenco. Within modern Cuba, there are also popular musicians working in the rock and reggaeton idioms.

Cuban hip-hop is one of the latest genres of music to be embraced not only by the country's youth but also, more reluctantly, by the government. Initially, hip-hop was shunned by the authorities, because of its affiliation to America and capitalism. As more Cuban youth put their own energy and style into the music, Cuban hip-hop eventually became more acceptable. "The Cuban government now sees rap music – long considered the music of American imperialism – as a road map to the hearts and minds of the young generation" is one opinion.

October 8, 2021

Cuban Foods

In his book, “The Joy of Eating: Food and Identity in Contemporary Cuba,” Christian Paponnet-Cantat describes how food is central to the Cuban way of life.

The socio-cultural events that arose due to the power and identity struggles have, to a large extent, shaped the Cuban cuisine as well.

It is important not just to know their recipes but also to understand its food history to better understand Cuban food.  

Cuban food is influenced by its history. The Spanish colonization, the arrival of African slaves, and the neighboring Caribbean countries have shaped the Cuban cuisine over the years. Arroz con pollo, Ropa vieja, and Picadillo are some of the famous traditional dishes of Cuba. 

The Spanish colonization and the African slaves brought in their spices and techniques, which soon began to be incorporated in the Cuban cuisine.

A little bit of Chinese influence is also seen in Cuban cooking in Havana, Cuba

Even for this relatively small country with a single climate, Cuba’s culinary variety is rich and abundant.

The country uses fresh ingredients for cooking, and primary among them is rice and beans.

There are a lot of Cuban dishes whose base is made of these two staples.

In the past, and some would say even today, Cuba has witnessed many socio-political changes that directly impacted its food. 

The rationing system and state-run socialistic eateries have only made Cubans more creative with their cuisine.

For instance, in the eastern part of Cuba, the use of honey, chocolate, and annatto seeds are heavily borrowed from the neighboring Caribbean countries and the African eating habits.

Cuban food mostly uses fresh ingredients as they grow in abundance in the tropical climate. Stews, soups, and sandwiches use a lot of these fresh ingredients.

Some of these foods also contain meat that is roasted until it is tender. Spices, too, are quite popular in Cuba. Apart from onions and garlic, other spices such as bay leaves, coriander, cumin, and pepper are also used.

Spanish Influence in Cuban Cuisine

Cuba was the first country in the Caribbean to be colonized and the last to gain its freedom from the Spanish colonization.

Due to this, Cuban food, along with many other Cuban traditions and lifestyle choices, have very deep-rooted ties with Spanish cuisine as more and more Spanish people and their eating habits got merged with that of Cuba.

During the colonial era, parts of Cuba also emerged as important trading ports. Spanish immigrants passed through Havana before they moved onto other cities within Cuba. 

Havana was, in fact, one of the most important trading ports in Cuba. As the Spanish began to immigrate into the country, they brought with them cattle and pigs and their own spices. Due to this, many Cuban dishes today have their origin in Andalucia.

African Influence in Cuban Cuisine

Many interesting food ingredients such as the Guinea chicken, malanga, and plantain came to Cuba when the African slaves were brought into the colony. This led to the introduction of many African influenced Cuban dishes like the fufú, funche, and tostones.

Cubans also adopted the practice of eating rice with other foods, including curries, sauce, and fries.

Rice gradually became a staple and began to be used as a common accompaniment to many other Cuban dishes as a direct influence of the arrival of African slaves to Cuba’s ports. 

Plantains, too, were the result of this same event, and today, these starchy bananas are cooked as a snack and served as a side dish in many Cuban dishes.

October 7, 2021

Revolution Holidays

Of the 10 holidays celebrated in Cuba, one is for Christmas, one id for New Year, one is Good Friday and one is Labor Day. All others are celebrations of the revolution and the victory Castro won over Batista. Can you imagine 6 4th's of July were celebrated in the U.S.? Now, that would be overreach. But the Communist mindset knows nothing but publicizing the marketing of the events that put these authoritarians into power. 

October 6, 2021

Cuba Health System not all it is Cracked up to be

Fidel Castro’s death and the announced resignation of Raul Castro as President of Cuba offer the opportunity to revisit, among other things, the Cuban health system which has been praised by a significant proportion of the global public health community for decades. Recent publications in lay and scientific periodicals still show admiration for a system that is described as highly structured, prevention-oriented, information-rich, innovative and efficient (Campion and Morrissey 2013Lamrani 2014Fuente 2017Hamlin, 2016). The authors of these pieces emphasize the health outcomes it has attained and the service it offers to developing countries through its international missions.

Building on the commentary on infant mortality and longevity in Cuba published in this issue of Health Policy and Planning, I would like to discuss three statements:

  1. Enthusiasm around the Cuban health system often stems from an exclusive attention to one indicator, infant mortality rate (IMR), the value of which has been manipulated by a state seeking political legitimacy.

  2. The overall performance of the Cuban health system, measured by progress in health conditions, has been overrated.

  3. Some of the health achievements in Cuba have been attained at the expense of basic rights.

As stated by the authors of the commentary under discussion, the economist Roberto Gonzalez recently questioned the validity of IMR in Cuba, which stands at 4.1 per 1000 live births, lower than the average for high-income countries (5.0) (González 2015The World Bank 2018). The problem with this figure is that late foetal deaths (LFDs) (deaths occurring after 28 completed weeks of gestation and over) appear to be abnormally high in Cuba compared with other countries, while early neonatal deaths (ENDs) (deaths occurring in the first week of life) appear to be abnormally low. According to Gonzalez, Cuban health authorities may be misclassifying ENDs as LFDs. If corrected, Cuba’s IMR could be at least twice as high as the IMR presently reported by the Cuban Ministry of Health, still lower than that of most middle-income countries, but not lower than that of high-income countries and, very probably, higher than that of Chile (7.0) and Costa Rica (8.0). These amended figures may be considered more than acceptable but they could hardly provide the political legitimacy that an IMR comparable to that of any rich country has afforded the Cuban Revolution.

Even if we consider the corrected IMR figures of Cuba as a success, they do not reflect the overall performance of its health system. It takes more than a single indicator to reach an objective assessment. If we take into consideration a broader set of conventional health status indicators, we could conclude that the performance of this system has been overrated. According to a report on maternal mortality produced by WHO, UNICEF, the United Nations Population Fund, the World Bank and the United Nations Population Division, maternal mortality ratio in Cuba is 39 per 100 000 live births, compared with only 27 in Barbados, 28 in Belize, 22 in Chile, 25 in Costa Rica, 27 in Grenada and 15 in Uruguay (WHO, UNICEF, UNDP, World Bank, United Nationals Population Division 2015). This in spite of the fact that Cuba reports the highest physician density (7.5 per 1000 population) of all the Latin American and the Caribbean region (Central Intelligence Agency 2017). These poor results could be partly explained by the fact that half (around 40 000) of all Cuban physicians are currently working in international missions, many of which are gynaecologists (Agence France Press 2018). The Global Burden of Disease data also show a deceiving performance of the Cuban health system in other domains related to adult health, especially lung cancer and depressive disorders (Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation 2018).

Finally, there is the problem of improving health through the use of mechanisms that violate basic rights. In addition to the forceful internment of women with high-risk pregnancies in state clinics and the performance of abortions without the clear consent of the mother discussed by the authors of ‘Cuba infant mortality and longevity: health care or repression’, we could mention the compulsory seclusion in the late 1980s of individuals living with HIV in sanitariums guarded by military personnel to control the HIV/AIDS epidemic (McNeil 2018). The goal was accomplished: Cuba has one of the lowest HIV adult prevalence rate worldwide (UNAIDS 2018). However, it is also the single place in the world where HIV detection tests are obligatory and where, until recently, people living with HIV were confined.

To this we should add the violation of patient privacy for ‘security’ purposes. In a recent set of tweets, the Cuban journalist and activist Yoani Sánchez discusses a list of rights that have been constantly denied by the Castro regime. One of these rights is the

right to patient privacy and the prohibition to government officials to secretly record and publish conversations between physicians and patients around opposition leaders and activists that take place in Cuban hospitals and clinics (Aguilar-Camín 2018).

There is now general consensus that a good health system should improve health conditions, be responsive and guarantee respect for human rights, provide financial protection, and be transparent and accountable (Daniels et al. 2000Murray and Frenk 2000Roberts et al. 2004). If we agree with this, we can conclude that the Cuban health system is not performing as well as many believe: major progress in health status is limited to a few conditions, it lacks transparency and accountability, and its health policies have been implemented with little concern for certain basic rights. In sum, it is hardly a model to follow.

October 5, 2021

Cuba Leaders Have No intention of Freeing its People

(Washington, DC) – The Cuban government is committing systematic human rights abuses against independent artists and journalists, Human Rights Watch said today as it released a video on the abuses.

In recent months, Cuban authorities have jailed and prosecuted several artists and journalists who are critical of the government. Police and intelligence officers have routinely appeared at the homes of other artists and journalists, ordering them to stay there, often for days and even weeks. The authorities have also imposed temporary targeted restrictions on people’s ability to access cellphone data.

“Singing a song that the government does not like, or reporting the news independently, is enough to get you detained in Cuba,” said José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch. “These abuses are not isolated incidents, but rather appear to be part of a plan to selectively silence critical voices.”

Between February and June 2021, Human Rights Watch interviewed by telephone 29 journalists and artists who were victims of abuse and harassment by Cuban authorities in recent months. In many cases, Human Rights Watch conducted multiple interviews with people who were subjected to new abuses. Human Rights Watch also reviewed court decisions, publications by local human rights groups, and media reports, and corroborated videos posted on social media.

Most of the artists and journalists targeted belong to the “San Isidro Movement,” a coalition of singers, painters and other artists, and “27N,” a group of artists and journalists who gathered after a landmark protest against censorship and repression in Havana on November 27, 2020. Victims also include people who have performed in, or even simply played or promoted “Motherland and Life,” a song by Cuban artists in Havana and Miami that repurposes the Cuban government’s old slogan “Motherland or Death” (Patria o muerte), and criticizes repression in the country.

Officials involved in the abuses include members of the intelligence services, known in Cuba as “state security,” and the national police, based on accounts by witnesses and victims, as well as photos and videos reviewed by Human Rights Watch. Intelligence officers normally wear civilian clothing, but at times they identify themselves to detainees verbally or show their credentials. Many government critics said that they are often detained and under surveillance by the same people, leading them to conclude that their harassers are intelligence officers.

Many of the artists and journalists have also been smeared with false accusations on national television. Anchors on the main Cuban news program – which belongs to a state-owned channel and is featured at prime time simultaneously on most TV channels in Cuba – have in recent months falsely accused some of the artists and journalists of “conspiring” against Cuba and being involved in “delinquency.”

The consistent and repeated patterns in the cases Human Rights Watch documented have involved actions by police and intelligence officers at least since the November 27 protest, often against the same victims. The patterns of harassment strongly suggest a plan by Cuban authorities to selectively repress independent artists and journalists, Human Rights Watch said. The targeted restrictions on critics’ cellphone data, as well as the repeated instances of accusations against many of them on public television, are further evidence of the systematic nature of these violations.

The restrictions on movement have been imposed on multiple journalists and artists on the same days, preventing them from participating in demonstrations or meetings. Barring people from leaving their homes for a significant period, barring them from socializing with others, and threatening them with imprisonment if they don’t comply amounts to arbitrary deprivations of liberty comparable with de facto house arrest, Human Rights Watch said.

Cuban authorities have also imposed targeted and temporary restrictions on cellphone data and phone services to members of the “San Isidro” and “27N” groups, often coinciding with the restrictions on movement. When they face such restrictions, some government critics borrow phones from friends and relatives who are not critical of the government and whose service has not been interrupted, they told Human Rights Watch.

Iliana Hernández, a reporter for the independent news outlet Ciber Cuba, has faced such restrictions persistently since April 23. Five officers, including three in civilian clothes, forced her into a police car that day as she headed for a bus stop with some friends. She shouted “down with the dictatorship! Down with communism! Motherland and life!” The officers took her to a police station, where an officer said she was being accused of “contempt” for “offending the figure of President Miguel Díaz-Canel,” apparently because of what she shouted.

The officer told her she would be held as a “precautionary measure,” and forbidden to leave her home until she stands trial. Hernández was never taken before a prosecutor or judge, shown a document indicating she is legally subjected to such a measure, or given a chance to challenge it, she and her lawyer told Human Rights Watch. She has never been formally notified of the alleged “contempt” investigation.

Since that day, several officers have surveilled her home in shifts, 24 hours a day. Normally, five of them are surveilling at any time. Other people who live with her have been allowed to leave the house, but officers have attempted to arrest her every time she tries to leave. Her cellphone data and her home internet have not worked since the beginning of her detention, she said.

In most other cases documented, critics facing such restrictions were never notified, even verbally, that these were connected to an alleged criminal investigation.

Many journalists and artists were arbitrarily detained, often for attempting to leave their homes when they faced restrictions on movement. Police and intelligence officers arrested some artists and journalists repeatedly. In the vast majority of cases, officers did not show an arrest warrant or provide detainees with a reason for their arrest. Most were released after a few hours. In some cases, the officers drove the detainees to unpopulated areas where they held them for hours, or simply kept them in the police car, instead of taking them to a police station, then released them.

Some have also faced longer term arbitrary detention. Maykel Castillo, who had experienced multiple short-term arbitrary detentions and is one of the singers in “Motherland and Life,” was arrested at his home on May 18. His whereabouts were unknown to his family until May 31, when Cuban authorities informed them that he was being held in the Pinar del Río prison. The family was notified a few days after the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances had urged the Cuban government to reveal Castillo’s place of detention.

A court document Human Rights Watch reviewed indicates that he is being investigated on charges of “contempt,” “resistance,” and “assault.” An official Cuban news outlet reported that the charges are connected to an April 4 peaceful protest in Havana, during which a police officer tried to arrest Castillo and a group of local residents defended him, preventing the detention.

Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, a leading figure in the San Isidro movement and also a singer of “Motherland and Life,” has been routinely arrested or had his movements restricted in recent months. On April 25, he began a hunger strike demanding that the authorities stop harassing him and that they return some paintings they had confiscated during a search of his house on April 17.

On May 2, officers went to his house, handcuffed him, and took him to a hospital, he said. The next day, Alcántara decided to end his strike, fearing that they would force him to eat. He said he remained in detention while hospitalized, in a five square meter room with three security officers always in the room with him. He was not allowed to call anyone and was only allowed four five-minute visits by family members, he said. After threatening to jail him, officers released him, and he left the hospital on May 30. “They told me that if I didn’t behave properly, they could do whatever they wanted with me,” Alcántara said.

October 4, 2021

Cuba makes mockery of Free Speech

(Washington, DC) – A new decree and accompanying legislation announced by the Cuban government severely restricts freedom of expression online and threatens users’ privacy, Human Rights Watch said today. Governments in Latin America, as well as the European Union and the United States, should urgently expose this attack on free speech and press Cuba to repeal it.

On August 17, 2021, the government made public Decree-Law 35 and several accompanying norms regulating the use of telecommunications, including the internet and radio, and the government’s response to “cybersecurity incidents.” The decree, which has the stated purpose of “defending” the Cuban revolution, requires telecommunications providers to interrupt, suspend, or terminate their services when a user publishes information that is “fake” or affects “public morality” and the “respect of public order.”

“The internet has created a rights revolution in Cuba, allowing people to communicate, report on abuses, and organize protests in ways that were virtually impossible,” said Juan Pappier, senior Americas researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Leaders in Latin America, the European Union, and the United States should not stay silent as the Cuban government restricts access to this critical tool for Cubans to exercise their rights.”

Even before issuing these new regulations, the Cuban government had already established abusive restrictions on communications and free speech online.

Under the new Decree-Law 35, telecommunications users have a duty to prevent the spreading of “fake news or reports” and are forbidden from using the services in ways that affect the “collective security,” “general well-being,” “public morality,” or “respect of public order.”

Telecommunications providers, including of internet and phone services and “online applications,” are required to “interrupt,” “suspend,” or “terminate” their services when users allegedly violate these broadly defined duties. Providers may be fined or lose their license if they don’t comply.

Under international human rights law, laws may only limit the rights to free speech and freedom of association when necessary and proportionate to achieve a legitimate goal, such as the protection of national security or the rights of others. Decree-Law 35 includes multiple overbroad provisions that are inconsistent with international human rights law and could be easily used to violate rights on a large scale as well as to target critics, Human Rights Watch said.

Decree-Law 35 also requires telecommunications providers to provide a broad range of information and services to government authorities. Under the decree, providers should grant public security institutions the “technical facilities and services they require” and give the Communications Ministry the “information that [the ministry] determines.” These vague obligations may open the door to undue infringements on the right to privacy, Human Rights Watch said.

Additionally, a “Cybersecurity” resolution that accompanies Decree/Law 35 contains dangerous provisions that label protected speech “incidents of cybersecurity.” Cybersecurity typically refers to protecting the availability, confidentiality, and integrity of information and its underlying infrastructure from attack. But the new Cuban legislation instead treats online content as a potential threat to security, including “spreading fake news,” “slander that impacts the prestige of the country,” “inciting protests,” “promoting social indiscipline,” and undermining someone’s fame or self-esteem.”  

Under the resolution, the authorities, apparently from the Communications, Interior, and Armed Forces ministries, are required to “prevent,” “detect,” “investigate,” and “mitigate” cybersecurity incidents, including by adopting measures for their “eradication.” Officials are required to prioritize responding to incidents considered of “high” or “very high” danger, such as “spreading fake news” or “promoting social indiscipline.”

The Cuban legislation is not clear on how so-called “cybersecurity incidents” will be “detected” and “eradicated.” But preventing and eradicating certain types of content would require pervasive monitoring and filters, which inevitably lead to overbroad censorship and surveillance, Human Rights Watch said.

Human Rights Watch has documented how countries around the world have approved similarly abusive “cybercrime” and “cybersecurity” legislation that unduly restrict rights and are being used to persecute journalists, human rights defenders, technologists, opposition politicians, and artists.

Among them, Russia introduced, in March 2020, Article 207.1 into the criminal code for “public dissemination of knowingly false information in circumstances threatening the life and safety of citizens,” punishable with up to three years of liberty restriction. In October 2020, Nicaragua’s Congress adopted a cybercrime law that criminalizes “publication” or “dissemination” of “false” or “distorted” information on the internet that is “likely to spread anxiety, anguish or fear.” Saudi Arabia’s 2007 Anti-Cybercrime law criminalizes “producing something that harms public order, religious values, public morals, the sanctity of private life, or authoring, sending, or storing it via an information network.”

Internet is very expensive, making its cost prohibitive for many Cubans. Many telecommunication services are exclusively offered by the state-owned Telecommunications Company of Cuba S.A. (ETECSA) and are controlled by the Cuban government, which exercises its ability and legal mandate to restrict connectivity in ways that are inconsistent with international human rights norms.

The government has repeatedly imposed targeted and arbitrary restrictions on the internet against critics and dissidents, including as part of its ongoing systematic abuses against independent artists and journalistsSeveral organizations have also reported countrywide internet outages, followed by restrictions on social media and messaging platforms, during the July 2021 protests that were met with beatings and hundreds of arbitrary detentions.

In July 2019, Decree-Law 370/2018 on the “informatization of society” took effect, prohibiting dissemination of information “contrary to the social interest, morals, good manners and integrity of people.” The authorities have used the law to interrogate and fine journalists and critics and confiscate their working materials.

“The Cuban government presents this legislation as a measure to strengthen cybersecurity in the face of threats, but it is essentially trying to secure itself from criticism and dissent,” Pappier said.

October 3, 2021

United States to become Cuba?

Sen. John Kennedy reacted to Biden's poor poll numbers and push for a $3.5 trillion spending bill Thursday on "Fox News Primetime."

SEN. KENNEDY: Well, at the rate they are going, it doesn’t matter which one of them is front and center. I just listed some of the plates they have broken. They are about to break another huge plate with this new Reconciliation bill. I call it the make America — turn America into Cuba bill. I think the best example of neo-socialism that I can think of and once the American people realize that the Vice President and the President want to convince them that it is in America’s interest to have $4 trillion dollars in new spending, $2 trillion in new taxes, and $2 trillion in new debt, and tax, spend and regulate America into neo socialism, I think nothing is going to help them in 2022.

October 2, 2021

Cubans Across Southern Border

We have knowledge that Cubans are taking the extra trip to come across the Southern border. For obvious reasons, we don't have more information to share with you than that. But, feel proud of the people who want freedom. Cuban endurance and strength will find a way. 

October 1, 2021

Everyone Welcome, but Cubans

To say there is bias against the Cuban people by key segments of the United States Government, has never been more apparent. Many weeks ago, Cubans in boats attempted to cross into the U.S. and were turned back Yet, migrants at the border were brought in, and allowed to stay until they were logged in and then they were allowed to leave and come back for a Court date. Fat chance they will ever show up for their Court date. 

Now we have tens of thousands of Haitians, basically coming across an open border. Recently pictures of these Haitians in tent cities made the U.S. look like a third world country. Yet, if you come in a boat from Cuba, no such luck. 

These are sick times in our government, where "wokeness" trumps security. But the most trumped people on the face of the earth are our Cuban Brothers and Sisters. We can no longer turn a blind eye to this. If our Government won't act, we have to replace those in power. 

Copyright 2021 Real Second Chance, Inc.

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