Ailynn Torres Santana

Ailynn Torres Santana

Photo: AP.

Pandemonium: apropos the Cuban anti-rights religious program (I)

Help us keep OnCuba alive here Religion is no more the opium of peoples than the market dictating every possibility and meaning of life, or than structural corruption, political despotism, undemocratic impunity. If it it’s about humanity’s opium, the list is long. Explaining the global conservative tide by claiming, without further ado, that “religion is the opium of the people” is politically sterile because it forgets the complexity of our societies and the legitimate place that spiritual worlds and faith―including religious faith―have for people and groups. The process is more complex: we are facing the expansion and taking root of anti-rights neo-conservatism, both religious and secular. Within the religious framework, these neo-conservatisms translate into what analysts call fundamentalist actors. From other approaches, there is talk of reactionaryisms, anti-rights actors or fundamentalism. Although each categorization has its specificities, there is some agreement on some characteristics: the construction of rhetoric of enmity against others (there is an enemy of God, of the church), an absolutist and intolerant agenda against other positions (both religious and secular), a political use of religion, the imposition of its values, behaviors and forms of organization on the whole of society, the promotion of moral panic because of...

Photo: Alain L. Gutiérrez

Economic debate in Cuba: first and second planes (II)

Help us keep OnCuba alive here We present the second part of this dossier that contributes to the open economic debate in Cuba, addressing both foreground issues and some of the least considered. Here, Cuban women economists reflect on the relationship between growth and development, on the need to think about inequalities as part, and not after, of the strategies to confront the crisis, on the regulation of labor rights in the non-state sector of the economy and on gender gaps in the Cuban world of work. Four questions, five voices in counterpoint and complementarity.... They hit on old and new nerves of the Cuban economy and insist that, in order for it to recover, no person can, in effect, be left without protection. https://oncubanews.com/en/opinion/columns/no-filter/economic-debate-in-cuba-first-and-second-planes-i/ The empowerment of small and medium-sized enterprises is an essential step in Cuba and is one of the emphases that, from different fronts, are trying to be made to confront the crisis. At the same time, it poses socio-political challenges. Two of them are: 1) guarantees of labor rights, which currently function as minimum, fragile and unsafe regulations for hired workers; 2) social inclusion and redistribution policies. How could these issues be part of the...

Economic debate in Cuba: first and second planes (I)

Help us keep OnCuba alive here In recent weeks, and in connection with the national economic crisis aggravated by the global health and economic situation, the economic debate has intensified in institutional and non-institutional spaces. The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) and other international organizations have predicted a deep contraction in the world and regional economy. For Cuba, the crisis is already acute and this has been recognized by the country’s leadership, and Cubans are living it. In the topics under debate there has been a first plane: what should be the economic solutions to the crisis, what would they imply, in terms of economic growth, what place can and should the private sector of the economy occupy in the equation of the strategies to be designed and implemented, and what are the sectors that can and should be initially revitalized. Other issues have been less debated: the relationship between growth and development, the consequences of the crisis for inequality, the strategies to face it, labor rights, and the different bases from which different social groups start to face the situation. This dossier contributes to the open economic debate in Cuba, addressing both issues of its...

Photo: Kaloian Santos.

Economic debate in Cuba. Shall we also talk about labor rights in the private sector?

The crisis associated with COVID-19 is linked to other pre-existing crises on global and national scales: economic, political, care, demographic crises. Dependent, marginalized, deformed economies because of internal and/or external reasons, are in worse conditions to face this present and the future. Highly unequal and fragmented societies have additional challenges. Although the virus can nest in all bodies, not all bodies (individual and collective) are in the same conditions to survive its multiple effects. For the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), in economic terms the crisis will be greater than that of 2008: a deep global recession, with more acute consequences for previously impoverished regions and countries. That organization expects the GDP to decrease by at least 1.8 percent in this region. Unemployment will increase by 10 percentage points. Approximately 33 million people will join the poverty groups that were already numerous. ECLAC has forecast an economic contraction of 3.4 percent for Cuba. The number could be higher. The impact is and will be as inevitable as it is acute. There are already notable consequences in the economy’s state sector. In the private sector, too. Up to mid-May, 35 percent of self-employment (SE) licenses...

Photo: Yander Zamora/EFE.

Cuba: (Feminist) requests to political society and civil society in the face of COVID-19

On December 31, 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) got the first coronavirus alert from Wuhan, China. Since then we have witnessed an uncontrolled and growing chain of infections and deaths. Remarkable mistakes have been confirmed in many national political managements of this unprecedented global crisis. Few countries have managed to avoid internal collapses. From an epidemiological point of view, Cuba is among the latter so far. COVID-19 is an epidemiological contingency that brings non-contingent issues to the fore: inequalities, vulnerabilities, impossibilities to manage the uncertainty of the present and the future. The disease is having a worse evolution in men due to factors related to their immune system and prevalence of respiratory diseases. However, international and social organizations have warned that the crisis has specific and more acute effects on women due to social and economic reasons and previous structural inequalities. Governments need to address this fact when designing and implementing measures to deal with the crisis and in the post-crisis. The Cuban government and institutions are deploying huge material and organizational resources to manage this situation. Part of the citizenry also does it, individually and collectively. Every day, new solidarity ventures and joint ways of doing things transcend. The...

Photo: Otmaro Rodríguez.

The pandemic does not discriminate; inequalities do: women cushioning the crisis

With COVID-19, the world is facing two interconnected but not identical realities: it exhibits and sharpens pre-existing inequalities and generates new ones, now based on the dynamics imposed by the coronavirus: this pandemic does not discriminate, inequalities do. The policies for dealing with the crisis are diverse. From the irrationality of the ultra-conservative Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil to the quick and efficient management of South Korea, and the sordid management of Lenín Moreno in Ecuador, which is one of the epicenters of the pandemic in the region. Countries that have implemented coherent and comprehensive measures or social policies that protect the most vulnerable are the least. The clearest panorama is that of oversaturation of public health services and the lack of protection of those who work there, the fragility of labor rights, the extremely high rates of job insecurity, the excessive exercise of military and police force on the streets, the unequal sexual division of care between men and women and families and the State, and even inability in the practical and ethical management of corpses. The other side of the coin is the activation of grassroots solidarity, communities taking over the collective management of life, attempts to politicize the...

Photo: Otmaro Rodríguez.

Taking care, taking care of oneself, that we be taken care of in times of COVID-19

Caregiving. That is the most recurrent word in these days of COVID-19. The whole world is saying the same thing at the same time: take care, cuídate, prendre soin, pass auf dich auf, abbi cura di te, 保重, cuide-se…and so on. My mother repeats to me: take good care of yourself, please; and I return the phrase. I ask my friends on the PC screen: who is caring for the child today, what are you going to do? My elderly neighbor says to me three meters away: take care when you go out and bring me a lettuce if you see any. Another friend who lives far from Cuba wonders who will take care of her mother now that she is no longer here. On social networks: take care of the elderly, the grandmothers. Altogether we remind and request: the health personnel take care of us, let's also take care of them, #StayAtHome. That the borders be closed, that the schools be closed, that the State take care of us, we demand. Taking care, taking care of oneself, that we be taken care of. But who takes care, where and how do we take care. The #StayAtHome in our home...

Photo: Otmaro Rodríguez.

Against gender-based violence in Cuba…. What if we redouble the commitment?

The discussion about gender-based violence has gained visibility in Cuba. The institutions that have worked on it and those that have done nothing or little know it. The victims, many, know it. It is known by those who are activists against religious reactionary isms and all types of conservatism. It is also known by those who fear that a fairer society for women will take away privileges. It is known by sexists who brag that gender-based violence does not exist, that gender-based inequality does not exist, that gender does not exist. On November 21, forty citizens asked Parliament for a Comprehensive Law against Gender Violence. A month later, the President expressed that the issue of gender-based violence was highly sensitive. Although there seems to be awareness of the matter, the proposal to draw up a Comprehensive Law did not classify within the legislative Schedule approved in 2019, where another 107 high-ranking norms did fit. There is no sign that this fact will change, although it would be desirable. Part of the citizenry is still following the matter. According to institutional statements, the alternative to the absence of a specific norm on gender-based violence in Cuba is to transversalize in other...

Photo: Kaloian

Comprehensive Law against Gender Violence: what is gained and what is lost

In Cuba, that which will be the last state regulation regarding sexist violence is being discussed. So far, it is known that the issue is on the national institutional political agenda and that it has gained body and visibility for citizens. That violence against women is a problem was recognized in the Conference of the Communist Party of Cuba (2012), in the new Constitution of the Republic (2019), in the country’s official reports to ECLAC (2019), in institutional talks and work, and in citizens’ demands. It is not just a national issue. In recent decades, legal attention to the fight against violence against women has increased almost worldwide. Women's and feminist organizations, international organizations, civil society and governments have contributed to this. The process has been difficult, with advances and setbacks, and has confirmed that the problem is not resolved just with legal changes, but that without them the issue is further from any solution. In legislative terms, Cuba has arrived a little late to the concert of legal actions in the region. Latin America is the territory with the most policies approved in favor of women and against sexist violence in the last decade. Today, 33 countries in the...

Photo: Kaloian

The gender of gender violence

In recent weeks, one of the most echoed and systematic debates in Cuba has been that of gender violence, especially in institutional voices, the media and the social media. Different elements have converged in that sense. International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women is celebrated every year on November 25. On that day, an extensive day of institutional activism is held in the country to make the problem visible and deepen the analysis of the issue. Community, cultural and different social projects have also joined. In addition, Cuba is on the threshold of a huge regulatory change after the approval of the new Constitution of the Republic. More than 50 laws will be modified or created in the coming years. The calendar must be made public before April 2020. This process has established the question of what place will gender violence occupy in the new legal body. Interest has been added to the matter by a citizen request to the National Assembly, delivered on November 21, 2019. The central request is the inclusion in the legislative calendar of an Integral Law against Gender Violence. This effort has contributed to making visible the two options that are being handled...

Photo: Pxhere

It’s not easy, Cachita

I have to go buy flowers―it was the first thing that came to my mind on September 7. Better today. Tomorrow no one can find yellow flowers. Flowers The two kiosks that sell flowers in the agricultural market changed their format and supply. There were the usual paint cans reused as containers for long-stemmed bundles. But there were also unusual made-up bouquets, each with sunflowers, stubbornly dusted with a silver frost. Flowers don’t need makeup. Never. But nothing and no one is free of the frost during these days of celebration or tribute to Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre, Cuba’s patron saint, and Oshún, deity of the Yoruba pantheon. The sunflowers were combined with a white flower: lilies, small roses or daffodils. I plunged into the cans with tied bundles. Digging, I touched the first interlocutor of the day. She was looking at me but wasn’t talking at all with me: -Oshun, my dear ... have you seen how things are? With these prices no one can buy you flowers.... Forgive me! I nodded. -Yes.... It's not easy! The stranger ended up buying a sunflower and a daffodil. I left with three sunflowers. Both of us proud with...

Illustration: Alina Najlis.

First data on femicide in Cuba

Cuba joins the list of countries speaking about femicides. This was acknowledged by official sources at the end of last April in a national report to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) on how the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is being addressed. Although the report is from 2019, the specific data is from 2016. That year the femicide rate was 0.99 per 100,000 inhabitants of the female population older than 15 years. For a similar period, that rate is low compared to countries such as El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Mexico or Brazil; and high in relation to Peru, Chile or Panama. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, in 2016 the female population in those ages was 5,052,239. Then, approximately 50 women were killed in crimes officially classified as femicides. About one per week. The first data A year ago it seemed unlikely to have a number on these crimes. Since 2005, femicide has been a topic of international and regional interest, however in Cuba it was treated as a foreign issue. The same has not happened with the general issue of violence against women, which has been more diligently approached. The Women and Family...

Illustration: Alina Najlis.

Women’s “special periods” in Cuba

In March 1990 Fidel Castro gave the closing speech of the 5th Congress of the Federation of Cuban Women (FMC). He had done it many times before. But on that occasion he heralded a major change. In his speech he acknowledged that the country was on the threshold of a crisis: the Special Period in times of peace. There are some who say that we’re already in special period. We aren’t in a special period, but we are almost in a special period.... It’s something that we don’t want, something that we hope will not happen, but we have the elementary duty to draw up all our plans for such circumstances...we must be prepared for the worst circumstances.... I want you to know that the general principle ―and I will not give more ideas― would be, at least, that what we have we share among all. The women gathered there applauded. After such an announcement, the certainty that there would be an egalitarian and cooperative way out was appreciated. The crisis reached a country where poverty levels were low (6.6% in the mid-1980s) and the inequality index (Gini coefficient) was 0.24, one of the lowest in the region. The management...

Photo taken in Caibarién, during the burial of the child Carlos Duviel, murdered by his father. Photo: Pedro Manuel González Reinoso/Cubanet.

To kill and let die

The last few weeks have brought to the forefront of Cuban public opinion two acts of extreme violence: the murders of a young woman and a ten-year-old boy. Both events, independent of each other, occurred in the province of Villa Clara. The child was murdered by his father, who has a record of violence against the child's mother (including physical assault and attempted murder) and he had assured her that she would not see her son alive again. The name of Leydi Laura García Lugo lengthens a list of women with the same fate. In 2018, official media followed the killing of Leidy Maura Pacheco Mur, in Cienfuegos. For the first time official coverage was given to the murder (after kidnapping and rape) of a woman. The fact shocked the province and the country. Alternative means of communication and citizens’ denunciations have been registered in other cases: Misleydis González García (Ciego de Ávila, 2018); Daylín Najarro Causse and Tomasa Causse Fabat (Cienfuegos, 2018); Delia Hecheverría Blanc (Santiago de Cuba, 2017, whose daughter was also assaulted and hospitalized); a 18-year-old woman in the municipality of Florida (Camagüey, 2017), another one in San Miguel del Padrón (Havana, 2018); and still another in...

Illustration: Alina Najlis.

The year of the dispute over the Magna Carta

In Cuba, 2018 went by between tests of Internet connection and meetings to consult the draft constitution. If the years are continued to be given names in Cuba, that could have been the "Year of the dispute over the Magna Carta and the wait for mobile data." The flour or deodorant crisis, the return of doctors from the Brazilian mission, and even the inauguration of the current president, were situations. Some, vital; but still situations. Internet on cell phones is already a fact (at least for those who enjoy 3G, 900mz phones and money to pay similar or higher packages in cost to those of other parts of the world, expensive for Cuban pockets). The Constitution still isn’t. The full text will be taken to a referendum on February 24. The answer to the question "Do you ratify the new Constitution of the Republic?" will put an end to 2018, which has not yet finished pending this last gesture. That moment will give a turn to the hourglass. It will start by discounting the time that the rest of the Cuban legal network has to respond to the new standard. Up to two years is the established time. According to...

Photo: Kaloian

The Cuba novel

Sometimes I think I left. But I have not left. At least not completely. I have stayed, at times entirely. And sometimes only in body, while the rest of me is in other places. Or my body has been anywhere, but I've been here. Some parts of me have gone and they have not come back anymore. It happens to many people. Not only to those born in Cuba. It happens to nine out of 10 people who are or have been emigres; even if it is for a while, even if they don’t feel completely emigres, even if they have dreamed of migrating or are convinced that this was the best way, or the only way. What doesn’t happen to anyone is the estrangement with respect to the point of departure. If someone tells you a story about the country that runs through your veins and you do not recognize it, did you lose your homeland? The vision of Cuba is captured by the fatalism of the poles. You hate or love, friend or enemy, inside or outside, with me or against me, immaculate Cuba or rotten Cuba. That polar system is politically interested, and this is not necessarily...

Illustration: Alina Najlis.

It was femicide, and that matters

It was not one more homicide: it was femicide. After this precision, Leidy Maura Pacheco Mur will continue dead; her son, an orphan; her family, torn apart; Cienfuegos, dismayed. However, it is important to specify this. Leidy Maura On September 26, 2017, Leidy Maura was murdered. She had gone to the Commerce enterprise interested in a course, she had visited friends, she had lunch with her husband and gotten on a bus and then on a van. She had gotten home. But she was kidnapped. Then she was raped. Lastly, she was murdered. On September 27, the whole city – including one of the alleged murderers – mobilized to search for the missing woman. Two suspects were initially identified and a few days ago three of them were tried. At least one of them has antecedents of rape. Irael Enrique Campos, aged 32, was sentenced to life imprisonment; Darián Gómez Chaviano, 25, was also sentenced to life imprisonment. In the case of Henry Hanoi Tamayo Hernández, 19, a minor before the law, he was sentenced to a prison term of 30 years. It hasn’t just been Leidy Maura. We don’t have figures, but the cases are made known by word...

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