2013 Summary: Citizens wait for their time

Without giving up on its long-time aspirations, Cuba’s small and dispersed civil society was marked in 2013 by the impact of reform that the Raúl Castro government has been implementing, with both advances and setbacks, to leave behind a more than 20-year-long crisis and to temper existing legislation to the new times, among other steps. … Leer más

Without giving up on its long-time aspirations, Cuba’s small and dispersed civil society was marked in 2013 by the impact of reform that the Raúl Castro government has been implementing, with both advances and setbacks, to leave behind a more than 20-year-long crisis and to temper existing legislation to the new times, among other steps.

One way or another, communities such as LGBTIQ (lesbian, gay, bi, trans, intersexual and queer), intellectuals, and artists made their demands felt as part of the general process that the nation experienced within the context of the so-called updating of the country’s model.

These include actions to include respect for free sexual orientation and identity as part of the debates taking place nationwide on the draft Labour Code, which was passed in December, and the participation of filmmakers in the restructuring of state film institute, the ICAIC (Instituto Cubano de Arte e Industria Cinematográficos).

Email and blogs continued to be the fundamental channels for diverse citizens’ voices to be heard with respect to government decisions and specific problems, generating controversies that died out without being reflected in the local media, such as what was sparked by the closing of private 3D cinemas.
New faces emerged out of unexpected situations, such as g-20, a collective made up of 20 filmmakers who are pressing to be heard and to decide how to get the country’s depressed audio-visual production back on its feet, legalise independent producers, and achieve national film legislation, among other goals.

In addition, it was learned in July that the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC)—the country’s ruling and only political party—had made an addition to its statutes obliging its members to confront prejudice or discriminatory behaviour based on skin colour, gender, religious belief, sexual orientation, or any other reason.

Problems such as gender-based violence were better-received and more visible in public spaces, while others such as racial equity remained below thick veils of silence. Last year was not exempt, either, from troubles and moments of misunderstanding with respect to civil society and its role, evidencing that much still remains to be done.

Filmmakers assert themselves

First, doubts about the future of the Muestra Joven young filmmakers’ film series led participants in this year’s edition to demand more autonomy for the only space that has been disseminating the work of young and independent filmmakers in Cuba for the last 12 years. Subsequently, filmmakers from some three different generations demanded that they be part of restructuring the state film institute, ICAIC (Instituto Cubano del Arte e Industria Cinematográficos) and transforming the country’s cinema system.

Unquestionably, this group of professionals asserted itself as part of thinking out how the cultural sector is being tempered amid the economic reform.

Demands such as granting the Muestra Joven “independence and the necessary tools for functioning coherently as an annual programme” were pronounced by a group of young filmmakers on April 4 at the Fresa y Chocolate cultural centre in Havana. A letter containing the demands was addressed to Omar González, then-president of ICAIC, which oversees the Muestra. It proposed the creation of an advisory team of five people to work with ICAIC’s organizing committed, and revealed that the festival was being threatened by a scarcity of finances. In fact, the event has been self-managed since its 2012 edition.

But it didn’t end there. On Saturday Apr. 6, more than 50 young directors met with ICAIC representatives at the Fresa y Chocolate centre. Twelve people were nominated to select the advisory team’s five members, and meeting participants expressed concerns about the festival’s financial self-management, the isolation of filmmakers who live outside of Havana, the scant visibility and dissemination of materials by young people in Cuba and abroad, and the need for institutional recognition of independent production companies.

On Apr. 12, the e-bulletin Señales de la Muestra Joven reported that the independent committee would be made up of Ariagna Fajardo, Armando Capó, Mijaíl Rodríguez, Pedro Luis Rodríguez and Vanessa Portieles.

However, on May 4 the Fresa y Chocolate cultural centre once again hosted an unprecedented meeting of some 70 filmmakers who demanded participation in ICAIC’s restructuring and urgent-needed changes to the way that Cuban cinema is produced and distributed. It was the culmination of a controversy sparked by a letter from Kike Álvarez that circulated in April.

“We don’t know what’s going to happen,” Cuban filmmaker Fernando Pérez, who together with Álvarez led the “spontaneous meeting,” said at the time. At the meeting, participants proposed new mechanisms for the distribution and exhibition—national and international—along with the legalisation of independent production companies, the updating of production forms, the technological and structural renovation of the country’s cinemas, and the creation of a national film law. A multigenerational working group of 12 filmmakers was created to represent the sector in official institutions, and the group was later expanded to 20.

 “The essential objective of this group is to represent filmmakers in every official body and at every event, to promote and ensure their active participation in all decisions and projects related to Cuban cinema, and to fight for the protection and development of these arts and industries and their makers.”

Source: Declaration of the Group of Cuban Filmmakers elected at the Filmmakers’ Assembly on May 4 at the Fresa y Chocolate centre. Havana, May 8, 2013

The collective, known as g-20, has the founding documents Birth Certificate and Declaration of Principles, and since then, it has met periodically with representatives from the Ministry of Culture and ICAIC. It reports on its activities on a space which was donated by the website of the nongovernmental organisation UNEAC (the Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba) and at various conferences and festivals.

All sides have exchanged proposals for legislation and ideas about a new regulation for registering “film and audio-visual creators.” The g-20 requested legal recognition of independent production companies, discussed a proposed regulation for non-state production companies, and advocated for the creation of a cultural cooperative based on a conception different from the current Decree-Law No. 305, which authorised the opening of non-agricultural cooperatives in certain sectors.

Gender, making progress

On Jan. 10, the space for gender and culture “Mirar desde la sospecha” (“With a suspicious perspective”) ended the monthly sessions maintained for two years at the offices of the non-governmental Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba (UNEAC). Subsequently, it became a group that organised workshops and panel discussions in other provinces on themes related to Cuba’s cultural world, with a feminist perspective.

In a brief space of time, the group’s organisers, academic Danae C. Diéguez and journalists Helen Hernández Hormilla and Lirians Gordillo Piña, took a qualitative step forward in their activism for gender equality, which resulted in real progress in making violence against women more visible. Along with writers Laidi Fernández de Juan and Marilyn Bobes, literature critics Luisa Campuzano and Zaida Capote, and psychologist Sandra Álvarez, Diéguez, Hernández and Gordillo issued an appeal regarding the legal case of Cuban writer Ángel Santiesteban, involving troublesome questions of gender-based violence and politics.

It was precisely on International Women’s Day that the group read and distributed via email a text titled “March 8: United against Violence” (“8 de marzo: tod@s contra la violencia”), making available to the public the opinions of Santiesteban’s ex-wife, Kenia Rodríguez, as well as other witnesses in his controversial case. With that document and another, similar one issued on March 10, along with hundreds of comments and the support of 227 people from eight other countries (Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, Colombia, Spain, Sweden, the United States, and Uruguay), the collective took a side in the case and sounded a warning about the silenced scourge of gender-based abuse.

“Combating violence against women can be achieved only if all of us, men and women, united against the inequality that motivates it and recognise the rights of abused women to defend themselves against their attackers and report the attack,” the text said.

On July 9, Cuba presented a document combining its seventh and eighth reports to the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). On July 25, that committee issued its recommendations to Cuba, acknowledging the country’s progress on gender issues and urging it to take actions such as conducting statistical studies on sexist abuse, creating comprehensive legal definitions of all forms of discrimination against women, and paying more attention to the empowerment of vulnerable groups such as people of African descent and rural women.

Other spaces that were conquered, many of them with the incorporation of men as part of the solution, were:

–    In February, the Iberian American and African Masculinities Network (RIAM for its acronym in Spanish) created a group of about 70 athletes, 30 of whom are Olympic or world champions, including Cubans Javier Sotomayor (high jumper) and Félix Savón (boxer). And their mission of convincing athletes to become ambassadors of a culture of peace toward women and girls took on a regional scope with the launching in Havana on Aug. 30 of the Unete (Join Us) Athletes’ Network. Its founders were Cubans Eugenio George, of the Cuban Volleyball Federation, and football players Osmany Torres, Abel Martínez, Andy Baquero and Daniel Ernesto Luis. The campaign remains open for the 33 countries that make up the Latin American region for UNiTE, the local chapter of the UN campaign led by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

–    Under the auspices of Cuba’s national Music Institute, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (COSUDE), UN agencies in Cuba and other national and international organisations, singer Rochy Ameneiro, academic Julio César González Pagés, and director Catherine Murphy of the United States joined with artists from UNiTE Network for Non-Violence to organise concerts, workshops and audiovisual presentations in seven Cuban cities from June 28 to July 12, as a way of demonstrating that prevention and education in a culture of peace can be done through the arts. A total of 1,235 people attended the different events, 70 percent of whom were women.

–    On April 25, the RIAM launched a campaign in Havana: “Valiant is not Violent,” promoted by UN agencies in Latin America and the Caribbean as part of the global UNiTE campaign, prioritised by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. This initiative, which continues to spread throughout Latin America, is based on communication for social change and emphasizes the responsibility of young men in ending violence against women and girls.

–    The National Campaign against Violence against Women continued all year long through non-violence festivals that were held in different places around the country, although 16 days of activism organised between Nov. 25 and Dec. 10 had the greatest impact. For the first time it was possible to have activities in nine of the country’s 15 provinces. Concerts were staged by Cuban celebrities such as Tony Ávila and David Blanco, and by Mexican Alejandro Filio, as well as parades by young people, a pastoral reflection conference with a focus on gender, special screenings in cinemas, visual arts exhibitions, panel discussions, the revival of the “Men for Non-Violence” platform, the awarding of the UNiTE prize as part of the 35th International Festival of New Latin American Cinema in Havana, and the emergence of initiatives such as “With our Own Voice,” coordinated by the Mirarte Diadia arts project and hip hop grop Obsesión.

In a variety of the country’s institutions, the need for mass media that is free of sexism was expressed, including the 2013 national Radio and Television Festival, the 9th Congress of the Union of Cuban Journalists (UPEC), the 2013 Caracol Festival, and a workshop sponsored jointly by the NGOs the Federation of Cuban Women (FMC) and the National Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba (UNEAC), on Dec. 10 in Havana, focusing on the need to adjust cultural programming so that it has an inclusive approach.

The initial results of a monitoring project were announced: “Regarding a Study of Gender in Cuban Television Programmes,” which examined the country’s five national TV channels, the city of Havana’s TV channel (Canal Habana) and the international channel Telesur. The study was conducted between Nov. 12, 2012 and Aug. 12, 2013, and stemmed from a larger project supported by COSUDE. It found that Cuban television lacks a coherent approach to gender, including in programmes about women.

Sexual diversity in the law

Buoyed by a focus on rights, LGBTIQ activists revised their strategy and waged small battles in the national setting as they await major changes that will take some time, such as the approval of same-sex unions and a law on gender identity.

For the first time since 1997, a feminine transsexual who did not undergo genital adjustment surgery obtained an official ID with the name of her choice, and with a photo reflecting her gender identity. This encouraged other trans persons who were in the same situation to initiate the same process in their cities or towns. The state-run National Centre for Sex Education (CENESEX) aspires for this to become an ordinary procedure.

This was also an outcome of the fact that CENESEX trained more legal personnel, especially outside of the capital, in terms of how to recur to existing Cuban legislation in cases where the rights of non-heterosexuals have been violated. The centre also expanded the legal services that it provides at its offices in Havana.

“People also have to be brave and report those crimes,” CENESEX lawyer Manuel Vázquez told the IPS news office.

Journalist Francisco Rodríguez revealed on his blog, Paquito el de Cuba, that in July, an addition was made to the internal regulations of the Communist Party of Cuba. A document was circulated among the membership, “Grass-roots chapters and the principal modifications made to the statutes of the Communist Party of Cuba,” dated in February, specifying that it is the right of members to confront prejudice and discriminatory behaviour based on skin colour, gender, religious belief, sexual orientation, or any other reason, according to Rodríguez, who is also a member of the Party.

“Likewise, no real communist militant can be racist, sexist, or misogynist, or demonstrate intolerance toward people who have religious beliefs or who come from the most disadvantaged areas of the country,” Rodríguez commented. While what is most needed is a change in mentality, the country also needs continued educational and awareness-raising efforts among its population of 11.2 million, he added.

Almost at year’s end, on Dec. 21, Cuba changed its status as a country with no legislation referring to discrimination based on sexual orientation when the National Assembly (Parliament) passed a new Labour Code that included this aspect among reasons for marginalisation that should be avoided in the workplace. Local television broadcast the debates that took place in the (unicameral) National Assembly, in a demonstration of the sensitivities and prejudices that these questions still spark.

The proposal was taken to the National Assembly session by Mariela Castro Espín, director of CENESEX, and backed by assembly member Miriam Ofelia Ortega, the first woman to be ordained as a pastor in the Presbyterian Church in Cuba, along with

Pablo Odén Marichal, an Episcopal pastor. Statements against the proposal were heard from officials such as Homero Acosta, secretary of the Council of State, and José Luis Toledo, president of Parliament’s Commission on Constitutional and Legal Affairs.

One way or another, this achievement, which is still incomplete—because gender identity, disability and HIV-positive status were left out of the law’s language—was a result of LGBTIQ activism during mass discussions on the draft Labour Code that were held nationwide between July 20 and October of 2013. Beginning in August, Rodríguez had urged non-heterosexual people to propose the addition of the clause in these debates, while on the 10th of that month, physician Alberto Roque sent an open letter to the president of Parliament with details on how to include respect for sexual diversity. At the same time, the young journalist Maykel González, of Sagua la Grande in Villa Clara province, asked in a Sept. 23 blog post for the explicit inclusion of no discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or HIV-positive status.

Other milestones were the founding of the groups Atenea, in the central city of Ciego de Ávila, and Venus, in the eastern city of Granma, reinforcing the social networks of women who love other women. The yearly National Campaign against Homophobia continued to expand, and this year’s campaign, the sixth, was dedicated to the family and was given unusually high coverage by the state media: 50 news stories.

A variety of visual arts exhibitions featured views on homoeroticism among contemporary artists and the celebrated Cuban painter Servando Cabrera Moreno (1923–1981). “Sex in the city. Homoeroticism in Cuban Art Today” opened on Jan. 18 with the attendance of more than 1,000 people who filled the La Acacia art gallery in Havana to admire the work of more than 25 artists from different generations, with curating by Píter Ortega. Another exhibition, “Epiphany of the Body,” featured 34 drawings, most of which had never been exhibited and others that were censored by the National Museum of Fine Arts (Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes) four decades ago, during a dark time for the arts, including for the homoerotic art of Cabrera Moreno. The selection, which opened on June 20 in the Havana museum/library that bears Cabrera’s name, was part of a series of activities commemorating the 90th anniversary of the painter’s birth.

Racist obstacles

The International Decade for People of African Descent was kicked off, having been declared by the UN beginning in 2013, without the same expansion of debate about racism that took place in 2011. A Cuban organisation, Cofradía de la Negritud (Brotherhood of Blackness), which from 2010 to 2012 was the only anti-racism project, reduced the number of its activities and of its e-bulletin, Desde la Ceiba. A growing impact was felt throughout the year of the Cuban chapter of the Regional Afro-Descendant Articulation of Latin America and the Caribbean (ARAC), which maintained its objective of reducing zones of racism in the country and adopted the approach of human rights as its core strategy.

However, the evidence that racism persists as a social and even political taboo was highlighted by a controversy that broke out over the publication in the New York Times of a critical article about racism as a problem in Cuba. Attributed to essayist Roberto Zurbano, the article, “For Blacks in Cuba, the Revolution Hasn’t Begun,” published on March 23, triggered a debate that was limited to the Internet, to which a limited number of Cubans have access. The local media did not comment on the case and did not even publish the article by Zurbano, an important official with the Casa de las Américas cultural institution, or to reactions that were for or against his article.

Well-known anti-racist intellectuals concentrated their initial criticism on the headline, which according to the author was not the one he had approved and which “erased any possibility of black Cubans identifying with the Revolution.”

“The headline that was approved by me, which was ‘For Blacks in Cuba, the Revolution Has Not Ended,’ even though it was not the original—which was ‘The Country to Come and My Black Cuba’—seemed fortuitous to me, because that idea is touched on a number of times in my article,” Zurbano wrote in a second article that circulated on the Internet as of Apr. 14.

About two weeks after the initial article was published in the Times, Zurbano was removed from his post as director of the Casa de las Américas Editorial Fund and given a lower-ranking job as an analyst with the institution. Articles and opinions issued by intellectuals such as Heriberto Feraudy, Zuleica Romay, Antonio J. Martínez, Rogelio M. Díaz, Víctor Fowler, Gisela Arandia, Sandra Álvarez, Silvio Rodríguez, Félix Sautié, Fernando Martínez Heredia, Guillermo Rodríguez and Pedro Pérez contributed a variety of perspectives on Zurbano’s situation, which for the most part analyzed the persistence of racism, the functioning of the media, and freedom of expression, among other questions, which have been covered by the IPS Cuba news bureau.

After these events, Zurbano continued his anti-racist activism.

In May, the third chapter of the documentary series “1912. Voices for a Silence,” began to be screened in institutions and alternative spaces. Directed by Cuban filmmaker Gloria Rolando, the series reconstructs, with people from the present, a racist event that has been forgotten in national history: the massacre that year of more than 3,000 black and mixed-race people who were sympathisers of the Independent Party of Colour (1908-1912), by the authorities.

Timid but firm steps were taken by the Afro-Descendant Neighbourhood Network to revive anti-racist activism in Havana, taking to the neighbourhoods studies and debates about racism that normally remain within the confines of academia. The network managed to provide monthly lectures for training some 35 local leaders at a community centre in La Lisa, in the western part of the capital, and to implement a number of projects, such as a hair salon for curly hair and a group of local artisans who make non-stereotypical black dolls that are dressed as flight attendants and soldiers.

“Racial problems are not totally resolved in Cuba,” said an August statement issued by the José Antonio Aponte Commission of UNEAC. “Laws that benefit the public in general are not enough; it is also a question of transforming social structure and uprooting entrenched prejudices,” the commission said, noting that “for the first time (the commission) had taken the debate on the race question to the National Assembly of People’s Power (unicameral Parliament).”

 A scientific study of DNA (genetic code) confirms that Cuban generations to come will be more mixed. The country’s population of 11.2 million have an average of 72 percent European genes, eight percent Amerindian, and 20 percent African, according to Beatriz Marcheco, who made her comments on the Oct. 9 television broadcast of “Neither white nor black. Cuba is mixed,” an episode of the Mesa Redonda (Roundtable) news programme.

Marchecho, who coordinate the study of about 1,600 people throughout the country, said that it is very difficult to “divide people into groups or classifications and to speak in terms of race, when the mixing of races is not just a question of skin colour but also of other physical characteristics.”


Other voices, events and debates

–Learning more about transgenics

A wide-ranging debate on genetically modified organisms that took place in 2010 in Cuba’s scientific community continued without any media coverage or follow-up in more public or popular spaces. However, the theme made sporadic appearances throughout the year.

On July 12, a workshop on genetically modified plants and their use in agriculture was organised by the Board of Directors of the national Academy of Sciences to “inform and update” members about experiences with genetically modified organisms in agriculture, clarify the foundations of the current debate on the topic, and learn about existing national instruments related to issues such as biological security, food safety, and the ethics of workers in the sciences.

Cuban-based activists Isbel Díaz, Jimmy Roque, Mario G. Castillo and Pedro Manuel González, along with two Cubans who live abroad, Ariel Hidalgo and Karel Negrete —in the United States and France, respectively—joined the debate on July 22 with the document “For Cuban Agriculture without Genetically Modified Organisms,” a letter addressed to the Cuban people from participants in the seminar “Socialist renewal and the capitalist crisis,” which was held June 24-28 at the University of Havana.

In September, 45 people from 10 countries had added their names to the document, opposing the “extensive cultivation of genetically modified crops in Cuba,” and appealing to the “national scientific community, Cuban farmers, and citizens to join this demand.” Meanwhile, local television addressed the issue of transgenics on the programme “Journey to the Unknown” in April and the national midday news programme in December.

–Political improvisation:

A diversity of people spoke out on blogs and online media about an event involving musician Robertico Carcassés that led to a debate on freedom of expression, rights, citizen responsibility, and professional ethics. Some said that they saw signs that “today you can say what you think” without fear of major reprisals, unlike in past decades.

Leaving thousands of TV viewers and the public speechless, Carcassés asked for political change in Cuba during a Sept. 12 concert at the Anti-Imperialist stage in Havana that was organised to support the movement to free four Cubans who are being held in U.S. prisons and who are considered as heroes by Havana and spies by Washington.

“I want them to free the five heroes and to free ‘Maria.’ Free access to information so that I can have my own opinion. Elect the president by direct vote and not any other way,” Carcassés said in improvised comments during a performance by his group Interactivo as part of a show featuring numerous local artists, the families of the prisoners, and René González, the only one of the group that completed his sentence.

Subsequently, it was learned that the artist had been punished by Ministry of Culture authorities by being banned from performing in state-run venues or having his music played on radio or television for an indefinite period. However, on Sept. 17, singer-songwriter Silvio Rodríguez reported on his blog Segunda cita, that the punishment had been lifted after “positive” discussions between Carcassés and Ministry of Culture representatives.

–23 bricks for “Casa Cuba”:

After a little over a year of work, the Laboratorio Casa Cuba (Casa Cuba Laboratory) issued a document proposing 23 aspects to be debated in the interest of improving Cuba’s institutions. Attached to the magazine Espacio Laical, this collective brings together intellectuals from a range of political currents to “study Cuba’s institutions,” “make suggestions for their improvement,” and socialise the results and the debate on these questions, “to achieve greater stability in the process of change that the nation is undergoing.”

For that reason, the group’s members—Julio César Guanche, Julio Antonio Fernández, Dmitri Prieto, Miriam Herrera, Mario Castillo, Roberto Veiga and Lenier González—publicised the initial results in a document, “The Cuba we dream of—possible Cuba—future Cuba: proposals for the immediate future,” in the interest of obtaining a response from Cubans with access to email. The proposals included ensuring the “enjoyment of civil, family, political, cultural, social, labour, and economic rights,” freedom of association, the right to information, citizen control over institutions, direct election of public representatives, fair remuneration for teaching personnel, university and academic autonomy with freedom to set up departments and studies, and participation by the diaspora in the life of the country.

–The media under review:

As the country turns to economic and social reform in search of greater productivity and development, the official mass media seem to have lagged behind these changes, according to echoes of the 9th Congress of the Union of Cuban Journalists, which was held in July. Material shortages, de-professionalisation, and other factors needed for media that is critical and in tune with the national reality were addressed during the congress. The need for a law on the media was raised during the event, and this demand was more thoroughly addressed on blogs such as La Joven Cuba and Chiringa de Cuba.

“The Cuban media model is in crisis,” said Raúl Garcés to the magazine En Vivo. Garcés, dean of the University of Havana’s Faculty of Communication, described the situation as “a threat and an opportunity…because this country has sufficient human resources and training to take a qualitative leap in journalism.” The updating of the national economic model “must be accompanied by other updates,” he asserted.

–Final farewells:

Over the past year, the country bid its final farewell to intellectuals who were associated in many ways with controversial social questions in Cuba.

On Apr. 19, Cubans mourned the death of Alfredo Guevara, who expressed confidence the capacity for renewal of young people, and who was one of the most outstanding figures of Cuban culture. In May, in Mérida, Venezuela, 61-year-old psychologist Pablo Ramos passed away. He was a colleague of Guevara and the director/founder of the Audiovisual Universe of Latin American Children, attached to the Cuban film institute, ICAIC. Another literature great, Jaime Sarusky, died in August, leaving behind an invaluable journalistic legacy about the communities of Swedish, Norwegian, Scandinavian, Canadian, Finnish, and Jamaican immigrants to Cuba that does not appear in general history. And, on July 4, Inés María Martiatu passed way, a writer, theater scholar, and activist for the rights of women of African descent.

Coming horizon

The economic reform will go through a deeper stage of change in 2014, when growing inequality gaps predicted by activists and experts could become more visible. This challenge is one of a number of obstacles that are dominating the concerns and impact on citizens, such as limited channels for financing, scant official legitimisation of their role, and excessive politicisation of Cuban life, among others.

Likewise, educating people in values and ending the crisis of civility in Cuba are another area where citizen activism has much to contribute. The situation has reached the extent that Cuban President Raúl Castro remarked in his closing speech to Parliament in July about “The marked deterioration of moral and civic values” during the more than 20 years of economic crisis experienced by this population of 11.2 million.

Among other aspects, these problems were caused by the “early elimination of programmes on morality and civics from the education system,” along with other factors that have caused “profound family dysfunction that has lasted to this day,” according to anthropologist Jesús Guanche in his article “Cuba y los desafíos de la civilidad: alcances, contradicciones y paradojas” which appeared in the magazine Espacio Laical.

With the precedent of the most inclusive Labour Code ever, 2014 has begun with steps to assure the rights of trade unions and vulnerable groups, as Parliament expects to update the Penal Code (1987); the Penal Procedure Law (1977), and the Foreign Investment law (1995). However, the long-awaited new Family Code, which would benefit children, abused women, and non-heterosexual persons, still did not have a date to be discussed in the National Assembly.

Perhaps the fact that Cuba will be the host for the first time of the 5th Regional Conference of the International Association of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Trans and Intersex for Latin America and the Caribbean in May will help bring about achievements such as those attained in countries like Argentina and Uruguay, where same-sex marriages are legal and same-sex couples can adopt. (2014)

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