In a time of global crisis, Cuba represents a unique reality for women. Understanding that sexual equality is necessarily bound with economic and political equality, women's emancipation is crucial to the ongoing process of revolution. The huge grassroots political involvement of the people, and the planned economy driven by their needs, means that society actively works to challenge sexism and inequality. Accordingly, Cuba stands out in The World Economic Forum's study on gender disparity and economics - despite its small economy and the blockade which attempts to strangle development, its women rank highly in health, education, political and economic equality. The index shows Cuba's gender disparity has improved; Britain, despite its imperialist wealth, is only four places above Cuba, and has fallen in ranking.
Overwhelming opposition to the US blockade of Cuba was shown at the United Nations General Assembly on 25 October 2011. This is the 20th consecutive year that the Cuban resolution condemning the US blockade has won support at the UN. The resolution on The Necessity of Ending the Economic, Commercial and Financial Blockade Imposed by the United States of America against Cuba was backed by the votes of 186 UN member states. Only the US and ‘its inseparable ally in genocidal actions’, Israel, opposed the resolution. Three Pacific island countries abstained. Despite worldwide opposition, the US, as a member of the UN Security Council, will veto the vote and continue its brutal blockade against the Cuban people. While attempts to isolate Cuba from the international stage have failed, the negative impact of US policies and the blockade on Cuban living standards is in no doubt. The blockade, which has been tightened in recent years, is estimated to have caused a total $975 billion in damage to the island at present gold prices.
A recent study by Save the Children ranking the reach and effectiveness of health workers across the world proved an embarrassment for the UK and the US in 14th and 15th place - trailing behind Cuba in 8th position. The study attempted to rank the best countries to be a sick child in, tracking the proportion of children who receive regular vaccinations, and mothers who have access to life-saving emergency care at birth.
FRFI 223 October/November 2011
Photo: Ernesto Freire Cazañas
Since the mid-2000s, Cuba’s revolutionary government has introduced numerous measures to recover from the economic crisis of the 1990s and improve the efficiency of Cuban socialism. This process has intensified since 2008 to deal with economic and financial problems aggravated by the international crisis. Among these policies are changes to the employment structure. In September 2010, the Cuban Trade Union Confederation (CTC) announced plans to transfer one million unproductive state sector workers into alternative employment between 2011 and 2015; half of them by March 2011. Alternative employment includes understaffed areas of the state sector, cooperatives and self-employment. These changes were further detailed in the Guidelines of the Economic and Social Policy of the Party and the Revolution, distributed and debated nationwide from November 2010, modified according to popular demand at the Congress of the Cuban Communist Party (CCP) (see FRFI 221) in April 2011 and approved in the National Assembly in July.
We, participants in the 1er. Foro Nuestra América "Realidad, Identidad, Cultura, Ottawa, Canada, held today, October 8, 2011 take notice of the following facts:
The Cuban Five, Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González and Rene González, were arrested in 1998 in Miami, Florida. They were infiltrating terrorist groups there who had wrecked havoc against the Cuban people for many decades. The sole purpose of the five Cubans was to expose the terrorist activities to the American authorities in order to stop the murder and destruction against Cubans and Cuban property. The goal of the Cubans was also to contribute towards ending the danger to American lives because of the extremist and reckless activities carried out by the terrorists from their base in the south of Florida.
Rene Gonzalez in prison with his daughters Irmita and Ivette during a visit.
On Friday 7 October, Rene Gonzalez, one of the Cuban Five incarcerated in United States since 1998 for combating terrorism against Cuba, faces a ‘supervised release’ under life-threatening conditions. In 2001, Rene was sentenced to 15 years in prison charged with conspiracy to act as a non-registered foreign agent. He had already spent 33 months in ‘preventative custody’, including 17 months in isolation in ‘the hole’.
Thursday 30th June was the start of the annual 5-day Marxism event, organised by the Socialist Workers’ Party (SWP), which I attended for the first time.
Having signed up for membership of the SWP in early March of this year, I was convinced by many friendly and enthusiastic fellow members that ‘this year would be the biggest and best ever and not to be missed!’. It certainly was the largest attended in over a decade (approximately 4,500 people according to the SWP) but I for one was left underwhelmed.
An engaging new music video against the US blockade on Cuba has been released by the UK rapper Lowkey. The song Too Much recognises Cuba’s achievements as a defiant force against anti-imperialism despite US aggression and the blockade.
The track, and its' video filmed in Cuba, focuses on capitalism and its perverse obsession with material things, most obviously money, over human values and the physical and emotional well being of people in society. The video shows life in Cuba, where although people are still affected by the crisis of capitalism, a new socialist society is being built which puts humanity at its centre.