By Lic. Dora Mesa Crespo* and Lic. Odalina Guerrero Lara **
*Coordinator for the Cuban Association for the Development of Infant Education
**Attorney for the Cuban Law Association
ARTICLE 59 of the Preliminary Plan of Labor Law  (CHAPTER V. SPECIAL PROTECTION IN THE WORK OF YOUTH OF FIFTEEN AND SIXTEEN YEARS) regulates the working day for working teenagers 15 and 16 years old.
ARTICLE 59: The working day of youths of fifteen (15) and sixteen (16) years of age cannot exceed seven (7) hours daily, nor forty (40) weekly, and they are not allowed to work on days of rest, save that the work carried out for reasons of exceptional social interest or force majeure.
We have expressed with priority, that we consider that the ARTICLE 59 stipulates that “the youths of fifteen (15) and sixteen (16) years of age for reasons of exceptional social interest or force majeure can work on days of rest” infringes Conventions of International Rights, starting in Article 3 and Article 31 of the Convention of Child Rights , that treats respectively the superior interest of the children and their right to play and to rest.
The fundamental Article 3 of the Convention expresses: “In all measures concerning children that use the public or private institutions of social welfare, the tribunals, the administrative authorities or the legislative organizations, a fundamental consideration that they will attend to will be in the superior interest of the child”.
If the teenage workers work for social interests in their days of rest, this interest overrides the greater interest of the child and so violates Article 3 of the Convention and Article 13.1 b) that regulates the prohibition of outstanding hours of work for the teenagers in the Convention number 138 of the International Organization of Work (OIT).  
When the workers younger than 18 years old work as an exception for force majeure according to the OIT,  they were particularly exposed to risks and to enter direct contact with them, which is improper according to the same Article 60 of the Preliminary Plan, the Article 32 of the Convention of Child Rights and Article 40 of the Constitution of the Republic of Cuba.
For well-founded reasons in the same legislation, we consider that ARTICLE 59 of the Preliminary Plan of Labor Law should adjust the national and international norms, principles, and rights. For this reason we recommend a new draft that guarantees the respect of the working day and the rest in all labor activities and economic sectors of the workers under the age of 18, not just those who are 15 and 16. People under 18 years of age, being a population especially vulnerable, have a right to a more specific protection.
From our point of view, it should regulate the hours of the working day of adolescents from 15 to 18, shouldn’t expose them to risks, and should always adopt the flexibility and observance of the law needed to accept other proposals of the employers that can be acceptable for the minor, with subject of right and for the competent authority of the Minister of Labor and Social Security of the Republic of Cuba.
According to the Panamerican Organization of Health (2010) it can be said that the leisure or weekly rest (OIT), from a global approach, is a human right, a resource for personal development, an area of human experience, a source of health and of prevention of physical or mental illness, and an indicator of the quality of life loaded with an enormous economic potential.
The Cuban youth, for their dependence and vulnerability, are protected by national and international law. In this manner, they benefit from established protection in all instruments of human rights, and above all in the International Convention of Child Rights and the International Human Rights. The inexcusable respect of the rest of the working adolescents is a basic standard for humanity.
Translated by LW
1 November 2013
By Lic. Dora Mesa Crespo Coordinator of the Cuban Association for the Development of Early Childhood Education, and Lic. Odalina Guerrero Lara, Attorney for the Cuban Law Association.
Labor Law is a system of principles governing employment relations. Thus, we understand that the essence of Labor Law is precisely the employment relationship.
Analysis of the draft Labor Code Law 
Chapter III. EMPLOYMENT CONTRACT. Section One Formalities and the Capacity To Make Employment Contracts
Article 20 (Chapter III) provides:
ARTICLE 20: The employment relationship between employer and employee is formalized with an employment contract…
In the Draft of the Labor Law Code, hereinafter Draft, when it defines Contract, it omits that Article 20 refers only to an individual contract.
The Individual Employment Contract is entered into individually between the employee and the employer, which can be a person, although reality shows us that in one employment relationship there can be many physical or legal parties, simultaneously or successively, corresponding to the employer.
The Draft of the Labor Code, Chapter III, Article 20 explains it in the following manner:
Acticle 20. The employment relationship between the employee and the employer is formalized via an Employment Contract, in which the employee, on one side, is committed to perform the work, follow disciplinary rules and the employer on his side, is required to pay wages to the employee and will guarantee safe working conditions, labor rights and social security which are established by legislation. The contract will be considered null if there are any violations to this Law.
The employment relationship
Per professor Cavazos, the employment relationship starts at the same moment in which the employee begins work; however, the employment contract is achieved with the simple fact of agreement. Therefore, there could be instances of the existence of an employment contract without an employment relationship; it occurs when a contract is entered into and it is agreed that the service will be performed at a later time.
The existence of an employment relationship presumes the existence of a contract, between the party performing the work and the one that receives it; it presumes the employment relationship, and the lack of agreement is always imputable to the employer.
Chapter I GENERAL DISPOSITIONS, First Section, Principles and Fundamentals to Employment Law. Perhaps to make it easier for the employees, the legal article defines the ones subjects to the “employment relationship”, (Article 9), identifies the employer and worker, but omits the description of the “employment relationship” which does exist when defining the contract, but with an inexplicable omission as to what an “Individual Work Contract” relates to.
In the section that relates to Contracts (articles 26 through 28) it really refers to the length of time of the individual relationships of employment as established in Chapter III, Draft of the Labor Code Law.
Chapter III Employment Contract – Second Section – Types of Employment Contracts
ARTICLE 26: Types of employment contracts used:
a) For an undetermined time, the work is to be undertaken in character permanent in nature and it doesn’t express the date of termination;
b) for a determined time, for the execution of a determined work or project, to complete potential or emergent work, for seasonal work or for the fulfillment of social work, for a trial period, to fill in for absent employees due to justified causes protected to continue for an undetermined time; they are arranged to be performed in a permanent manner and it doesn’t express a termination date.
Therefore, in a legal definition, it’s said that there is a contract when two or more parties, with contractual capacity agree under a common declaration of intent, meant to regulate their rights and obligations.
In modern law, the employment contract is not freed to the autonomy of the contractual parties, the law imposes limitations, fundamentally intended to protect the rights and obligations of the employee, or beneficiary, especially if they are under the age of 18.
There is a reciprocal relationship between both parties in an employment contract. By adhering to the limitations, what is a right to one party it becomes an obligation to the other. This is the legal relationship that is protected by the legal bodies.
Translated by – LYD
16 September 2013
Source – Access to Cuban Universities of Qualified Workers and Trade School Graduates, Mesa Crespo, D.L.
Although Cuba’s reputation as an advanced third world country with regards to education, annually thousand of students and workers under the age of 18 don’t have access to college level education due to social and governmental obstacles.
The Youth Code, a law implemented in 1978 and approved by the National Assembly of Popular Power, the supreme organization of the State power, explains in one of its articles that newly graduated students from basic education (up to 9th grade) can continue their education depending on their academic performance and political and social attitude.
In reality, new directives and resolutions added to the code present obstacles to the academic development of a portion of the students, who due to their age are considered adolescents.
Since the 90’s, social investigative centers run by the government have conducted studies, where diverse realities among the Cuban youth were identified: disintegration and poor social mobility in the most vulnerable population sectors and the incipient presence of demotivation to continue college education.
This post belongs to a series that attempts to analyze the access to higher education of the students attending polytechnics; especially those classified as “qualified workers” who are a part of the Technical and Professional Education (ETP). After this analysis we can concentrate on the deep fundamental aspects related to the socioeconomic and educational environment at this level of education.
The term “polytechnic student” applies to qualified workers, which refers both to the studies for qualified workers — in some specialities that relates learning a trade or skill — and to the category known as mid-level, known generically in Cuba as mid-technicians. The differentiations between the two level of students will be made when the need arises in the coming articles in order to better understand the topic.
Translated by – LYD
2 September 2013
Poverty is the cause and reason that makes the worker particularly vulnerable to psychological stress.
Source: IX Meeting of the Mixed Committee
Juan Somavia defined it as “productive labor in which freedom, equality, security and dignity are conditions, rights are respected and fair wage payment exists as well as social protection”.
The notion of decent work amounts then “to what people expect in their working lives”, a productive work with: Fair pay; Safety in the workplace; Social protection of families; Better perspectives for personal development and social integration; Freedom for individuals to express their concerns, organize and take part in the decisions that affect their life; Equality of opportunity and treatment for women and men.
What is the Decent Work?
Is an important condition to overcome poverty, reduce social inequalities and ensure sustainable development and a democratic government.
The impact of improper working conditions
Impact in numbers; Early aging; Workforce exhaustion; Mental health deterioration; Work stress; Absenteeism
Work related illnesses will double by year 2020 if no changes occur. Per the Work Ministry in Japan, some cases including suicides are on the rise: 13 cases in 1995; 18 cases in 1996; 23 cases in 1997; 355 cases in 2005
Karoshi (death due to excess work): First case in 1969.
Causes of death: Heart attacks and strokes including subarachnoid hemorrhage (18.4%); cerebral hemorrhage (17.2%); heart attack or brain stroke (6.8%); myocardial infarction (9.8%); heart failure (18.7%); other causes (29.1%), including among them illnesses of rationalization.
The National Defense Council of the Victims of Death from Overwork (karoshi), is an institution that helps the victim’s families to obtain compensation and in many cases, fight endless judicial battles; it’s considered that karoshi affects annually around 10,000 Japanese employees.
Who commits suicide?: Any social status; Work hours with a medium of 10-12 hours without rest days.
What happens in China?: The life expectancy of the “brains” that lead the technology park in Zhongguancun, north of Beijing, considered the Chinese “Silicon Valley” is 54 years and 70% risk of death from “karoshi” (death due to excess work).
It also happens in Europe: The Appellate Court in Riom (Puy-de Dome) confirmed it in February 2000; In January 20, 1997 a man was found hanged, having been threatened with dismissal.
What is burn-out? Some define it as a psychological retirement from work as an answer to dissatisfaction and excessive stress.
Dynamic Definition of burn-out: Labor Stress / Tiredness / Defensive Attitudes: Rigidity, Cynicism and Indifference; Demand – Available Resources / Tension; Fatigue, Irritability.
Absenteeism: An employee who is absent from work “without reason” is showing his desire to leave that job forever.
How can we intervene to prevent this?: With the improvement of working conditions. Improving the quality of the job is the central requirement to ensure health and security at work; so decent works exists. It’s essential to prevention.
Translated by – LYD
23 September 2013
The Privatization of Education in Cuba: Kissing the Right Frog / Haroldo Dilla Alfonso (Posted on Dora Leonor Mesa’s blog)
HAVANA TIMES — An ad for a private day care center in Havana has been posted on the Internet (including Cuba’s classifieds page, Revolico) for some days now. The owner, Zulema Rosales, is reportedly the daughter of General Rosales del Toro.
Since I don’t know this person, or the general’s family, or the general, for that matter, I can’t really confirm this claim. I don’t know whether they are good or bad people, if they are hard-working or lazy, honest or not. As such, none of this stems from a personal judgment of these individuals.
16 September 2013
By Víctor Manuel Domínguez
Havana, Cuba, 2.7.2013 http://www.cubanet.org
Another academic year with more pain than glory comes to its end (2012/2013). Another mess-up. Never mind that the information media go on about the advances in the pedagogical methodology, the implementation of the plan, the improvement in the basics of study, the improvement in the learning of the student body, and exemplary discipline.
The parents, teachers, education sector managers and the students know it isn’t so.
The promises of better courses for the students are erased like words written in chalk. The fraud, corruption and the lack of interest in teaching or learning are common in the schools.
The reasons why, course after course, things go from bad to worse, are there. The frustration of many professional parents who hardly have enough to live on, the low salary of the educators who can’t survive to the end of the month, the corruption of many directors, and the lack of prospects on the part of the pupils, are more than enough to ensure things don’t get any better.
Obdulia Camacho (not her real name), librarian, ethnologist and professor of literature and Spanish for more than six decades, says that the education sector is one of the worst and most complex in the country, because of its influence on the formation of the people from infancy.
“Before, without learning, you couldn’t advance,” she said.
At the age of 80, she still works in the sector on a contract basis. Although, as she points out, because of her low pay (about 350 pesos in national money, $16 USD) she has had to work as an attendant in a hospital and receptionist in a primary school, as well as washing and ironing for anybody who wants it, looking after people who are ill, among other work she does to make up her salary, because she has a daughter and a grandchild to support.
In accordance with her authoritative opinion, indiscipline in the sector is general. The study plans leave much to be desired. Most education centers are in bad condition in regard to basic needs, sanitary fittings, but above all education is miserable because of lack of values and corruption.
“Last week,” she said, “the mother of a student in a school located at 20 de Mayo and Ayestarán in El Cerro, turned up very upset in the center’s management office and shouted that her daughter had to pass the physics exam, since she had paid $20 in order that she wouldn’t have any problem with the grade.”
In another school in Central Havana, a student taking an exam stood up in the middle of the class and, in a disrespectful and threatening manner, went up to a female teacher, who had been in the sector for more than 40 years, and shouted at her:” Hey you, cross-eyes, if I don’t come out well in this test, you will see what happens to you.”
The teacher started crying.
According to Obdulia, although such things can happen in any country, the causes are distinctly different in Cuba, whose educational system is permeated by a disproportionate control, coercion and indoctrination of the student body to the detriment of a free and universal education.
“It’s embarrassing”, she said, “that with so many basic problems, like indiscipline, the frustration on choosing a course which offers hardly any benefit, the sale of exams – recently recognised by the official press  – the favoritism and a thousand things more that demand radical change in the national educational system, they still talk as if nothing was wrong and they hold up the Cuban educational system as an example which the world should follow.
Another academic year with more pain than glory, comes to its end. The teachers dream that in the following year their pay will go up and their working conditions will improve. The parents pray because the vacations are coming up soon. And the students enjoy themselves away from a classroom which gives them more nightmares than dreams.
 Recognised recently in the official press.
Translated by GH
16 September 2013
Our Father who is in heaven!
Why have you forgotten me?
You remembered the fruit in February,
when your flesh became ruby
My side is open as well,
and you do not want to look at me!
Nocturno, G. Mistral
Peter Newell, coordinator of the GLOBAL INITIATIVE TO END ALL Corporal PUNISHMENT OF CHILDREN is categorical in his 2010 report referring to corporal punishment inflicted upon Cuban children:
CUBA (second report – CRC/C/CUB/2)
Corporal punishment in the home
Corporal punishment in Cuban homes is legal.
The Family Code of 1975 allows “moderate” punishment by parents (article 86) and by those who are responsible for the care and/or education of children (article 152).
The legal regulations against violence and abuse in the Family Code (1975), Penal Code (1987) and the Constitution of the Republic, do not explicitly express prohibitions against corporal punishment in the upbringing of infants.
Corporal punishment outside the home
Corporal punishment in schools is legal.
The resolution, along with the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Higher Education (1987) approved disciplinary regulations at work during educational activities. However, it is said that “every worker in educational activities can’t maltreat students by words or actions (article 4)” doesn’t specifically prohibit physical punishment.
In the penal system, physical punishment is criminal (article 30). This article also applies to prisons, but Mr. Newell explains that if evidence is lacking in other institutions pertaining to children it may conflict with the law. The Code of Children and Youth (1968) also does not prohibit the use of physical punishment in minor detainees.
Physical punishment is also legal in alternative child care centers …
On June 17th 2011, the Committee for Childrens’ Rights, later referred to as the Committee, in paragraph 36 section D. Civil Rights and Liberties (articles 7, 8, 13-17, 19 and 37 (a)) of the Convention (CRC), in the final report (CRC/C/CUB/2) explains its worries to the Cuban government given that:
Articles 86 and 152 of the Family Code are still enforced by the Cuban legislature. The committee highlights its dismay that corporal punishment is often used (in Cuba) as a disciplinary measure in schools as well as in social institutions.
In paragraph 37 the Committee recommended to the Cuban government that they pass legislation explicitly prohibited corporal punishment of children, both in State institutions and in the home.
The Committee defines “corporal” or “physical” punishment as any punishment that uses physical force with the objective of causing any pain or discomfort, however mild.
The Committee says that corporal punishment is always degrading. There are other forms of punishment that are not physical, but equally cruel and degrading, also incompatible with the Convention. There are punishments that humiliate, denigrate, scapegoat, threaten, terrify and ridicule the child.
Since September 2001, in the recommendations adopted following the general discussion on “Violence against children in the family and in schools,” the Committee on the Rights of the Child urged States to “urgently enact or repeal, as necessary, legislation so as to prohibit all forms of violence, however slight, in the family and in schools, including as a form of discipline, as provided in the Convention on Children’s Rights.”
Another result of the discussions held by the Committee in 2000 and 2001 was to request the Secretary-General of the United Nations, through the General Assembly, to conduct an in-depth international study on violence against children.
In 2001 the UN General Assembly enacted that recommendation. The United Nations study, conducted between 2003 and 2006, highlights “the need to ban all legalized violence against children, as well as a deep concern for the children themselves almost universal prevalence of corporal punishment in the family and for its persistent legality in many states, schools and other institutions, and correctional systems for children in conflict with the law.”
Fifteen years ago (1997), when Cuba presented an initial report before the Committee of Children’s Rights expressing its worries against the abuse committed against minors under the age of 18 and in this context recommended the development of a campaign to prevent corporal punishment. In 2011, the Committee calls on Cuba as a State to prioritize the elimination of all forms of violence against children, with particular attention in the case of girls. Among other recommendations proposed on the contentious issue, one stands out for its importance in Cuban society to help to discover how deep the scourge of violence against Cuban children is:
To consolidate a national data system, analysis and public dissemination that includes an agenda of investigation against child abuse.
MEMBER STATES. Countries that are members of the United Nations.
PARTY STATE(S). Countries that have ratified an agreement or a convention and therefore are obliged to abide by its provisions.
Translated by: Alexis Rhyner and others
Womanhood and motherhood is a blessing. As women we are faced with many challenges in any part of the world despite the indisputable social advancements in the past decades, but one forgets when one fights to support* a family, including if you live in a country like Cuba, wretched thanks to the decision of a group of people; where on top of that everything is organized in such a manner that the difficulties and challenges are constant however planned the life you lead is. The matter is complicated much more if you are poor. Now maternity is not so fun, even though you bear it with that “the children didn’t ask you to bring them to Cuba.”
You can still be happy with three requisites: woman, mother and poor. The hair really starts to get knotted with the fourth requirement: to be black.
Everything gets complicated.
Cuba, the beautiful and racist island of the Caribbean, where it is natural to be black and poor.
If a black woman dresses well and has money, many Cubans probably believe she is a well-known artist or athlete. She’s not one of those? Weird! Does she have a foreign husband? Of course! In these cases it is recommended that one gets used to the title “girl from the streets with luck,” even though she is more demure than an angel and with more merits than a Nobel Prize. Through these reflections the Japanese Junko Tabei arrived, born May 23, 1939, in the prefecture of Fukushima. She became the first woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest, on May 16, 1975.
I am convinced that we need the courage and tenacity of this incredible mountain climber. So we, the Cubans of African descent, can occupy the place we deserve in Cuban society with full rights. And these places must be conquered with much sacrifice. This respect to which we aspire is as steep as the will of Junko Tabei. If the goal is not as high as Everest, we will lose our way. In reality there are very notable Cubans of African descent, even though nothing changes. Inevitable we have to follow the route of Junko Tabei. Without sparing strength, without receiving applause. Struggle with faith against the eternal blizzards, the intolerable exhaustion…and the habit of always seeing ourselves as so humble, so conflicted.
8 August 2013
Zero symbolizes nothing. It presents itself as the cornerstone of mathematics, mute protagonist of our arithmetical system.
The idea of zero developed in India starting in the 5th century B.C. There various religions accepted the creation of the world starting from nothing. The Hindus demonstrated that when you add it to any number it’s unchanged, while if you combine it using multiplication, the result is null. Later they tried to use it as a divisor and the admired the appearance of infinity. The Arabs transmitted this mathematical wisdom to Europe with the expansion of Islam. The Jews also incorporated it into the Cabala, their mystical tradition, to create numerology.
In the Cuban school, a child acquires the notion of the concept of zero in first grade. From a young age he knows how to recite the numbers up to great quantities but the concept of quantity and cardinal notion is usually acquired during the early years of primary school. So the concept of zero appears in the resolution of concrete operations of addition and subtraction where the same represents the absence “of what one is going to share;” eg: I have a box of 5 candies and Pedro ate 5. How many are left?
In the mathematics textbook of first grade (Edited by Pueblo and Educacion. 8th edition, Cuba 2010) the natural numbers from 1-10 appear on page 11. Starting from page 54, the number 0 appears on the number line.
During the teaching of preschool, an activity that could be used to introduce the concept of zero is to give each little one a small box of objects. Mention to them that they are going to start with zero and ask them to signal the quantity, that is to say, that they take all the objects out of the box. It is recommended to write on the board the number 0, at the same time reminding that them that we start from this number and in this way constructing learning. Instead of saying 1, 2, 3, 4,…once the toddler knows the abstract concept of number, it’s time to teach him to count: 0, 1, 2, 3, 4…. This way of teaching facilitates the concept of the number line that will be used later in the first grade of elementary school.
 Loria, Gino, Historia Sucinta de la Matematica, 1932
 Monaco Nancy I., El número cero ¿la nada matematica?, Buenos Aires, 2009
8 August 2013
An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.
After having taken a personal inventory of 2012, I’ve seen that the GECAL workers were more offensive than usual, and although we tried by all means, it was impossible to avoid confrontations. In mid-December, the situation worsened to the point where the threats escalated after the arrest and release of the independent lawyer Yaremis Flores.
At first I came to think there were prejudices and paranoia were it not that one of the most aggressive neighbors we had, said threateningly:
“The U.S. blockade doesn’t put ’this’ (the country) bad, but the internal counterrevolution!,” he shouted at the top of his voice while he stared at me, and I tried to calm my husband down.
We don’t allow ourselves to be provoked and so everything was left the same. That same day, around 11:00 in the morning, some GECAL workers, friends of the neighbor who shouted at us, began to walk around and put boards in the old backyard of the house, which adjoins the bathroom window and the kitchen. I talked to them beside the toilet and asked them to please not put anything there because that area is under litigation, the bathroom window is really low, they have plenty of room elsewhere, etc.
The request was what they needed for the crowd to grow and to begin uttering threats of hitting me. They even said that if I dared to call the police, the punishment would be worse. Good thing I decided to be quiet and move back just in time. That way, I couldn’t even see their faces, but we heard the shouting and the insults.
Although we carried on with the childcare activities, at dusk I made a complaint at the Aguilera police station. What goes around comes around… a few weeks later I refused when they tried to convince me to drop the charges.
So, a sad 2012 Christmas came to my family. As a complement, I had an interview with the municipal director of the Ministry of Labor and Social Security in Diez de Octubre, where I had the opportunity to explain the reason for the prestige achieved by the daycare centers served by ACDEI. This academic year 2012-2013, the first group of preschoolers started school successfully.
The official asked me repeatedly how the idea came up to establish private nursery education. She said that officials of the Diez de Octubre Municipality of Education claim that I must go through the pre-school learning methodology. No surprise if it’s true what they say. Lying is a very popular business tool in this island. Our project is based on an NGO, the Cuban Association for the Development of Primary Education (ACDEI), which is about to be approved. At the headquarters of the Ministry of Justice (MINJUS) they angrily asked me the same thing:
“How did you get that idea?”
More surprises cause us to worry:
1. The children learn in appropriate conditions.
2. The owners and their employees gradually become educators.
3. We don’t charge for our services to the daycare centers.
4. That there be advocacy and outreach to the citizens of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
In Cuba, being a Cuban citizen and defending our rights irritates the State. Any state entity thinks they are better than the ordinary citizen.
Gecal’s attitude is no exception, it is the rule. Months ago the police had explained to that constructive government group, in particular its director, that until the sentence is carried out in that area they can not perform any activities, or use it as their own. A bad memory? Yes, particularly when the applicant is a civil society activist who speaks to the public about the reports of the Committee on the Rights of the Child.
Regarding the continuing threats, it’s not long until we get used to it. The verb “to threaten” is used a lot in Cuban society.
He or she threatens,
We are all threatened…daily.
Translated by: Michelle Eddy
January 27 2013