In Cuba there are two ship sinkings that captured public opinion. One of them (1994), the ferryboat 13 de Marzo, was presented in 1996 to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (1,2,3). The other occurred years earlier (1980), known in the press as the Slaughter of Rio Canimar (4,5,6), which merits investigation by the Cuban government despite the passing of years, because the facts have not been clarified.
The media reported that the Canimar River pleasure boat was carrying between 70 and 100 passengers, including children. The incident (7) was reportedly published in a three-line note on an inside page of Giron, a Matanzas provincial newspaper, which described it as an unsuccessful attempt to leave the country illegally.
The ferry “Sewol” (8) sank in April 2014 leaving more than 300 dead, mostly children. The captain and 14 crew members of “Sewol” have been brought to trial. The South Korean government recovered more than 285 bodies (9) after the catastrophe off the coast of South Korea.
In the sinkings of the two Cuban boats mentioned above, the role of the police authority, the measures taken to administer justice, and whether the bodies of the victims were recovered, is unknown.
The number of Cuban rafters under age 18 who have disappeared in the sea crossing is deemed unknown, but due to the difficult economic situation facing Cuba and the difficulties confronting citizens to receive a tourist visa, it would be alarming if the casualties increase.
Every July, thousands of voices beg the Committee on the Rights of the Child and the experts from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime to ask the Cuban government, in particular the National Assembly of People’s Power (Parliament), to:
1. Investigate the incident in Rio Canimar involving the pleasure boat “XX Anniversario” and explain the measures taken before the sinkings of that boat and the “13 de Marzo” ferry boat.
2. Comment on the creation of a comprehensive system of data collection (CRC.C.CUB.CO.2, Cuba. 2011 par. 15, p. 4) to facilitate the review of the situation of all deceased Cuban boys and girls, including children who disappeared in other circumstances.
3. Comment on the implementation of the Committee’s recommendations (CRC.C.CUB.CO.2, Cuba. 2011 par.37 and 38 p. 8), in particular that concerning cooperation with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on violence against children, and other UN organizations specializing in the subject of violence against children.
4. Explain whether the Committee’s recommendation (CRC.C.CUB.CO.2, Cuba. 2011 par. 12 and 13) is appropriate to ensure the independent, comprehensive, and systematic oversight of the rights of Cuban children.
The Virtues of the Good Place
Waves, lights, and Cuban angels fly over a South Korean vessel filled with almond-eyed cherubs. A bandage-covered face watches in silence, while tears grow fearful. The sword and the scales rust in the Cuban seabed where droplets of blood mix with tourists, missiles, and sugar. (10)
1. OAS. Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. (October 16, 1996) Report No. 47/96. Case 11.436. Victims of the Tugboat “13 de Marzo” vs. Cuba. Available at: https://www.cidh.oas.org/annualrep/96span/Cuba11436.htm.
2. The Cuban Government did not respond to Confidential Report N1 16/96, approved by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights at its 921st regular session.
3. Carlos A. Montaner. (July 14, 2014). The night of murderers. Available at: http://www.elblogdemontaner.com/la-noche-de-los-asesinos/
4. Karel Becerra. (July 6, 2014). The massacre of Canímar River: 34th anniversary. Available at: http://www.karelbecerra.com/2014/07/06/la-masacre-del-rio-canimar-34-aniversario/
5. OAS. Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. CHAPTER VII. Recommendations of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. 3. The Commission recommends to the Member States that they delineate the role of the Armed Forces and security in the context of the rule of law. Available at: https://www.cidh.oas.org/annualrep/98span/Capitulo%207.htm
6. Tomas Regalado (September 11, 1985). More at Radio Martí. http://www.sigloxxi.org . Available at: http://baracuteycubano.blogspot.cz/2010/07/cuba-una-masacre-casi-olvidada-del.html
7. Occurred July 6, 1980.
10. INTERPOL (2014) AGAINST ORGANIZED CRIME. INTERPOL TRAFFICKING AND Counterfeiting Casebook 2014. Available: http://www.interpol.int/Media/Files/Crime-areas/Trafficking-in-Illicit-Goods/Against-Organized-Crime-INTERPOL-Trafficking-and-Counterfeiting-Casebook . #Smuggling, #North Korea, #Cuba, #Panama, #missiles, #weapons. THERE’S A MISSILE IN THE SUGAR. 2013. 92. pp.- CNN coverage of the Chong Chon Gang http://cnn.it/leG4eQN .
“Safety does not just happen: it is the result of collective consensus and public investment. To our children, the most vulnerable citizens in any society, we owe a life free of violence and fear.”
13 July 2015
Committee on the Rights of the Child Queries the Government of Cuba Regarding the Sale of Children and Child Pornography
14 September through 2 October, 2015
22 June, 2015
English, French and Spanish Only
Preliminary, Unedited Version
Review of States Parties’ Reports
List of questions relative to the briefing presented by Cuba by virtue of Article 8, Paragraph 1, of the Optional Protocol of the Convention for the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography.
It is requested of the State Party that it present in writing additional and updated information (maximum 15 pages), if possible, prior to 20 August, 2015.
In the dialogue with the State Party, the Committee can address all aspects of the rights of the child referred to in the Optional Protocol.
1. Please provide recent statistical data for children and adolescents up to the age of 18 years (disaggregated by sex, age, ethnic origin, and rural or urban areas), regarding the number of:
a) Cases of the sale of children and adolescents, child prostitution and child pornography, as well as other forms of exploitation such as child sex tourism, and actions taken, including the prosecution and punishment of those responsible;
b) Children and adolescents who have been victims of human trafficking, and of the type of exploitation for which such children have been the object of trafficking, including for the purposes of sexual exploitation, transfer of organs for profit, illegal adoption, pornography and engagement of the child in forced labor (as defined in Article 3, Paragraph 1 of the Optional Protocol), and actions taken, including the prosecution and punishment of those responsible;
c) Children and adolescents who have been victims of crimes described in the Optional Protocol, who have received assistance for their physical and psychological recovery, social reintegration, and/or have received payment of compensation or reparation for damages they have suffered, in accordance with the provisions of Article 9, Paragraphs 3 and 4, of the Optional Protocol.
2. Please provide information on whether the State Party intends to adopt a specific action plan regarding the sale of children, child prostitution, and the utilization of children in pornography. In addition, please provide information about the existence of plans at the provincial or local level that have been adopted with the aim of implementing the Optional Protocol. Please provide the Committee an update on the process to adopt the National Plan for Children for the period of 2015-2018, and provide information as to whether this plan includes lines of action for the implementation of the Optional Protocol.
3. Please describe the functions and specific competencies of the Offices for the Protection of Citizens’ Rights of the Prosecutor General of the Republic, referred to in Paragraph 18 of the State Party Report (CRC/C/OPSC/CUB/1), with respect to the implementation of the Optional Protocol. In relation to the information provides in Paragraph 19 of the State Party Report, please clarify if the State Party has initiated some process to establish an organ responsible for coordinating public policies on childhood and adolescence.
4. Please provide information on the human, financial and technical resources specifically allocated to the implementation of the Optional Protocol.
5. Please provide information regarding the current coverage of the Centers for Evaluation and Attention to Minors, in particular, in rural and remote areas. Please equally provide more detailed information on the specific actions and the results of your effort to protect children and adolescents who are victims of violence, live in institutions, afro-descendants, and refugees. Please further provide information on the measures adopted to protect adolescents between the ages of 16 and 18 years who are at risk of becoming victims of the crimes referred to in the Optional Protocol.
6. In reference to the information provided in Paragraphs 141 and 144 in the State Party Report regarding the fact that more girls than boys are victims of cases of prostitution and child pornography, please inform the Committee on strategies aimed at raising the awareness of adolescents regarding their rights and of the crimes referred to in the Optional Protocol, as well as other measures taken to combat gender stereotypes, and promote services that take into account and are adapted to the needs of female and male adolescents in sexual and reproductive health education through adequate information and services.
7. Please provide specific information on cooperative projects between the State party and the private sector–including the tourism sector, entertainment venues and sports clubs–which have the aim of preventing the sale of children, child prostitution, and child pornography in relation to such activities.
8. With reference to Paragraphs 70 to 72 of State Party Report with respect to the criminal liability of legal persons, please indicate the number of prosecutions and sentencings for criminal liability of private enterprises in relation to the crimes defined in Article 3, Paragraph 1 of the Optional Protocol.
9. Please indicate if sex tourism is expressly prohibited in the national legislation, as well as sanctions applicable to the particulars and legal persons involved in child sex tourism. Please also explain in greater detail the administrative measures mentioned in Paragraph 268 of the State Party Report to combat child sex tourism. In addition, please provide more information on the number of cases and the types of disciplinary measures that have been applied in cases of child sex tourism in the country.
10. Please indicate if there exists a plan to classify as a crime the possession of child pornography and the commission of sex crimes via the Internet.
11. Please provide information on the measures enacted by the State Party to ensure that victims of the crimes contained in the Optional Protocol are not treated as criminals, or stigmatized.
12. Please indicate if it is possible for children and adolescents who are victims of the crimes referred to in the Optional Protocol, to access complaint mechanisms and procedures on their own account. Please also give details on the results and difficulties that could arise in the application of the various Instructions issued by the Supreme Popular Tribunal, which are cited in Paragraphs 158, 166, 167 and 182 of the State Party Reports, related to the application of the principle of best interests of the child in the criminal justice system.
13. Please provide information regarding activities carried out in “Diagnostic and Guidance Centers” aimed specifically at addressing the rights of female and male children and adolescents who are victims of the crimes described in the Optional Protocol, its principal challenges, and results obtained in terms of the restoration of the rights of children who have been victims.
14. Please inform the Committee regarding strategies that have been adopted to guarantee access to services of rehabilitation, reintegration and compensation for children and adolescents who are victims of violations of any of the crimes described in the Optional Protocol.
To better understand the Committee’s questions, it is recommended to read the Cuban State Party Report,
The Civil Society Report is not published (ACDEI NGO) so that the reader will not be an object of reprisals, and can visit or live in Cuba in peace. To suffer reprisals, threats to one’s security, including to their families, and be subjected to several hours of interrogation and documentation at Jose Martí Airport, is not pleasant. For more information, please contact the ACDEI Director, Mrs. Dora Leonor Mesa Crespo. The Cuban state is the promoter of the creation of the ratified and binding protocol: CRC-OP-SC — Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution, and Child Pornography.
Translated By: Alicia Barraqué Ellison
3 July 2015
In economics it’s not enough that ideas or conclusions be based on concrete data; to be effective they must be shared by society. In other fields of knowledge, such as medicine, it is enough merely that the doctor knows the remedy in order for the patient to accept it.
In economics it doesn’t work that way, even if there are second or third opinions in agreement. In economics it is essential that public opinion agrees with the views of the experts in order for them to be applied. Dissemination and acceptance of economic ideas is absolutely essential to their success.
In these times of crisis (not just economic) it seems that ideas are systematically imposed by slogans. The aim of this article is to highlight the principles on which there is agreement among economists and, for the other issues, to appeal for reflection and dedication to the task of finding new common ground. All of this with the intention of trying to solve the specific problems that now require solutions.
As a complement to “The Ten Principles of Economics” by Mankiw, or rather, to support or confirm them, we present “The Rules of the Game of Economics,” taken from the fourth edition (2000) of the book Economics. Theory and Policy by Francisco Mochón. As you can see, the similarity between the “principles” and the “rules” is apparent.
The Rules of the Game of Economics
—We all want more, but we have to choose with appropriate criteria.
—For all economic actors, the cost of a thing is what has to be given up to get it.
—If we want to get more with the resources available, we must turn to specialization and trade.
—Economic activity is usually best organized by transactions freely made in the markets.
—The public sector can sometimes correct and improve the way the markets act.
—Economic actors respond to incentives presented.
—To understand economics one must know how economists carry out their analysis.
—Economists seek not only to understand reality, but sometimes also to change it.
—Economics must simplify reality in order to comprehend it: the models.
We can deduce therefore that, if on the issues identified there is agreement, then on those not covered by the principles and the rules there is no degree of consensus. Changes in the theory and practice of the science of economics are constantly under discussion.
The economics section of any bookstore contains a surprising number of books trying to explain the economic crisis and how to get out of it. The same is true of the opinion articles from newspapers and magazines.
A large number of well-founded economics blogs are available on the internet. The information at our disposal is so boundless that merely pre-selecting sources or authors to consult becomes a problem.
Economists should make an effort to explain, in the clearest and most informative way possible, why on some points there is widespread consensus. They should also should identify the points on which no such agreement exists, and explain why that is so. And all of this under the umbrella of the phrase from Borges that is so easy to relate to, “there may be enemies of my opinions, but if I wait a while, I may also be the enemy of my opinions.”
Excerpts from the article “Principles Generally Accepted in Economics” by Juan Francisco García Aranda. Extoikos No. 7, page 81. Available here.
A new way of thinking: 2 x 2 = 7
The advantage of economics is that it is a discipline in which a few ideas can take you a long way. You can’t say that about, for example, the study of physics or Japanese.
Economics has virtues of both politics and science. It is truly a social science. “Its subject is society, that is, how individuals choose to live and how they interrelate. And it brings the subject matter into focus with the dispassion of a science, applying the scientific method to policy issues, in order to make advances in the fundamental challenges facing any society.”
A worldwide reference manual exists, the book Principles of Economics by Gregory Mankiw. A special published by the Spanish newspaper El Pais in January 2005, to mark the thousandth edition of its Sunday Supplement on Economics, included a section entitled “Ten Titles for Two Decades.” The first edition of this book was published in 1998 to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of the most popular college textbook ever written, Economics, by Paul Samuelson, one of those rare scientists who can easily communicate with the lay public.
The publisher commissioned a new textbook from Mankiw with the aim of making it the “Samuelson” of the coming decades. Mankiw is described as a “neo-Keynesian” for his “new Keynesian” or “new monetarist” economics.
In the preface to his book Mankiw recounts that he grew up in a family where politics was often discussed at dinner. “The pros and cons of the various solutions for solving the problems of society aroused fervent debates. But in school I leaned toward the sciences. Politics always seemed to me vague, speculative, and lost in subjectivity, while science was analytical, systematic, and objective. As political debates were continuing without reaching any conclusion, science was advancing.” His first course, Introduction to Economics, opened his eyes to a new way of thinking.
Mankiw’s “Ten Principles of Economics”:
—People face tradeoffs.
—The cost of something is what you give up to get it.
—Rational people think at the margin.
—People respond to incentives.
—Trade can make everyone better off.
—Markets are usually a good way to organize economic activity.
—The state can sometimes improve market outcomes.
—A country’s standard of living depends on its ability to produce goods and services.
—Prices rise when the government prints too much money.
—Society faces a short-run tradeoff between inflation and unemployment.
Note: This post is dedicated to Professor Gilberto Lugo Rodríguez of the Interamerican University of Puerto Rico and to Abel Mirabal, the best colleague in the Microeconomics course. Havana, May 1, 2015.
Excerpts from the article “Principles Generally Accepted in Economics” by Juan Francisco García Aranda. Extoikos No. 7, page 81. Available here
Extracts from the article “Organ Trafficking: A Dark and Atrocious Business”
By Mónica López Ferrado
Users of transplant tourism come from all over the world. “As long as it’s offered there will be demand,” laments Luc Noel. From his office in the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva, he directs international efforts to eradicate the commerce in organs. Many times a transplant is the only alternative for someone. Furthermore, survival rates are 45 years for a kidney, 38 for a liver, and 29 for a heart. But this success has created its own demons: the difference between theoretical possibilities and the scarce availability of organs.
Ten percent of the world’s transplants come from illegal commerce, according to WHO’s statistics. Countries like Pakistan, India, Philippines, China, Egypt, Rumania, Moldavia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia and Costa Rica facilitate organ transplants for the ill in rich countries.
Political prisoners, people who live in extreme poverty, or political refugees are exploited as the best source of organs for patient-tourists. Kidneys are sold the most. Also portions of the liver, heart, and lungs in countries where commerce is done with cadavers, as occurs in China.
“The market in organs benefits only rich people,” says Luc Noel. On his agenda there is one date in May: the General Assembly of WHO will vote on a resolution to govern the global effort against transplant tourism. “We need the collaboration of professionals, governments, and scientific societies.”
During the international summit on transplant tourism and organ trafficking, convened in 2008 by the International Transplant Society and the International Nephrology Society, 152 representatives of public institutions and medical and scientific organizations from 48 countries reached a consensus in the Declaration of Istanbul.
Among other things, it states that organ trafficking and transplant tourism violate the principles of equality, justice, and respect for human dignity and should be prohibited, and the declaration urges that every government create a legal framework that includes penalties for those who participate in these activities and which prohibits all type of advertising and offers of organs.
This declaration also touches on the delicate question of compensation for the living donors. Always based on the principle that an organ can’t have a price, it admits that donors can be compensated for the damage that can be caused by their altruistic decisions.
There are supporters in the United States of the buying and selling of organs with oversight, which would permit, according to them, an increase in donations and a dismantling of the illegal business. “I completely disagree; ethically, the human body can’t be an object of commercialization under any concept,” concludes Matesanz from the ONT.
“Those who argue against this consider that in a modern society you can’t permit someone in a situation of poverty to have to sell an organ. Those who argue in favor say that the State should regulate it. One of every 3,500 donors can die; it’s the same risk that we all take of dying in a car accident,” explains Guirado, a nephrologist with the Puigvert Foundation in Barcelona.
Francis Delmonico, an assessor with the World Health Organization and president of the Organ TransplantProcurement Network, has met with governments like China or the Philippines with the goal of resolving the legal vacuum that makes this commerce possible. And to help them to establish their own donation programs.
“The commerce in organs threatens to destroy the noble legacy of the transplant,” says Delmonico. He explains that in China, for example, in 2006, they extracted organs from some 4,000 executed prisoners, which made a total of 8,000 kidneys and 3,000 livers, principally for foreign patients.
The Chinese government approved in March 2007 an order penalizing this practice. They closed three hospitals, but they don’t have control over everything. And even less over the military health centers. Delmonico is sure that patients continue to travel to China.
Translated by Regina Anavy
A snow roller is a rare meteorological phenomenon in which large snowballs are formed as they are blown along the ground by wind. Unlike snowballs made by people, snow rollers are typically cylindrical in shape, and require special conditions to form. [Source: Wikipedia]
The Machel Report With Recommendations for the Armed Forces
When speaking of childhood and military matters, it is indispensable to refer to the report from the expert Graça Machel, who assigns to the world’s governments the responsibility of providing resources and education in human rights to judges, police, security personnel, and the armed forces.
These training programs should be developed with the consultation and expertise of the International Committee of the Red Cross and agencies of the United Nations such as the UN Refugee Agency, and should be disseminated broadly. The Machel Report advocates for humanitarian organizations to assist States [the term for “governments” in UN documents] in the education of children with respect to their rights through programs of study and other pertinent methods.
The initial report on Cuba (2011), in referring to the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict (OPAC), indicates that in the programs of study in military learning centers can be found lessons concerning human rights and humanitarian law. However, the published information on the curriculum of these Cuban military schools is very terse and makes no reference to this topic.
In general, the government web pages report that the students are educated to master the material and be prepared as future officers of the Revolutionary Armed Forces (RAF) and the Ministry of the Interior (MININT). The lesson plans and programs of study are reported to be similar to those of the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Cuba (MINED) for high school education, adequate to the specific and vocational interests of military life.
The expert Graça Machel’s recommendations are of particular importance in the current Cuban context because of the Island’s geographic and social situation. Cuba often suffers from natural disasters associated with hurricanes and earthquakes, which can create many victims and internal displacements.
The List of Issues and Questions relative to the Examination of the Initial Report on Cuba with regard to the Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict was completed by the Government of Cuba and is available to those interested on the Web page of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Translated by: Alicia Barraqué Ellison
24 April 2015
Dora Leonor Mesa, 24 April 2015 — The photos of Cuban President Raúl Castro conversing with his U.S. counterpart Barack Obama during the Seventh Summit of the Americas are still appearing on the principal pages of the world’s most important newspapers.
Images of Cuban volunteers who, risking their lives, went to fight the fatal Ebola virus in Africa, those who help disaster victims in Haiti and other places, i.e. Brazil, Pakistan, Chile, etc., have also been given prime placement in the broadcast media and the most prestigious news agencies.
In Panama, during the forums of the Seventh Summit of the Americas, Cuban men and women of the State-sponsored civil society also appeared on the front pages of every known communication medium in the world.
These fervent social actors achieved unqualified success in defending their ideas. They took part in public acts wherein they expressed their opinions with yelling, vulgarities, threats and physical violence. The devotion of these social activists is so intense that they are holier than His Holiness, Pope Francis, himself.
To be fair, it must be clarified that in Panama they behaved moderately compared with how, back home, they treat human rights defenders and the Ladies in White with their deadly gladioli.
Thanks to the show put on by the State-sponsored civil society, which the official Cuban press calls “historic participation,” millions of concerned spectators around the world discovered that the “mercenaries in the service of the Empire” are respectable Cuban citizens, besieged by raging fanatics masked as intellectuals, journalists, leaders, students….
According the newspaper, Juventud Rebelde, (1) Cuba made many contributions to the forums for young people, being that there were no mercenaries (or, “Cubans,” it is understood) present.
At the Democratic Governance and Citizen Participation meeting at the Civil Society Forum, the Cuban delegation from the governmental civil society retreated because of the presence of mercenaries. In reality, this was an excellent tactic to hide their renown ignorance of debate subjects. The sociological theories of the Frankfurt School, with Habermas at the head, are a taboo subject. The Karl Marx taught in the universities is a free version of the Theories of Conflict and so it is with many other theories and books that are not even mentioned.
The Pot Calling the Kettle Black
There are various articles published in the official Cuban press describing what comprises the real Cuban civil society (assuming a state concept). Regardless of the substantial theoretical contributions that these make to the social sciences, the very Constitution of the Republic of Cuba decrees: The Cuban nation is not under the Rule of Law.
It looks like a case of the pot calling the kettle black, given that the highest Cuban court, the Supreme Tribunal, receives “instructions” from the Council of States, other institutions, personages, etc. This is no surprise to us who live on the Island. We remain immutable if state entities and even certain very special individuals make a mockery, with total impunity, of the rulings and jurisprudence of the Supreme Tribunal. For the incredulous, it will be enough to confirm this reality by asking various individuals, reading the Cuban press, and watching national television.
Despite what happens in Cuba, the disparagement of our heroes of today and yesterday should stop. Nobody, NOBODY, has the right to defame, with self-promoting intentions, the generous and committed character of any Cuban man or woman; for we belong to one nation, even if the group we defend is offensive to others.
At this time, some of the “elect” among the participants in the forums of the Seventh Summit, are exclaiming on the Internet, in the newspapers, and on television programs:
“Oh, we were not violent! This is a manipulation of the facts by the powerful!”
Please! Save the hypocrisy. Do they really think that the whole world is like Cuba, burdened with 19th-century technology and information? (3)
The provided “cuban government-style” civil society, since its arrival in Panama, was an international embarrassment for the nation, dishonoring our heroes and luminaries of yesterday and today.
Civil Society or Troglodytes Emerging from their Caves?
They should be ashamed!
To be judged as traitors is the least they deserve.
1. Juventud Rebelde Special Team Report (21 April, 2015). We went to Panama with duffel bags of ideas. Juventud Rebelde newspaper. Print Edition. Cuba. Page 4.
2. National Assembly of the People’s Power (31 January, 2003). Constitution of the Republic of 24 February, 1975. Official Gazette of the Republic (3). Extraordinary, 7. Cuba.
Article 90. Attributes of the Council of State are:
h) impart instructions of a general character to the tribunals, via the Council of Government of the People’s Supreme Tribunal;
i) impart instructions to the General Prosecutor of the Republic;
Article 121. The tribunals constitute a system of state organs, structured with functional independence from any another, and hierarchically subordinate to the National Assembly of the People’s Power, and the Council of State…
Article 128. The General Prosecutor of the Republic comprises an organic unit subordinate only to the National Assembly of the People’s Power, and the Council of State.
The General Prosecutor of the Republic received direct instruction from the Council of State…
Chapter XV. CONSTITUTIONAL REFORM
Article 137. This Constitution can be reformed only by the National Assembly of the People’s Power via an agreement adopted in a roll-call vote, by a majority no less than two-thirds of the total number of members, except in what pertains to the political, social and economic system, whose character is irrevocably established in Chapter I, Article 3….
Article 3. Socialism and the political and social revolutionary system established in this Constitution – proven through years of heroic resistance in the face of aggressions of all types and the economic war waged by the governments of the most mighty imperialist power that has ever existed, and having demonstrated its capacity to transform the country and create a wholly new and just society – is irrevocable, and Cuba will never again return to capitalism.
3. ITU. International Telecommunication Union. Measuring the Information Society. 2012 edition. pp. 21. Available: http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/ict/publications/idi/material/2012/MIS2012 without Annex 4.pdf
In a list of 157 countries, Cuba was ranked 106 in the Development Indicators drawn up by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) in 2012. Cuba, with an average of 2.77, is the third country with the lowest information and communication technologies – ICT – development index (IDI) in Latin America, exceeded only by Honduras and Nicaragua. The ITU ranking is weighed-down – in Cuba’s case notably so – by the low level of Internet access throughout the country, which is one of the sub-indicators in the IDI. Cuba placed at 151, the fifth worst placement in the ranking.
Translated by: Alicia Barraqué Ellison
Granting Visas to those younger than 18 years old during the School Year
By Lic Dora Mesa Crespo* and Lic. Odalina Guerrero Lara*
(Mesa Crespo is the Coordinator of the Cuban Association for the Development of Child Education (CADCE), an NGO.)
(Guerrero Lara is an attorney with the NGO Cuban Legal Association)
The obligation to study is specified in Cuban law (1) long before 1989, the year in which the Convention of the Rights of Child was signed. The Convention is an international treaty of the United Nations by which the signatory states recognize the rights of those younger than 18 years old. Currently thousands of Cuban families residing in the country have Dual Nationality, which is laid out as a conflict of interests and loyalties for the holder.
The person should have nationality because this grants rights and powers to individuals, for example the power to travel overseas with a passport that vouches for belonging to a particular nation. For International Rights, an affiliation with a State is needed to invoke the exercise of rights and protection.
Any request relating to family reunification (2) made by a child or their parents to enter a State Party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, or to exit from one for purposes of family reunification, will be taken care of in a positive, humane and expeditious manner, i.e. as quickly as possible.
The States will guarantee, in addition, that the submission of such petition will not bring unfavorable consequences to the petitioners, nor to his/her family. The right to leave from any country will be subject only to those stipulated necessary restrictions that are in harmony with the rest of the rights recognized by the Convention.
The current possibilities for travel by Cuban minors (3, 4) should be analyzed at the moment that the visa is granted by the diplomatic or consular representative of the country where the person proposes to go.
Depending on the types of visa, the authorization for entry, passage or permanence in the destination State should be seen as a concession to minors if it exceeds the period of school vacations, because an absence from classes of more than that could be seen as harmful for the traveling student, as for the rest of the student body if the act is seen as discriminatory (5), infringing not only on social norms, but also internal laws (6) and international agreements.
To a certain extent, Cuba as a State Party to the Convention complies with the articles relating to Education. (7, 8) The Constitution of the Republic of Cuba establishes that education is a function of the Cuban state and is free. (9, 10) The Convention of the Rights of a Child recognizes the children as subjects of rights, but become as adults, subject to responsibilities.
Parents as representatives of minors should be concerned with what is established in the Family Code (11), which classifies as a duty the “tending to the education of their children; inculcating in them a love of study; minding their attendance at educational institution where they are enrolled, as well collaborating with the educational authorities on school plans and activities.”
Article 18 of the Convention, upon referring to parents’ responsibility in the rearing of their children, insists that “their fundamental concern will be the greater interests of the child.”
Parents should not impede their children’s enjoyment of their fundamental rights, nor leave them without direction and guidance in the use of liberty (12). For minors younger than 18 years, travel to other countries is very good. All the more reason: To study is essential.
*Translator’s Note: “Lic.” is an abbreviation of “Licenciado” or “Licenciada,” which identifies the individual as a licensed attorney.
1. Ministry of Education. Law # 680, 23 December, 1959. Comprehensive Reform of Education in Cuba. Chapter 10. Page 21. Cuba.
2. United Nations (1989) Convention of the Rights of the Child. Article 10. Page 5. Available at: http://www.unicef.org/mexico/spanish/mx_resources_texto
3. Council of State (14 January, 2013). Decree # 302. Modification of Law # 1312, “Law of Migration,” 20 September, 1976. Official Gazette of the Republic (044). Ordinary Law (1357). Cuba.
4. Council of Ministers (14 January, 2013) Decree # 305. Modification of Decree # 26, “Regulation of the Law of Migration,” 19 July, 1978. Official Gazette of the Republic (044). Ordinary Law (1360). Cuba.
5. Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989). Article 2. Page 2. Available at: http://www.unicef.org/mexico/spanish/mx_resources_textocdn.pdf
6. Ministry of Education (16 March, 2012). Ministerial Resolution # 11/2012. Educational Regulation. Official Gazette of the Republic (007) Special Law (20). Cuba. Article 19, Section H.
7. Ibid. Article 28.
8. Ibid. Article 29.
9. Council of Ministers. Law S/N of 6 June, 1961. Law of General and Free Nationalization of Education. Official Gazette of the Republic (7). Ordinary Law. Cuba. Available at: http://www.oei.es/quipu/cuba/Ley_educ.pdf
10. National Assembly (31 January, 2003). Constitution of the Republic of Cuba. 24 February, 1976. Official Gazette of the Republic (3). Special Law (7). Article 9, 35, 38, 39, 51, 103-106.
11. Idem. (15 February, 1975). Law #1289, 14 February, 1975, “Family Code.” Official Gazette of the Republic (6). Ordinary Law (71). Cuba. Article 85. Section 2.
12. Op. Cit. Article 5. Page 3.
Translated by: Alicia Barraqué Ellison, and others.
7 November 2014
The urban centers have been submitted to systematic closure since 1973, although the worse period has been under the Government of Raul Castro.
In 2012, in the Las Tunas town of Majibacoa, the People’s Power delegate Sirley Avila Leon put a face on a grave national problem: the constant reduction of schools on the part of the regime in Havana, due to, among other causes, the demographic situation, and the country’s economic reality.
Ávila León suffered all kinds of pressures when she complained about the closure of the only school in her area. Then, there were few general facts about the dismantling of one of the Castro regime’s propaganda pillars.
Today, the figures speak for themselves, even those that the National Office of Statistics conservatively publishes. According to the study group Foresight Cuba, that investigates and contextualizes the official data, the number of schools increased at the beginning of the 1960s, but decreased rapidly starting in 1973-1974.
From that moment on, there has been a systematic closure of schools, with a great acceleration since the year 2007. During the course of 2013-2014, there were 9,482 schools functioning, the study indicated, based upon government data.
Primary Schools — as much urban as rural — increased from 7,567 in the period 1958-1959, up to 15,547 in 1974-1975. “From this moment on, they started to decrease to 6,842 in the period 2013-2014. The government of Raul Castro has accelerated the closure of schools; in the period 2008-2009 there were 8,999 primary schools. ”
The languishing country
The biggest decrease was in the number of rural schools, “Now there are fewer rural schools (4,729) than in 1958, when there were 4,889″ facilities in these areas, added Foresight Cuba.
“It is something that I have seen here where I love, in the municipality of Song-La Maya (Santiago de Cuba)”, assured the ex-university professor Hergues Frandin. “For example, in La Meca, Alto Songo, they closed the school and now the children have to travel up to 8 kilometers on foot, back and forth.”
Dora Leonor Mesa, president of the independent Cuban Association for the Development of Children’s Education, indicated that many rural schools are located in remote areas, with only one or two students.
“There is an important population decrease, that influences the quantity of students of school age. In these rural areas, different levels study mixed together in the same classroom”, explained Mesa.
Foresight Cuba also remembered that in the 1990-1991 school year, there were 2,70 functioning secondary schools in the country, but since then, the number has decreased to 1,941 in the school year 2008-2009. After that, somewhere around 500 schools were closed, and in the school year 2013-2014, there were only 1,434 middle schools.
Amending Fidel Castro
The statistical series reveals that the number of higher education schools increased from 3 to 68 throughout these years.
The 3,150 universities created in the school year 2005-2006, in the context of the propaganda program known as “The Battle of Ideas”, they were also mostly closed during the 2008-2009 academic year. Today, only 122 remain.
“The enrollment in the municipal sites was reunified in central universities, due to the deficit of teachers and material conditions” said Frandin. In this case, the ex-professor indicated that “It’s a good thing that they have been removed, because it didn’t make sense to have universities in the municipalities”.
In summary, and taking into account that some facilities have been closed because of being in very bad condition, Dora Leonor Mesa pointed out that “Cuba really never had good schools”.
“A good classroom should count on technology and capable professors, as well as friendly conditions for the child. That does not exist in Cuba”, she concludes.
Michel Suarez | Madrid | 15 Oct 2014
Translated by: BW
14 November 2014
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