SEMlac reports

SEMlac reports (323)


The Inter-American Human Rights Commission has asked the Haitian government to try those involved in crimes under Jean Claude Duvalier’s dictatorship in the 1971-1986 period.

“The State has agreed to prosecute those who committed human rights violations and has for this purpose requested technical support from the Commission,” said Sylvie Bajeux, a spokesperson for the Ecumenical Human Rights Center, the Kay Fanm Women’s Association, the Haitian Women’s Movement for Education and Development, and the National Human Rights Network.

She told SEMlac that some people believe that Duvalier cannot be tried under immunity standards.

“The Commission has made it clear, however, that extrajudicial executions and forced disappearances under the regime are considered crimes against humanity that are still punishable and cannot be covered by amnesty,” she indicated.


Local actress Eslinda Núñez has just been granted the 2011 National Film Award. This is the first time a woman has been given the prize since it was instituted in 2003.

She was selected from among 17 candidates, in recognition of her outstanding career.

Speaking at the award ceremony, last June 11 in Havana, she dedicated the prize to late filmmaker Humberto Solás, with whom she worked on numerous occasions.

Miguel Barnet, president of the National Association of Cuban Artists and Writers (UNEAC), highlighted her remarkable talent and significant contribution to the local motion picture industry.


Daniel A. Martirena, a 27-year-old electrical engineer living in the province of Santiago de Cuba, 860 kilometers east of Havana, happened to change his mind about gender issues only a year ago, when he got involved in training and awareness-raising actions by the University of Oriente's Gender Study Group.

"I thought I had never hurt or abused my wife. I let her go out alone and tried to make plans together and have the same friends. I found out, at one of these courses, that such a thing was not right," he told SEMlac.


The Group was officially established by the local School of Psychology in 2006, but efforts along these lines had got underway much earlier.

"We started working on gender relations and violence in 1995, four years after Psychology became a specialty at the University of Oriente," said Group coordinator Rosa M. Reyes.


Adolescence is a period of dramatic change in life. Typical of some teenagers at this stage, violent behavior needs to be redressed as soon as possible by family and school.

It may cover nicknaming offending classmates, and even resorting to physical actions like pushing.

Jacqueline Montes, a psychologist who conducted a research work along these lines at the Orlando Pantoja Agronomy Polytechnic Institute in Las Tunas, a province 667 kilometers east of Havana, highlighted the importance of identifying, recognizing and dealing with these actions.

Involving 29 boys aged 15 to 17, the work showed that deeply rooted patriarchal traditions help reproduce the idea that some people rule and some others obey in society.


"The media usually portray women as victims or exotic/erotic beings. The way they reflect women's beauty runs counter to human diversity," said Isabel Moya, a local reporter specialized in gender and communication.

She delivered a lecture along these lines at a Young Filmmakers Exhibition last May 27, at the Cuban Film Institute in Havana.

"Such an approach is very much in line with hegemonistic patriarchal traditions," she added.

"The media rely on them simply because they are part and parcel of mainstream discourse," she indicated.


Upon a call by local civil-society organizations, over a thousand people gathered together last May 12-13 in Villa Maria City (Cordoba province) to demand an end to white salve traffic.

They issued a strong declaration indicating that the Ministry of Justice mechanism to combat traffic and assist victims is far from effective, as it is made up of officials who have been collaborating with traffic networks and/or performing very poorly.

The document also voices concern over the fact that most victimizers have managed to go unpunished. Out of 2,000 cases, only 20 victimizers have been prosecuted, and no civil servant has ever been condemned.

Mercedes Assorati, general coordinator of El Otro Foundation’s Program against White Slave Traffic, told SEMlac that such a situation clearly shows that the State is not dealing with highly profitable organized crime in an appropriate manner.


“Local authorities ignore our realities. We kindly ask them to visit our communities, talk to us, and become familiar with our economic and social problems,” said Andrea Campos, a representative of the Regional Federation of Ashaninka, Nomatsiguenga and Kakinte Women (FREMANK).

Over 50 women leaders, wearing typical dresses and accompanied by their children, arrived in Lima from the central jungle to participate in a Public Hearing on the Current Situation of Indigenous Women, last April 29, at the Congress Building.

They represented historically excluded population groups, explained why the land is so vital to them, and demanded the immediate implementation of national and international labor standards.

On December 2, 1993, the Peruvian Congress signed and ratified ILO Agreement N° 169, which promotes respect for and participation by indigenous communities in national economic, social, political and cultural life.


Susana Roque is a 35-year-old lawyer. She would very much like to have a baby, but she has decided to give priority to her doctoral course.

Her husband and her mother-in-law have told her on numerous occasions that they will always be there to help her out.

"He already got his PhD. It is my turn now," she stressed.

Most Cuban women professionals think very much like her. The Global Fertility Rate (GFR) on the island stood at 1.7 children per woman in 2009, but the population replacement rate (one daughter per woman, at least) has been extremely low in the last 30 years.


Women need to have their rights, conflicts, experiences and life stories fully revealed, regardless of their actual situation (ordinary women, victims of gender violence, company managers, decision-makers in urban or rural areas, and the like).

Participants in the 8th International Meeting on Women in the 21st Century, which was recently held in the Cuban capital, strongly favored the idea of removing cultural traditions that associate women with second-class citizens, providing them with further training, launching new awareness-raising campaigns, and promoting successful experiences.

Organized by the University of Havana Women's Chair and the Federation of Cuban Women, the event was attended by experts of Cuba, Spain, the United States, Colombia, Guatemala, and Chile.

"Most of the papers to be presented here highlight the need to make problems affecting women visible and come up with effective solutions," said Chair president Norma Vasallo at the opening ceremony.


Erlinda Yero is the milkmaid in Pozo Cuadrado, a village nine kilometers away from Bayamo, the capital city in the eastern province of Granma.

Every day, she is the first one to get up and switch on the kitchen light to make coffee in the entire neighborhood. She then walks 1.5 kilometers to get to the cattle-raising farm where she works.

There are 67 buffalo cows and a stud awaiting her. After she milks the cows, she takes them all to graze under the sun, morning and afternoon. She calls them by their names: Pancho, the stud; Little One, Conga, Marisol, and the like. They are docile, but hate strangers.

As the farm is surrounded by rice growing fields, she has to keep an eye on them because they love not only the plants, but also the water that helps them cool down.

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