Circles Robinson Online

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Location: Havana, Cuba

is a blog to give a fresh angle on a fascinating and beautiful Caribbean Island country that, despite being relatively small and with only 11 million people, has been a major player in American and world politics for a half century. I also suggest you try

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Cuba Takes On Domestic Violence

By Circles Robinson

This year the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women falls on a Sunday, but it’s not a day off for the victims or those people who fight against an evil that crosses all borders and ignores social class, race, creed or age.

In Cuba, the day is being observed by many organizations and a recently released documentary titled La Deseada Justicia (The Desired Justice) brings the issue home. Several Cuban civic groups and public institutions are stepping up their efforts to address the problem.

The film, by Cuban director Lizette Vila, artfully intertwines the testimonies of seven Cuban survivors of domestic violence and is being shown at special functions prior to its screening at the Havana New Latin American Cinema Festival set for December 4-14.

Many of those who have seen the 35-minute documentary have said they hope to see it shown on Cuban TV where it would reach an even wider public. Moving, powerful, sensitive and heart rendering are some of the adjectives used to describe it. The film is also seen as encouragement for more women to emerge from their cycle of violence.

Coordinated by the Oscar Arnulfo Romero Group for Reflection and Solidarity of Havana, the documentary was made to help break the silence and stimulate discussion on a thorny issue that in many countries still gets confused as being a private matter rather than a societal or public health concern.

“We know that in our society the violence indicators are not as dramatic as in many others, but it is present and if we can’t totally eradicate it we need to at least diminish it as much as possible,” states a publication of the Cuban organization.

A week long campaign “for a culture of peace to prevent gender violence” concludes tomorrow, but the effort to visualize the problem of domestic violence in Cuba and address it more effectively is only beginning to pick up steam and will continue year round.

“To deny that there is violence in our society means ignoring the issue instead of confronting it in its entire destructive dimension,” notes the Oscar Romero Group. “The Cuban revolution, based on deeply humanistic values, can only improve by the active and aware participation of society. Learning to live without violence is a challenge of any civilized society.”

International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women was first marked on November 25, 1981. The date recalls the brutal assassination in 1960, of the three Mirabal sisters, political activists in the Dominican Republic, on orders of Dictator Rafael Trujillo.

On December 17, 1999 the UN General Assembly, officially recognized the date by adopting Resolution 54/134 and invited governments, international organizations and NGOs to organize activities designated to raise public awareness of the problem.

Monday, November 05, 2007

US Blockade on Cuba Seems Endless

By Circles Robinson

A popular proverb in Cuba states that “nothing goes on forever” but the saying is beginning to look outdated when it comes to the United States and Cuba.

Instead of rapproachement, the US blockade imposed on the island by the Kennedy administration and maintained for nearly five decades has never been more stricktly enforced than under George W. Bush.

Meanwhile, Cuba, with its first world life expectancy, now has around 2,500 residents at least 100 years old, unheard of when the blockade began.

Both the US and Cuban governments remain obstinate in their goals. The US seeks to bring down the Cuban revolution and Cuba to resist.

The United Nations General Assembly voted 184 to 4 on October 30, (US, Israel, Marshall Islands and Palau dissenting) telling the US to lift its blockade. It was the sixteenth consecutive year the US policy was admonished, each year by a growing margin.

Even governments from the European Union and elsewhere that are critical of Cuba’s socialist system vote against the blockade because its extra-territorial tentacles violate international laws and their own trade freedoms.


In the month leading up to the annual UN vote, Cuba’s media ran constant reports and statements from the country’s leaders and people at workplaces on how the blockade has hampered their efforts, keeping the country from reaching its full potential in science, health care, commerce, industry, etc.

Then, a week before the vote, the White House made it clear it would once again ignore the UN resolution. In fact, President Bush put forth a plan to further tighten the noose.

The US State Department had already spent millions of taxpayers’ money to draft detailed plans for administering a post-revolution Cuba, something Washington hopes to speed up.

Curiously, both countries will have general elections in 2008; Cuba in the spring and the US in the fall. Cuba may have a new president depending on the health of Fidel Castro and the US will choose a successor to George W. Bush.

In the lead up to the Cuban vote, resistance to US hostility of any kind, economic or military, will be a common denominator among all potential candidates.

In the US, while Cuba is not one of the top campaign issues, the candidates with enough money to have a chance to win will take turns at Cuba bashing, especially aimed at securing votes in Florida where the powerful Cuban exile lobby is entrenched.

Can the blockade last a century? Perhaps, Will more Cubans make it to 100 years despite it? That seems a certainty.

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