Cuba debates constitutional reform: Although it is not the heart of the matter

Marriage between people of the same sex and not only between man and woman, still promotes debates, together with other defining issues in the constitutional draft all Cubans are debating today.

In the last few days, at least via journalistic reports mainly from the TV, the topic of the marriage between people -without specifying man and woman- seems to be generating less criteria than at the beginning of the debates of the draft Constitution in which all Cubans are participating.

Nevertheless, in late August, PhD Mariela Castro, director of the National Center for Sex Education (Cenesex) stated her opinion on the social media about that article 68 of the draft Constitution, which defines marriage as the unity agreement between two people without clarifying their sex.

“Cuba has been criticized for falling to progress enough in its legislative agenda to protect the rights of LGBT people. The political will to move forward in these topics is expressed in the new constitutional draft. “Now, those who oppose our country vision try to mix up and feed prejudices and ignorance to sabotage this transcendental process. The draft constitution far exceeds the current document.

“Marriage is a right that cannot be denied to LGBT people, not only because it is discriminatory but also for its negative political consequences and contrary to the emancipating spirit of the Revolution. Obviously, our people need more information and arguments. We should be more active in the media. Let us not be wrong again, because ingenuities are paid with high prices”.

Thus warned on Facebook the also deputy to the National Assembly of People’s Power (Cuban Parliament). And her message quickly went viral generating criteria for and against.

Among those endorsers of what Mariela said, Michel Mesa Pulido commented: “I know this a very strong issue for a purely macho society but let us give all the people the opportunity to unite with those they deem appropriate, the important thing is to be happy and to contribute to make this society greater, it does not matter whether marriage is equal or unequal, the human being is the important thing”.

For his part, Rafael Suárez Suárez recalled that “everything changes; earlier it was considered improper for a woman to work, to be a leader, for a man to collaborate in the household chores, for a woman to earn more money than a man, for a white man to marry a black woman. What should really exist is the right to choose, that they all can get married or not, because there may have gays who do not want to do it, but by choice, not by impediment, that law does not harm your rights at all, you marry whomever you wish, let others live their life with the same freedom as you live yours”.

The Cenesex director widened what this cybernaut said: “It was also deemed improper for women, dark skinned people, elderly people or with disabilities, sick people, countryside people or poor people to have the same rights. Marriage and family concepts were created according to dominant interests without respecting human realities much more varied than those imposed. As humanity progresses in the achievement of its rights, these concepts evolve and are more inclusive and fairer. No matter whether you like it or not, understand it or not, we are born with rights and states have the responsibility to protect them. That’s the main role of the constitution and its reform”.

Everybody does not favor this type of unities, among them, José Luis Mosqueda, who clearly and concisely states his criterion: “…with all the respect that this staff deserves, I do not agree with the fact that two men or two women can marry, that was always deemed improper and I still deem it the same. Greetings”.

I find interesting the message posted on FB by Rogelio Collado, who considers that “one should not count on these prejudices when deciding on people’s rights. I do not get tired repeating that if we had waited to eradicate racism and chauvinism so the rights of black people and women were respected in Cuba, there would still exist schools for blacks and women wouldn’t be strongly represented in all spheres of the national life. The constitutional process is very good, but I still believe that the topics relating to the human rights of any social group should not depend on the opinion of the majority, all the more so when it is about the rights of a so-called ‘minority’. A lot has been done as regards sex education and respect for diversity in the last few years and that’s commendable, but we should not be over-confident, prejudices are deeply rooted in our society”.

Further ahead, the same forum member José Luis Mosqueda added new arguments: “We are not talking about the same topic, the rights of people, women, men, either black or white, to live together and to share those rights as it has been done in Cuba since the triumph of the Revolution is one thing, and another is that men marry men and women marry women, that is not natural, no matter who states it”.

After thanking all the posted criteria, for and against, Mariela Castro pointed out as a summary: “In order to continue doing revolution and to achieve a fairer society, we should move forward in these topics. It is not fair that heterosexual couples can opt for marriage and that at the same time other couples are denied this right. Marriage has different ends; the weighing of its reproductive aim was imposed in the Middle Ages. Read on the evolution of family and marriage as social institutions”.

On Monday, August 13, there kicked off in Cuba the popular consultation of the new draft Constitution, which includes transcendental newnesses, among them, in the bodies of higher leadership, such as the comeback of the figures of President of the Republic and Prime Minister, as well as the Council of State and the National Assembly of People’s under the same direction.

This process of massive consultation will come to an end on November 15, and all criteria will be sent to the National Assembly for the drafting of the Magna Carta that will be subject to an approving referendum.

Translated by Jorge Mesa Benjamin / Cubasi Translation Staff

  • Published in Specials

A country (and a Constitution) with Everyone and for Everyone

The Republic’s first law should be that of respect to the dignity of all its children. In the country we dream and need, there cannot be space for discrimination.

The fact that the new Constitution of the Republic of Cuba explicitly rejects any discrimination is an achievement of all Cubans, regardless their beliefs, age, gender, skin color, skills, sexual orientation…

Without euphemisms, with all the letters, the project that is now reviewed by the citizenship opens a path for the effective reformation of some laws that still hinder (even, without the expressed attempt of doing so) the full exercise of rights.

That should be the nation dreamt by José Martí, of everyone and for everyone’s welfare. We must approach it dialectically. Because to try to arbitrarily compare views from the nineteenth century with those of the XXI century would mean to ignore the contributions of so many years of struggle and debates in all fields: social, political, cultural, economic…

The renovating postulates of this project of Constitution (they are many, although few focus on article 68 that establishes that marriage is the union between two people, without sex specifications), are not anyone’s whim: they are the outcome of deep reflection that has taken into account the demands and just aspirations of the citizenship.

The Constitution, obviously, is not enough to solve all conflicts. But it’s an indispensable rule: the beginning of a path that concerns us all. It’s not, it cannot be, a despotic imposition; it has to be the result of a national, respectful and deep debate, free of prejudices and devious interests.

It’s not worthy to negotiate a right: there are absolute rights. Granting them to those who don't enjoy them doesn't mean to strip them off of those who already have them. The limit of a man’s freedom is the one set by the freedom of another.

Can anyone affirm—speaking of the aforementioned article— that giving the right to two men or two women to get married, takes away that same right from a man and a woman?

There will be conceptual debates (let them be welcomed if they are respectful and well founded); but the right exists.

Education guarantees that the necessary changes can be assumed with fewer traumas, from convincing and not from imposition.

But education has to be a permanent process. There is so much left to educate, and much to discuss. But the Constitution should guarantee the foundation of that education and that discussion: to lay the road.

When the Revolution established laws against skin color or sex discrimination, not the entire population was persuaded of the need of those laws.

Racism and machismo were deep rooted in Cuban society. Does it mean that laws eliminated all manifestations of racism and machismo? Regrettably that was not true. But the law offered shelter to millions of people who were direct or indirectly discriminated against. And it was platform for an educational work that doesn't end, but that has attained unquestionable results.

To conquer all justice: that must be the objective of socialism. In order to achieve this, we must have a modern, functional, effective legal system, in permanent dialogue with the science and the conscience.

We need to learn from the past to build the present; we must take a look back to remember what we’ve done, but it’s imperative to look forward: a country, and a Constitution, where we all fit in.

Cubasi Translation Staff / Amilkal Labañino Valdés

Marriage may protect against heart disease/stroke and associated risk of death

Marriage may protect against the development of heart disease/stroke as well as influencing who is more likely to die of it, suggests a pooled analysis of the available data, published online in the journal Heart.

The findings prompt the researchers to suggest that marital status should be included as a risk factor for heart disease/stroke and likely survival in its own right.

Most (80%) cardiovascular disease can be attributed to well known risk factors: age; sex; high blood pressure; high cholesterol; smoking; and diabetes. But it's not clear what influences the remaining 20 per cent.

The findings of previous research on the impact of marital status have been somewhat mixed, so in a bid to clarify the issues, the authors trawled research databases for relevant published studies.

They drew on 34 out of a total of 225, all of which had been published between 1963 and 2015, and involved more than 2 million people aged between 42 and 77 from Europe, Scandinavia, North America, the Middle East, and Asia.

Pooled analysis of the data revealed that, compared with people who were married, those who weren't (never married, divorced, widowed) were at heightened risk of developing cardiovascular disease (42%) and coronary artery heart disease (16%).

Not being married was also associated with a heightened risk of dying from both coronary heart disease (42%) and stroke (55%).

When the data were broken down further, the analysis showed that divorce was associated with a 35 per cent higher risk of developing heart disease for both men and women, while widowers of both sexes were 16 per cent more likely to have a stroke.

While there was no difference in the risk of death following a stroke between the married and the unmarried, this was not the case after a heart attack, the risk of which was significantly higher (42%) among those who had never married.

The authors caution that the methods used and adjustments made for potentially influential factors varied considerably across all the studies, which may have affected the results of their analysis.

Similarly, there was no information on same sex partnerships or the quality of marriage, and the potential role of living with someone, as opposed to being married to them, was not explored.

But this is the largest study to date, with the age and ethnicity of the participants strengthening the wider applicability of the findings, the authors point out.

And there are various theories as to why marriage may be protective. These include earlier recognition of, and response to, health problems; better adherence to medication; better financial security; enhanced wellbeing; and better friendship networks.

"Future research should focus around whether marital status is a surrogate marker for other adverse health behaviour or cardiovascular risk profiles that underlies our reported findings or whether marital status should be considered as a risk factor by itself," the authors conclude.

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