Mariela Castro: Many Fall into the Campaigns’ Trap

Amid the National Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and Girls, CubaSí interviewed Mariela Castro Espín, Head of the National Center for Sex Education, a Cuban woman who has earned the right to talk about all these subjects.

—When do these subjects start to be thought over and addressed in Cuba?

—Women earn less than men in both Europe and the US. In Cuba, the first law approved by the Revolutionary government — February 7th, 1959 — one month after the triumph of the Revolution, achieved equal pay for men and women. That is to say that such inequality was no longer a problem for us after January 1st, 1959. Other issues remained as Revolutions do not have magic wands, unfortunately. In this regard, we need to work harder to find better solutions. But we have not stopped working, not for a second.

“Cuba was the first country to sign and later ratify CEDAW. This subject was addressed by the Federation of Cuban Women since its earliest days with the existing knowledge on the issue back then, which developed gradually in our nation. In this line, the Federation of Cuban Women was always progressive and quite active in the eradication of violence against women, boys, and girls. I, daughter of a member of this organization, can confirm that my mother cared personally for women with very complex emergencies when these situations were not subjects of debates around the world yet; not even scientifically. From 1980s on, the Federation of Cuban Women has had delegates responsible for the care and prevention of domestic violence. Over the years, they have done an excellent job. Indeed, they involved researchers who were already working violence issues.

—And right now, what is the approach of the island’s efforts?

—In recent times, we are trying to grouping more institutions and organizations from the civil society and the State in order to foster alliances, campaigns, actual actions and thus, see how we introduce them to politics, how to introduce them to legislative changes resulting from the constitutional change, which aims to reviewing this reality, among other things.

“The work is being done here. The State has addressed the issue. In the first international symposium against gender-based violence, sexual tourism, human trafficking, and prostitution, a special attention to all forms of violence was agreed to be later discussed at the National Sex Education and Health Program. Then, we submitted in September the proposal of a comprehensive sex education policy and sexual rights to the Ministry of Public Health. Within such policy, the program for the attention to violence-related problems is being considered. We are nowadays working the best we can and with new legislations looming. This is actually being considered as it is captured in the Constitution.”

—However, we are the target of several questioning especially in social network.

—There have been attacks to discredit our institutions, people in general; for instance, me. OnCuba was the first to crusade against me, when I said in a documentary that there was no femicide in Cuba. But a Cuban journalist working for OnCuba focused on that little excerpt. And she quoted that alone, without the arguments. Then, there are people who switch their fashion chip on and adhere to every campaign coming from Miami and begin unfair, pointless attacks with deep ignorance, which by no means help in the development process of the subject.

“There is a lot of money on the table, especially from the US government to five major evangelical churches, which are the ones trying to undermine many initiatives. They are using this term of gender ideology, which was created by a Catholic bishop in the 1960s, precisely to discredit international advances in the field of women's rights and the Marxist view in relation to this subject. And our Revolution, as Fidel stated, has the right to defend itself, has the right to defend its social achievements, rights that have been endorsed in the Constitution and throughout the legislative system that is already being altered from the constitutional change. There are more than 50 laws on the list of those that are going to be reviewed; but commissions for each of them are to be created. It will be decided whether there will be a comprehensive law for the attention to violence against women or this law will be included in other laws. Work is already in progress.

—As a specialist and also an activist, as a Cuban woman, what is the main message to convey at this time?

—I think the first message is that we should study. We must be educated on this issue because there are many people who fall into the traps of campaigns to discredit our efforts. People who are poorly prepared and log in Facebook posting certain stuff. Besides, we must not act in isolation. We have to join forces, make alliances, because every time we make alliances and unite, we achieve effectiveness. We really make changes. Then, let’s not follow the game of the enemies of the Revolution. Let’s join forces, organizations and institutions that are really working, which are open to all the ideas committed to the revolutionary work that are truly sincere.

Translated by Sergio A. Paneque Díaz/CubaSí Translation Staff

  • Published in Now

1 Dead, 3 Injured In Russia After 19-Year-Old Student Opens Fire

Moscow, Russia: A 19-year-old male student shot and killed a fellow student and wounded three others at a vocational college in Russia's Far East on Thursday before committing suicide, Russian investigators said in a statement.

School and college shootings are rare in Russia which has strict gun laws, and it was not immediately clear what the shooter's motive was.

Investigators said the student opened fire with a hunting rifle at the college, which is located in the city of Blagoveshchensk, around 3,500 miles (5,600 km) east of Moscow near Russia's border with China.

He shot dead another 19-year-old male student, and three other students had been taken to hospital after receiving gunshot wounds, investigators said.

One of the wounded was in a serious condition and was being operated on, the RIA news agency reported.

Russia's Investigative Committee opened a criminal case.

Vasily Orlov, the governor of the Amur Region, described the incident as a tragedy.

"I express my deep condolences to the relatives of the victims," Orlov said in a statement on social media.

"We will give them all necessary assistance. And I promise that from our side we will make sure we investigate why such an incident was possible in an educational institution."

In 2018, a teenager killed 19 people in another college shooting, in the Black Sea region of Crimea which Russia annexed from Ukraine, before also killing himself.

And in October, a Russian conscript shot dead eight fellow soldiers in Russia's Far East.

  • Published in World

Priest murdered in Mexico border town, becoming 27th to die in violence

Friday morning, Fr. Juan Martín Guzmán Vega became the 27th priest in Mexico to be murdered.

According to the Catholic Multimedia Center (CCM), Fr. Guzmán, variously referred to as Fr. Juan Martín or Fr. José Martín, was stabbed several times with a knife after returning to his rectory from a walk outside to get food. “Neighbors heard cries for help inside the parish, when they approached they saw Father José Martín seriously injured so he was transferred to the General Hospital of the town to be treated,” the report said. “Minutes later his death was declared.”

He was 55 and had been a priest for 15 years and served in the diocesan prison pastoral ministry and in the community of Cristo Rey de La Paz, Ejido Santa Adelaida.

Fr. Guzmán’s bishop, Eugenio Lira Rugarcía of the Diocese of Matamoros, issued a statement expressing “deep pain” over the “unfortunate death of the presbyter José Martín Guzmán Vega, of whom the competent authorities have already begun investigations to clarify the facts and do justice.

“In the meantime, we express our condolences to the Guzmán Vega family and the Cristo Rey de la Paz Parish Community, Ejido Santa Adelaida, and invite everyone to join in prayer to ask God for the eternal rest of Fr. Martin,” the bishop said.

CCM, a website run by Pauline Fr. Omar Sotelo, took note of a “rebound in violence” in Matamoros, a city bordering Brownsville, Texas. On August 19, state news media reported an incidence of shootings that injured and killed various people, including a child under 10 years old.

The August 23 murder is the latest violence against religious figures in Mexico. “So far this year there have been several incidents against priests and religious,” CCM noted. “Such is the case of a priest injured by a firearm in Cuernavaca Morelos and death threats to priests in various areas of Veracruz.”

On August 3, Fr. Aarón Méndez Ruiz, director of the Casa del Migrante AMAR migrant shelter in Nuevo Laredo, was kidnapped after blocking an attempt by an organized criminal group to kidnap Cuban migrants from the shelter.

Priest collar Credit alphaspirit via wwwshutterstockcom CNA 690x450

Members of the criminal group that abducted Father Méndez had attempted to kidnap Cuban migrants from the shelter with the intention of holding them for ransom, according to Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW). CSW noted that Nuevo Laredo had been added to the U.S. “Remain in Mexico” program, which requires migrants to stay in Mexico while they await immigration hearings in the United States. Father Méndez is one of many priests running shelters for migrants and asylum seekers in the area, CSW said:

Many criminal groups view Church leaders, both Catholic and Protestant, and their influence, as a threat to their power. Religious leaders continue to be threatened, kidnapped and killed, and a lack of proper investigation means perpetrators are not brought to justice.

Mervyn Thomas, chief executive of CSW, commented, “We urge the international community to engage with the Mexican government on these matters and to recognize the role that many religious leaders play, not only as leaders of their churches, but also as voices for peace, justice and integrity, and as human rights defenders.”

In July, Fr. Juvenal Candía Mosso was shot in the city of Cuernavaca while riding in a taxi for a prison ministry meeting. The priest was taken to the hospital. The driver was also injured in the attack, and died from his wounds. According to Catholic News Agency, quoting local media, the attack took place the evening of July 22 in front of San José Seminary in the village of Chamilpa, part of metro Cuernavaca.

  • Published in World

Imboden and Berry stage podium protests at Lima 2019 to call for change in United States

Olympic bronze medallist fencer Race Imboden knelt during the American national anthem after winning gold in the men’s team foil, with a second protest then staged by hammer thrower Gwen Berry here at the Lima 2019 Pan American Games.

Imboden had already claimed a bronze medal in the individual men’s foil event, before topping the podium in the team competition alongside Gerek Meinhardt and Nick Itkin.

The 26-year-old, the world number two, then knelt as the American national anthem was played during the medal ceremony.

The act is seen as a civil rights protest, started by American football player Colin Kaepernick in 2016.

Kaepernick had knelt to highlight police brutality and racism.

The stance has become more commonly referred to as "taking a knee".

Imboden, a men’s foil team bronze medal from the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and world champion, posted on Twitter to explain his decision to take the knee after the event. 

"We must call for change," he said.

"This week I am honored to represent Team USA at the Pan Am Games, taking home gold and bronze.

"My pride however has been cut short by the multiple shortcomings of the country I hold so dear to my heart.

"Racism, gun control, mistreatment of immigrants, and a president who spreads hate are at the top of a long list.

"I chose to sacrifice my moment today at the top of the podium to call attention to issues that I believe need to be addressed.

"I encourage others to please use your platforms for empowerment and change."

The US has suffered from three mass shootings in the past two weeks, with American President Donald Trump receiving criticism for his response to the tragedies.  

Less than 24 hours after Imoden's protest, a second was then staged by Berry, following her victory in the women's hammer throw competition.

Berry was seen raising her right fist at the conclusion of her medal ceremony.

It mirrored the act of Olympic sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the Mexico 1968 Olympic Games, where the duo won gold and bronze medals in the 200 metre race.

The act was a civil rights protest against racial discrimination.

The Australian Olympic Committee last year awarded a posthumous Order of Merit to Peter Norman, who stood in solidarity with the black American athletes on the podium.

After Carlos had left his gloves at the Olympic Village, it was Norman, who came from a Salvation Army background, who suggested that the pair share Smith's to carry out a salute that Smith later clarified had been for human rights and not black power.

Both Imdoen and Berry are in breach of Panam Sports rules under a section on "advertisements and publicity during the development of the Pan American Games.

Hammer thrower Gwendolyn Berry staged a separate protest after receiving her gold medal ©Getty Images
Hammer thrower Gwendolyn Berry staged a separate protest after receiving her gold medal ©Getty Images

The rules state "No kind of demonstration or propaganda of any kind is allowed at the venues of the Games or at other sites or areas considered part of the Games."

The consequences of breaches in the relevant section state: "Any violation of the provisions of the present Section shall result in disqualification or withdrawal of the accreditation of the person or delegation concerned. 

"The Panam Sports Executive Board may take further measures and/or impose further sanctions against the NOC or Pan American Sport Confederation and/or International Federation that are responsible of such 29 violation. 

"The decisions taken by the Panam Sports Executive Board regarding this matter shall be final."

Panam Sports declined to comment when contacted by insidethegames.

United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) have said their leadership are reviewing the consequences that may result from the political protests.

“Every athlete competing at the 2019 Pan American Games commits to terms of eligibility, including to refrain from demonstrations that are political in nature," USOPC spokesman Mark Jones told insidethegames in a statement.

“In this case, Race didn’t adhere to the commitment he made to the organising committee and the USOPC.

“We respect his rights to express his viewpoints, but we are disappointed that he chose not to honour his commitment.

 “Our leadership are reviewing what consequences may result.”

Imboden and Berry are not the first to express anti-Trump sentiment during the Games here.

American nine-times Olympic medallist and former men’s 100 metre world record holder Carl Lewis criticised the President during a press conference.

"We have a president who is racist and a misogynist, who doesn’t value anybody but himself," he said. 

The issue has not been exclusive to Lima 2019, however, with women's football player Megan Rapinoe confirming that she would not visit the White House if the US were triumphant at the FIFA Women's World Cup, which they went on to win last month. 

During the tournament, she refused to sing the national anthem in protest at a decision by US Soccer to ban players from kneeling during the anthem.

Her actions drew a response from Trump, who accused Rapinoe of "disrespect" in a series of tweets.

  • Published in Sports

US gunman kills 12 people in government office in Virginia Beach

A municipal employee sprayed gunfire "indiscriminately" in a government building complex on Friday in the US state of Virginia, police said, killing 12 people and wounding four in the latest mass shooting to rock the country.

The shooter was also killed after an extended gun battle with responding officers, in a scene that "best could be described as a war zone", Virginia Beach police chief James Cervera said.

The shooting happened just after 4pm, when the gunman entered one of the buildings at the Virginia Beach municipal complex and "immediately began to indiscriminately fire on all of the victims", Mr Cervera said.

One victim was killed outside in his vehicle, while the others were found on all three floors of the building. Police raised the casualty toll to 12 dead and four wounded on Friday night, after earlier reporting 11 dead and six wounded.

Authorities did not immediately name the attacker but sources quoted by CNN identified him as DeWayne Craddock, a 40-year-old civil engineer who worked in the municipality's public utilities department.

Mr Cervera said the shooter was armed with a .45-calibre handgun fitted with a sound suppressor, and he reloaded several times with extended magazines. Officers were able to locate him from the sound of gunfire and "immediately engaged with the suspect", he said, adding "I can tell you that it was a long gun battle".

The wounded included a police officer, who was saved by his bulletproof vest. All were undergoing surgery on Friday night.

The building where the shooting took place in Virginia Beach – a city of 450,000 people about 320 kilometres south-east of Washington – housed the city's public works and utilities offices and could have as many as 400 people inside at any time.

"This is the most devastating day in the history of Virginia Beach," Mayor Bobby Dyer told reporters. "The people involved are our friends, co-workers, neighbors and colleagues."

Megan Banton, a public utilities employee, told local television station WVEC that during the chaos she and about 20 co-workers hid in an office, where they used a desk to wedge the door shut.

"We just wanted to try to keep everybody safe as much as we could and just trying to stay on the phone with 911, just because we wanted to make sure [police] were coming. They couldn't come fast enough," she said, adding that it felt like "hours".

"We heard gunshots. We kept hearing gunshots and we kept hearing the cops saying, 'Get down.'"

Ms Banton said it felt "surreal" to have a mass shooting in her office building, and having survived it she just wanted to go home and hug her family.

"I have an 11-month-old baby at home and all I could think about was him and trying to make it home to him," she said.

President Donald Trump had been briefed on the shooting and was monitoring the situation, the White House said.

According to the Washington-based Gun Violence Archive monitoring group, Friday's shooting was the 150th mass shooting in the United States this year, defined as a single event in which four or more people are shot or killed.

Despite the scale of gun violence across the nation, gun ownership laws are lax and efforts to address the issue legislatively have long been deadlocked at the federal level.

Among Democrats, the response to the shooting was especially pointed, with many of the party's White House hopefuls weighing in on the gun violence crisis.

"Another horrific shooting shocks the nation, this time in Virginia Beach," Pete Buttigieg tweeted. "Already, this much is clear: it is unacceptable for America to remain the only developed country where this is routine. We must act."

Senator Bernie Sanders decried the influence of the National Rifle Association, a powerful lobby group that routinely calls for more guns in US society so that ordinary citizens are armed and ready to confront a "bad guy".

"The days of the NRA controlling Congress and writing our gun laws must end. Congress must listen to the American people and pass gun safety legislation. This sickening gun violence must stop," he said in a tweet.

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam said it was a "horrific day" for the state.

"Our hearts ache over the senseless violence that has been inflicted upon the Virginia Beach community today. My deepest condolences and prayers go to the families of those who left home this morning and will not return tonight," he said.

Singer and music producer Pharrell Williams, a native of Virginia Beach, paid homage to the strength of his hometown.

"We are praying for our city, the lives that were lost, their families and everyone affected. We are resilient," he said in a tweet.

"We will not only get through this but we'll come out of this stronger than before we always do."

  • Published in World

BREAKING: Columbine High School on 'LOCKDOWN' after incident – police on scene

School officials in Jefferson County say several schools are on lockdown because of a suspicious person.

This means students have to remain inside the school.

Its Twitter account said: “All schools in Columbine, Chatfield, & Dakota Ridge areas have been placed in lockout due to a suspicious person in the Columbine area.

“Will update when we have more. Lockout means students remain inside; entry/exit are restricted.”

  • Published in World

Election Violence Rises in Brazil, PT Gubernatorial Candidate Attacked With 'Explosive Device'

Gubernatorial candidate for Parana, Dr. Rosinha, was handing out flyers in central Curitiba, Parana when a device exploded near him.

The gubernatorial candidate for the Brazilian state of Parana, Florisvaldo Fier, popularly known as Dr. Rosinha, was attacked with an "explosive device" while handing out flyers in central Curitiba Thursday.

RELATED: Guard Shoots PT Deputy Candidate in Brazil

Cellphone footage captured the moment the device exploded near the Workers' Party (PT) candidate as he walked to a political debate hosted at the Pontifical Catholic University of Parana.

"All of a sudden an unknown assailant tossed a bomb at me, which exploded at my legs," Dr. Rosinha said, according to Viomundo.

"I wasn't sure if it was a homemade bomb or one of those bombs used during Sao Joao (popular festivities celebrating the nativity of St. John the Baptist). All I know is that it was powerful and it exploded at my feet. Apart from the enormous shock, I couldn't hear anything."

Dr. Rosinha currently serves as president of the PT state administration of Parana.

This is the second time in a week that a PT candidate has been the target of an attack by unknown assailants in Parana. On Monday, campaign organizer Jessica Teodoro da Silva was struck by what appeared to be firework particles while passing out flyers in the same area. She said the suspect fled the scene, according to O Estado de Sao Paulo. 

A police report has been filed in both incidents.

On Sunday night, Renato Almeida Freitas, a young lawyer and PT candidate for deputy, was wounded by military guards who fired rubber bullets at him. He was later, arrested while doing campaign work in Curitiba, Parana.

In March, Brazilian authorities confirmed that the three-bus convoy comprising the caravan for former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was shot at multiple times as it traveled between the cities of Quedas del Iguazu and Laranjeiras do Sul in the southern state of Parana.

Caravan members traveling in the convoy said they were unaware that the vehicle had been shot at until they sustained a flat tire. Upon examining the exterior of the bus, it was discovered that a large metal spike was lodged in one of the tires.

  • Published in World

Suspect dead, 20 injured in New Jersey arts festival shooting

Twenty people have been injured, some critically, in a shooting at an arts festival in Trenton, New Jersey on Sunday. One person, suspected to be behind the shooting, has been killed according to local officials.

A second suspect is in police custody, according to Mercer County Prosecutor’s office. Fifteen of those injured suffered gunshot wounds and a 13 year-old boy is among the casualties.

Local authorities say that several people opened fire inside the venue and multiple weapons were recovered in the scene. The casualties were confirmed by the Mercer County Prosecutor’s office.

Police received reports that a man had opened fire inside Roebling Market, where the all-night event took place, shortly before 3 am.

"It's a massive crime scene," Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo J. Onofri said at a news conference.

Trenton Mayor Eric Jackson described the incident as “truly a tragedy,” and expressed his sympathies to the victims and their families.

One eyewitness told WPVI that he saw a person with gunshot wounds. “I saw two police officers escort a guy that got shot in the leg,” he said. “They bandaged him up and whisked him away before the ambulance came here."

The 24-hour arts festival, which included artwork submitted by local children, and an anti-gun violence project, has since been cancelled.

@aantrenton It’s with great regret that we announce that the remainder of Art All Night has been cancelled due to a tragic incident that occurred overnight. We’re still processing much of this and we don’t have many answers at... https://www.facebook.com/aantrenton/posts/

@kpgoing4change “Imagine a world free of gun violence. What do you see?” Making art and talking about Moms Demand Action at Art All Night - Trenton. 24 hour event tabling! @momsdemand @aantrenton

@cosmic_hiccup Replying to @TheScottCharles  This is what our community art project looked like when my daughter and I left at 11:30.

  • Published in World
Subscribe to this RSS feed