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The term "Spanish-American" is appropriate because like many New Mexicans the family has been living in the area for a number of generations. The Marez side of the family traces itself back to the conquistadores and the Luna side back to a priest, either Spanish or Mexican, who established a colony under a land grant early in the colonization of New Mexico. While the contemporary Lunas find their Luna ancestor priest a bit of an embarrassment, the practice of padres having one or more wives was widespread in the New World until The Luna-Marez family seems relatively unaffected by Anglo-American attitudes and ways of life.
A few culture conflicts occur, as when the three older sons return home from the war and are no longer satisfied with rural life, but such conflicts are a very minor theme; the major one involves the conflicts of individuals in a traditional rural folk culture and one character's conflicts within himself as he grows up in this culture.
The main character is Tony Marez, age six at the beginning of the novel. With the help and guidance of the curandera Ultima, Tony learns how to cope with the existence of sin and evil. The plot involves a series of episodes that are significant in Tony's growth: During the process of Tony's growth, the influence of traditional culture on a particular individual is examined.
Tony's immediate family consists of his parents, three older brothers about twenty years old, and two sisters who are two or three years older than he.
During his sixth year the old woman Ultima, la Grande, comes to live with them. She is not related to them, but they feel a responsibility for her since she was the midwife for Tony's mother during his birth and the births of his brothers and sisters.
Additionally, it is not right for an old woman to have to live alone: Tony's mother says, "we cannot let her live her last days in loneliness," and his father replies, "No, it is not the way of our people. They decide that she can only be good for the children; besides, "it was the custom to provide for the old and the sick. There was always room in the safety and warmth of la familia for one more person, be that person stranger or friend" 4.
So for the period of the novel, three generations live together. By observing these three age groups, we learn of the traditional attitudes toward their roles. Reverence for the old and respect for their wisdom are shown as well as the feeling of responsibility for the old who, after all, brought up the younger generation.
Old age seems to be a time of rest, a lightening of the load of day-to-day responsibilities. Ultima still helps around the house with the children and the daily chores, but these are the primary responsibility of the mother, and she still acts occasionally in her magical role of curandera, when no one else can effect a cure, but she no longer goes out regularly for illnesses or births. The middle generation, Tony's parents, bear the heaviest load for the welfare of the family.
Tony's father is primarily concerned with being the breadwinner, and although he takes some responsibility for Tony's welfare, we never see him interacting with his daughters. Tony's mother has the main responsibility for raising the children and running the household.
She sees that the children learn their catechism and attend school; she is most often shown in the kitchen and sometimes sewing. The older brothers have already left home and seem to have few responsibilities within the family. They return to visit and help out a little; although their parents would like them to return to the family home and find work in the neighborhood, they are restless and drawn to the city.
The two girls hardly appear in the novel; they play dolls and giggle, they go to school and help their mother a little, but they really are never shown interacting with the other characters. The life of the young boy is shown the most extensively; by the age of six he is clearing rocks away for a garden for his mother.
We see him interacting with his teachers and friends at school, his priest at catechism class, his parents, and Ultima. He has plenty of time during the summer to play along the river and in the country around. His primary responsibility is to do well in school so that he will bring respect to the family. Through Anaya's description we learn the different role expectations for females and males, but we see the conflict between female and male primarily on the symbolic level.
On the literal level, the conflict between husband and wife is caused more by their own characters than by the roles they play. However, through these two personalities and their respective family ideals, the conflict between feminine and masculine values is portrayed; and through the androgynous character of Ultima, a solution is suggested.
Marez is a descendent of the conquistadores who crossed the sea and became men of the llano: Luna-Marez is the descendent of farmers who depend on the phases of the moon and who are quietly in touch with the rhythms of nature.
Their innate character involves being tied to the land rather than roaming over it, and their extended family lives together farming the same land rather than separated like the Marez family in their restless wandering.
Finally, because the founder of the Lunas was a priest, the Catholic religion and the education required for the priesthood are more important to the Lunas than to the Marezes. The conflict between feminine and masculine is also shown on the religious level. God, the father, is omniscient and omnipotent—the Old Testament deity who can seem harsh because he has justice without mercy: He is a deity who because of his power and perfection seems very distant from human beings and their everyday weaknesses and imperfections.
On the other hand, the Virgin Marywho is not omniscient nor omnipotent, understands humans and their weaknesses and loves them anyway. Because she is female, she can plead with God and intercede for mercy on the behalf of humans. God was not always forgiving. He made laws to follow and if you broke them you were punished.
The Virgin always forgave. He spoke and the thunder echoed through the skies. The Virgin was full of quiet and peaceful love…. But he was a giant man, and she was a woman. She could go to him and ask Him to forgive you. Her voice was sweet and gentle and with the help of her son they could persuade the powerful father to change his mind. The mother's goal for her son is clear; she wants him to become a priest or, if that is impossible, a farmer.
The father's goal for Tony is not so clear, but he does not want him to become a priest or a farmer, rather something more in keeping with the men of his own family. Furthermore, Tony is being torn by his religious doubts about a harsh God who seems to allow so much evil in the world. Despite being the archetypal female, she is really androgynous.
She has had no husband or children, although she has been a mother figure to many. She has been active in the public world as well as the private household in ways not usually accepted for women in traditional patriarchal societies. At least partially because of such power and public role, she is accused of being a bruja. Finally, she is a devout Catholic like the Lunas, but also devout in her love of the wind, the sun, and the llano like the Marezes.
Because she personally combines many of the qualities of both female and male, of Luna and Marez, she acts as a mediating influence on the family and as a moderating influence in Tony's life: From my mother I had learned that man is of the earth, that his clay feet are part of the ground that nourishes him, and that it is this inextricable mixture that gives man his measure of safety and security.
Because man plants in the earth he believes in the miracles of birth, and he provides a home for his family, and he builds a church to preserve his faith and the soul that is bound to his flesh, his clay. But from my father and Ultima I had learned that the greater immortality is in the freedom of man, and that freedom is best nourished by the noble expanse of land and air and pure, white sky…. She is an individual who has learned to understand and love her society and its members and to accept the bad along with the good.
Tony, too, is an individual, and he is just learning about himself, his family, and his society. At times he is disillusioned by the wickedness he sees, and at times he feels that he can satisfy only the desires of one of his parents, but not both; as a result of Ultima's guidance, he may be able to find a middle path. Anaya uses the curandera and the bruja to show the traditional ties between the sacred and secular worlds. Ultima, the curandera, is the most important figure in Tony's life during the three years from ages six to nine; she is his teacher, counselor, and friend.
She seems to be known throughout the area as a midwife and herb doctor who learned her skills from a renowned healer, "the flying man of Las Pasturas. She is wise in her knowledge of nature, humanity, and the supernatural and seems to be a devout Catholic—although some conflict arises between the church and her magic: He wanted the mercy and faith of the church to be the villagers' only guiding light" Ultima, like the other traditional folk healers of Western cultures, uses botanical medicines, faith healingpsychological practices, and magical rituals.
She has practical knowledge of the curing properties of certain herbs, and she knows when to harvest and how to cure them. She believes that the natural world is also a spiritual world, so she tells Tony when he is helping her to collect herbs that he should "speak to the plant and tell it why we pulled it from its home in the earth" In her curing she uses such plants as yerba del manso, oregano, osha, manzanilla, and atole the sacred blue corn meal of the Pueblo Indians.
Not only does she use Catholic prayers, but she may also use other prayers to the spirit world, possibly to spirits known to the Indians. Such practice would be consonant with our knowledge of curandismo since it derives from both Spanish and Indian healing traditions. She also uses what she calls "the magic beyond evil, the magic that endures forever" 88which includes incantations and rituals as well as the more clearly described imitative magic of sticking pins into clay dolls in order to kill the evil witches.
Unlike the curanderas of some areas who do not accept payment for cures or who only accept donations after the cure, Ultima requires the payment of forty dollars in silver for the curing of someone who has been cursed, the payment agreed on in advance. Ultima, then, combines botanical, psychological, and faith curing with magic, but magic is used only when the source of the illness is magical. Ultima acts in her role of curandera or hechicera three different times in the novel. Lucas, Tony's uncle, was bewitched by brujas because he chased them away from where they were dancing; they placed a curse on him that was causing him to waste away, and even the city doctors and the priest had been powerless to cure him.
Before agreeing to effect the magical cure needed for Lucas' illness, Ultima warns his family about the consequences in the natural world of tampering with the supernatural: You must understand that when anybody, bruja or curandera, priest or sinner, tampers with the fate of a man that sometimes a chain of events is set into motion over which no one will have ultimate control.
You must be willing to accept this responsibility. The cure, involving herbs steeped in a mixture of kerosene and water, atole, and chanted prayers, lasts for three days. Tony acts as Ultima's helper during the cure, and his strength is magically used to strengthen his uncle. Toward the end of the cure, Ultima makes clay figurines of the three witches and then sticks pins in them.
Finally, both Tony and his uncle vomit out the poison, and Lucas is on the road to recovery. Although the cure involved magical practices, it could be explained by the skeptical reader as a psychological cure. The skeptic would believe that Lucas became ill because he feared the witches, that because he believed that witchcraft was the cause of his illness, he also believed that only magic could cure him hence the inability of the doctors and priest to cure himthat Ultima's reputation as curandera and hechicera makes her the only one whom Lucas will have faith in to effect his cure, that Lucas receives psychological support, especially through Tony, as well as monetary support from his family—itself often important in curing psychological illnesses, and that the herbs Ultima gives to Lucas may also have some curative value.
Ultima's cure is described only through Tony's eyes, and Anaya does not insist that the reader accept everything that Tony believes as literal fact.
Clearly, however, all the family believe that only Ultima's magic cured Lucas. The second cure Ultima performs is on Tony. During a snowstorm Tony chances on a fight between Tenorio, the brujo, and Narciso, a kind old man, and sees Narciso shot. Later, Narciso dies in Tony's arms, and the boy gives confession to him.
Naturally, the incident causes Tony considerable emotional upheaval. As the result of chill from the snowstorm and the emotional trauma, Tony develops pneumonia. For the physical part of his illness, Ultima rubs him with an ointment of Vicks mixed with herbs and gives him a cool liquid to drink, and the doctor from town treats him. Ultima alone treats Tony's feverish nightmares by staying at his side and reassuring him. Her curing this time is almost entirely psychological; no magic is used because the illness does not have a magical cause.
Although Tony realizes Ultima's important part in his cure, Anaya does not insist that only Ultima cured him. The third cure involves the lifting of another curse, one laid by Tenorio on three ghosts or bultos who then disturb the Tellez family. Although the family members are not yet sick, they cannot eat or sleep because the bultos are causing pots and pans to fly against the wall, dishes to jump when people try to eat from them, and stones to fall on the house from the sky.
Once again, the priest has been unable to do anything. Ultima realizes that the curse is on the ghosts rather than on the family and that the ghosts are those of three Indians who died on the ranch two generations earlier and were not buried properly. The brujo's curse has awakened them and caused them to do wrong. The cure, then, involves laying these spirits to rest.
Ultima has a rectangular platform erected with the four posts in each of the four directions—similar to some Indian burials. During a whole day she chants and in the evening brings out three bundles which are placed on the platform. Tony wonders if these are the remains of the Indians, and it is not clear whether they are or not.
Then the platform is burned. The description of Ultima at the cremation again ties her practice of curandismo with Indian practices for she seems like an Indian woman with her long braids falling over her shoulders and a bright sash at her waist, and Tony feels "she had performed this ceremony in some distant past" Again the skeptic could explain the curse and cure in psychological terms as perhaps mass hallucination, but Anaya makes clear here that the reader should not use that explanation, for the flying dishes and falling rocks are experienced not only by the Tellez family but by Tony's skeptical father as well.
The reality of the curse and cure, though seen through Tony's eyes, is insisted on by Anaya by showing the father's skepticism. Throughout the novel, Anaya gradually tries to bring the reader to an understanding and acceptance of the way the curandera and others in the natural, secular world affect and are affected by the supernatural, sacred world.
From early in the novel where Ultima teaches Tony to speak to the spirits of the plants and to listen to the voices and rhythms of nature, through the curses and their cures, and finally to the climax of the novel when Tenorio shoots Ultima's "familiar," the owl, and Ultima almost immediately dies, Anaya shows the close ties of the sacred and secular, the supernatural and natural worlds. Improper acts in the natural world have their repercussions in both the natural and supernatural worlds.
The brujas, too, help tie these worlds together. The actions of the four black witches, Tenorio and his three daughters, unlike Ultima's, are only reported; we do not see them practicing their magic. Tenorio is a tavern keeper and a barber, and on occasion his barbering can be dangerous to his clients—Tenorio's daughters took some of Lucas' hair to use in placing their curse on him.
The daughters are all bad tempered and ugly, "too ugly to make men happy" 91and although we learn little about the daughters, Tenorio is shown as a troublemaker in the village and the murderer of Narciso. In a close-knit traditional society, the troublemakers and the dissatisfied are sometimes labeled witches, for their unhappiness would cause them to envy and hate others and, therefore, be willing and desirous of causing others pain and trouble. The description of the brujas, like that of the curandera, conforms to the traditional pattern for witches in Christian societies.
They sell their souls to the devil; they have black masses and a sabbat of sorts; they read the Black Book; they stir up horrible concoctions of such things as blood of bats, entrails of toads, and blood of roosters; they use incantations and magical words; and, of course, they can perform image magic. They can change into animals, especially coyotes, and also into balls of fire—two forms that are found in Southwest Indian beliefs as well as Spanish-American beliefs.
Witches cannot pass by a cross, nor can they stand the sight of it, and the names "Christ" and "Mary" hurt their ears. They can be killed in their own bodies or in their animal shapes by shooting them with bullets etched with a cross. Although we see the bruja and the curandera both performing magic, Ultima uses her magic only for what she and the reader perceive as good.
Her killing of three people is considered justifiable since they are brujas. Twice Ultima is accused of being a bruja, but in one incident the mob is satisfied that she is not, for it thinks she walks under a cross, and in the other she does not flinch when a cross is held up in front of her. Throughout the novel, good magic is shown to conquer evil magic, but magic must be fought with magic, and the Catholic religious rituals cannot take the place of the ancient magic.
One must remember, however, that using magic to tamper with fate as it affects the natural order of things may bring undesired and unexpected consequences. Anaya shows considerable love for and understanding of the traditional rural Spanish-American society of the Southwest United States.
However, his love of these people does not lead him to romanticize their traditional way of life, for he describes the harsh along with the pleasant realities of that life. Bless Me, Ultima helps to give contemporary urban Americans, both Hispanos and Anglos, a better understanding of and respect for traditional peoples and their beliefs in the spiritual nature of the world we live in. Lippincott,p. Anaya, Bless Me, Ultima Berkeley: Quinto Sol Publications,p.
Subsequent references are to this edition. The Dialectics of Knowledge. And if so, how did the work fit into the overall social and creative context of chicanismo? As the first best seller novel of Chicano literature, it was impossible to dismiss Ultima 's introduction of compelling mythic themes into the disjunctive context of the combative and polemical ethnic literatures of the late sixties.
Ultima was serene in the face of this turmoil, full of conflict, yet noncombative, a portrait of the developing consciousness of the young protagonist, Antonio. The metaphysics of this emerging consciousness were so convincingly drawn that no reader doubted that the seeds of social conscience were deeply sown if yet untested in the chief character. Rudolfo Anaya strikes a deep chord in portraying two primordial ways of relating to the earth, the pastoral and the agricultural. Bless Me, Ultima, BMUis not a quaint, historical sketch of rural folkways, but rather a dialectical exploration of the contradictions between lifestyles and cultures.
At the novel's heart is the process which generates social and historical consciousness. A Marxist-Structuralist perspective defines this process as myth, the collective interpretation and mediation of the contradictions in the historical and ecological experience of a people. In his account of the relationship between a curandera folk healer and her young apprentice, Anaya penetrates deeply the mythical conscience of the reader.
Despite their enthusiasm for his novel, critics have thus far been unable to define the parameters of this response nor prove the reason for its depth. Contributing elements in the narrative include: From the first reviews to later articles, an increasing body of vague but glowing commentary points to a rich "mythic" or "magical" dimension that underlies the novel.
Despite these claims, there appears to be something exceptional about the emerging consciousness of the boy. It is mystically harmonious with nature, yet also incorporates a dynamic, even dialectical awareness of historical forces, from the colonization by Hispanic farmers and ranchers to the coming of the Anglos and World War II.
These seeming contradictions invite a reexamination of the relation of myth and social consciousness, often defined as antithetical, incompatible categories which erode and undermine each other.
Since the novel apparently transcends this impasse, we are obliged to consider a critical model comprehensive enough to explain this achievement. A review of commentary on the novel is the first step in this direction.
Bless Me, Ultima has undergone extensive dream and thematic analyses which include attempts to link its "mythic" elements to precolumbian roots.
The suggestion of analogical patterns achieves credibility for the Golden Carp without having to invoke Huitzilopochtli or Quetzalcoatl as other Chicano writers have done. The political analysis which deems the novel reactionary seems to be based on the assumption that Chicano novels should document only the most relevant social and political struggles. These diverse and fragmentary approaches have fallen short of estimating the overall impact and unity of the work and the structural integrity it has achieved on a number of levels.
Since the "mythic" dimension of Bless Me, Ultima is a point of confluence in the above commentaries, a definition of terms is necessary at this point.
Thus far, the study of myth in Chicano literature has been scholastic. The neoclassic allusions to Aztec and other precolumbian mythological and religious systems are fairly common in Chicano Literature, especially in poetry and theater. Critics have been quick to point this out, elaborating only superficially by tracing the origins of the myths and speculating on how they pertain to the socio-cultural identity of the present day Chicano.
Inspired by the work of Octavio Paz and Carlos Fuentes on the Mexican national psyche, an analogous process has been initiated in Chicano literature and criticism, although it is doubtful that an institutionalized Chicano psychotherapy will be the result.
The underlying assumption that would prevent this is that these mythic or collective psychological patterns supposedly lie outside time, eternally remanifesting themselves in different epochs. Myth is here considered to be an ongoing process of interpreting and mediating the contradictions in the everyday historical experience of the people. Such a structuralist approach to myth offers some analytical tools which can be applied in a way that avoids ideological analysis and is potentially much more penetrating and historically relevant than traditional thematic or culturalist approaches.
The reader of Bless Me, Ultima recognizes the elderly curandera as a kind of repository for the wisdom and knowledge invested in Indo-Hispanic culture.
The novel functions well at this level, for Ultima is indeed in touch with the spirit that moves the land and is intent on conveying this knowledge to Antonio in her indirect and mysterious ways. Yet, the knowledge she commands and the role she plays go far beyond the herbs she utilizes, the stories she saves for the children and her dabbling in "white" witchcraft. The crossed pins, the demon hairballs, the rocks falling from the sky and the fireballs are "colorful" touches which are authentic enough in terms of folk legend.
Anaya inserts the "witchery" only after having won the readers' trust in a clever conquest of their disbelief. However, the enumeration of the standard paraphernalia and the usual supernatural feats of a curandera are neither the reason for nor a barrier to the novel's success.
There is an ancient system of knowledge that Ultima exercises that in this novel does not happen to be in the herbs she uses. Any anthropologist is aware that taxonomies such as those of ethnobotany actually contain the philosophical roots and perceptual conventions of the culture.
It is her role as a cultural mediator and Antonio's natural inclination towards a similar calling that link them to their real power, which is the ability to recognize and resolve the internal contradictions of their culture. These oppositions are clearly defined in both social and symbolic terms.
If they were, they would then be merely pretexts for a combination mystery story, morality play and Hatfield-McCoy saga with a New Mexican flavor. Something more profound is at work in Bless Me, Ultima, for the oppositions are dialectical, and they are mediated in a way that has counterparts in many different cultures around the earth.
In his comparative studies of origin myths, Claude Levi-Strauss extracts the two most basic and primordial ones which occurred either exclusively or in combination in every culture studied. The rival origin myth is more empirically based: Then comes the task of finding the first woman. Each lifestyle and the world view it is based on is as compelling, soul satisfying, and original as the other. The opposition as it occurs in the novel may be schematized as follows: The settling down of humankind into the sedentary ways of the neolithic brought with it the emergence of social classes and institutionalized religion and all the economic and social contradictions that accompany the birth of civilization.
Likewise, the agricultural developments of horticulture and animal husbandry are distinct enough to carry with them their own ideologies as evident above.
Relating more specifically to the novel in question is the history of the colonization of New Mexico and the tremendous impact of the advent of large scale pastoralism. As grazing became more important, the communal egalitarianism of agrarian society began giving way to an emerging class system based on the partidario grazing system and the rise of patrones bosses.
However, such developments are not evident in the novel, perhaps because its locale, eastern New Mexico, was the last area to be settled before American annexation. The coming of the Texas ranchers, the railroad and the barbed wire destroyed the freedom of the plains. As the popular saying goes, "Cuando vino el alambre, vino el hambre" when the barbed wire came, so did hunger.
When an economic system is threatened, so is its ideology, which becomes nostalgic as its dreams are shattered. Cuba impedes union formation in the international investment sector by mandating that all hiring be conducted by state-controlled employment agencies. Cuba's refusal to allow workers to organize or bargain collectively makes foreign investors complicit in the government's human rights violations.
Religious Freedom in Cuba Pope John Paul II's January visit to Cuba fostered hope that the government would ease its repressive tactics and allow greater religious freedom.
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The papal visit provided a unique opportunity for public demonstrations of faith in a country that had imposed tight restrictions on religious expression in and was officially atheist until Although Cuba refused visas to some foreign journalists and pressured some domestic critics during the visit, the pope's calls for freedom of religion, conscience, and expression created an unprecedented air of openness. But while Cuba permits greater opportunities for religious expression than it did in past years, and has allowed several religious-run humanitarian groupsto operate, the government still maintains tight control on religious institutions, affiliated groups, and individual believers.
On a positive note, in November Cuba approved visas for nineteen foreign priests to take up residence in Cuba. Cuba's Bar on International Human Rights Monitoring The Cuban government often welcomes visits from international organizations providing humanitarian aid, particularly those that have publicly opposed the U. But it routinely bans international human rights and humanitarian agencies that may be critical of its human rights record.
Cuba never allowed the U. Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Cuba to enter the country. Unfortunately, he failed to make a public comment about the country's human rights situation.
The Cuban government bars regular access to its prisons by domestic and international human rights and humanitarian monitors. Cuba barred the International Committee for the Red Cross ICRCwhich visits prisoners in custody for political and security offenses all over the world, from conducting prison visits in Cuba's refusal to allow human rights and humanitarian groups access to its prisons represents a failure to demonstrate minimal transparency.
Moreover, the government's barring of the ICRC, which works behind the scenes to protect the rights of political prisoners and does not publicize its findings, shows a profound lack of concern for those prisoners' welfare. Impunity Cuba has failed to enforce constitutional provisions that demand accountability for state officials who commit abuses. Cuba routinely denies human rights abuses, fails to investigate or punish those who commit them, and retaliates against those who denounce them, particularly prisoners.
The persistence of human rights violations in Cuba is undoubtedly due, in part, to the fact that Cuban officials have faced virtually no consequences for the thousands of human rights violations committed in the past forty years.
Yet, Cuba has clear obligations under international law to offer effective remedies to victims of human rights abuses. The Role of the International Community After the demise of the Soviet Union, Cuba suddenly found itself in need of trading partners, foreign investment, and humanitarian assistance the outside world.
Havana saw a need to repair relations with countries that had formerly treated it asa pariah. The international community thus has new opportunities to press for human rights reforms in Cuba. Unfortunately, the huge divide between U. The United States Washington's approach to Havana remains defined by its decades-old trade embargo. The embargo has not only failed to bring about human rights improvements in Cuba but has become counterproductive, providing a pretext for Castro's repression while alienating Washington's erstwhile allies.
Moreover, the embargo restricts the rights to free expression and association and the freedom to travel between the U. Inonly diplomats or members of intergovernmental organizations such as the U. Following the pope's January visit to Cuba, President Clinton took the limited step of restoring direct charter flights from the U. Criticism of the embargo's harsh impact on the Cuban population has spurred U.
Legislation was introduced in both houses of the U. Congress in to lift restrictions on the sale of food and medicines. In earlySen.
Jesse Helms called for humanitarian assistance to "undermine the policies of Fidel Castro. In Octoberfifteen senators, led by Republican Sen.
John Warner, and several prominent foreign policy experts, including former Secretaries of State Lawrence Eagleburger and Henry Kissinger, called on President Clinton to establish a bipartisan commission to reexamine U.
The Clinton administration rejected this proposal in Januaryinstead opting for a package of limited measures intended to increase contacts between U. The European Union E. But Havana has rebuffed efforts to use European aid as a carrot to induce Castro to implement human rights reforms.
The "common position," which the E. Yet full integration into the group remains conditioned on substantial progress in human rights and political freedom, terms that have been rebuffed by Havana, leaving European policy at a stalemate. Canada The Canadian government has sustained bilateral dialogue with Cuba about human rights in the past few years, terming its approach "constructive engagement. Since then, several seminars have been held on women's and children's rights, but the Cuban government does not appear to have changed its human rights practices as a result of the program.
In Canada offered humanitarian assistance to seventeen political prisoners Cuba forced into exile following the pope's plea for prisoner releases.
Canada, like the E. The United Nations From throughthe U. Human Rights Commission approved annual U. The resolutions renewed the mandate of a special rapporteur, Swedish diplomatCarl-Johan Groth, who produced several well-documented reports on the Cuban human rights situation.
However, on April 21,the commission defeated the annual Cuba resolution, ending the special rapporteur's mandate without Cuba ever having granted him permission to enter the country. International resistance to U. But Cuba's glaring actions in earlytrying prominent dissidents and passing repressive legal reforms, appear to have galvanized international support to renew pressure on Cuba. At the April commission meeting, a resolution condemning Cuban human rights practices, which did not include a provision for a rapporteur, passed by a narrow margin.
In Octoberthe General Assembly voted to condemn the U. Ibero-American Nations Since the papal visit to Cuba, Latin American and Caribbean nations have intensified diplomatic contact with Cuba; some restored normal relations for the first time in decades. With some notable exceptions, however, these nations have failed to use their renewed dialogue with Cuba to press for human rights protection. In Novemberthe heads of state of all Ibero-American nations will hold their annual summit meeting in Havana.
Recommendations To the Cuban Government Legal Reforms, Prosecutions, and Harassment The Cuban government should undertake legal reforms to ensure its compliance with international human rights and labor rights treaties to which it is a party. In particular, Cuba should implement the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, by making torture a crime and investigating, prosecuting, and punishing all government officials who employ torture.
Such a measure should also penalize any official who retaliates against an individual alleging torture. The Cuban government should cease all prosecutions based on the individual's exercise of fundamental rights to free expression, association, and movement. The authorities also should cease repressive actions against human rights activists, independent journalists, members of independent political parties, organizations of independent academics, teachers, religious activists, medicalprofessionals, artists, environmental activists, family members of political prisoners, and others based on their actual or imputed criticisms of the Cuban government or its policies.
Such measures include short-term arbitrary detentions, official warnings advertencias oficialesremoval from jobs and housing, surveillance, harassment, intimidation, and forced exile. The Cuban government should reform its Criminal Code, repealing or narrowing the definition of all crimes that are in violation of established international human rights norms and practices.
Among the "crimes" that should be repealed are: Cuba also should repeal its "dangerousness" and "official warning" provisions, which are unduly vague and subject to arbitrary enforcement. Cuba should cease application of the Criminal Code's state security crimes, including enemy propaganda, rebellion, revealing secrets concerning state security, sedition, sabotage, and other acts against state security otros actos contra la seguridad del estadoagainst nonviolent dissidents for the exercise of their fundamental rights.
These provisions should be repealed or reformed to eliminate vague language permitting their application against such persons. The Cuban government should halt the politically punitive use of other legal provisions that, while not explicitly targeting the exercise of legitimate political and civil rights, are so ambiguously and broadly defined that they may be employed to prevent Cubans from exercising those rights. Cuba should narrow the scope of several crimes including: The Cuban government should restructure its court system to establish judicial and prosecutorial independence.
The Cuban government should reform the Criminal Procedure Code to provide due process guarantees for all criminal defendants. In particular, the Criminal Procedure Code should afford swift judicial review of all detentions and defendants' prompt access to lawyers. The Cuban government should permit lawyers to practice without joining collective law firms.
The Cuban government should reform its Associations Law to allow for the legalization of independent groups that are not subservient to state-controlled organizations. The Criminal Code provision penalizing organizations not recognized under the current Associations Law should be repealed. The Cuban government should abolish the death penalty. Until such a step is taken, the death sentences of all persons currently on death row should be commuted to life sentences.
The Cuban government should lift restrictions on foreign journalists working in Cuba, granting visas to journalists despite the content of any prior Cuba coverage. The Cuban government should cease the conscription of minors for service in its armed forces. Prisons and Political Prisoners The Cuban government should immediately and unconditionally release all individuals currently imprisoned for having exercised their fundamental rights to free expression, association, assembly, or movement, including all those imprisoned for human rights monitoring and advocacy.
The Cuban government should take immediate steps to improve prison conditions, particularly ensuring that no resources currently available in the prisons are arbitrarily denied to prisoners based on their political opinions.
The government should ensure that all prisoners receive a sufficient daily minimal caloric intake, appropriate medical attention, and adequate housing and sanitary conditions.
Cuba should encourage family visits and cease the arbitrary refusal of family provisions of supplies for prisoners, such as food and medicine. The government should address persistent physical abuse by prison guards with investigations and disciplinary measures against the responsible authorities and not by prosecuting prisoners who denounce such abuses.
Until Cuba releases all its political prisoners, it should segregate political prisoners from common prisoners. The Cuban government should cease punishing political prisoners for expressing their views, including for failing to participate in politicalindoctrination sessions, refusing to wear prison uniforms, or criticizing prison abuses. In particular, Cuban authorities should immediately cease the use of pretrial isolation cells and solitary confinement, the effect of which is worsened by its use for long periods and by sensory deprivation.
The Cuban government should cease harassment of political prisoners' family members, during visits and outside the prison grounds. The Cuban government should cease mandatory political indoctrination in its prisons.
The Cuban government should permit pastoral visits by clergy, without subjecting prisoners to intense review of their justifications for such visits. To increase transparency, the Cuban government should make public detailed information on its prison system. Such materials should include: Human Rights Monitoring The Cuban government should permit domestic and international human rights monitoring.
The government should officially recognize Cuban human rights organizations, other nongovernmental organizations, and political opposition groups. The Cuban government should grant regular access to its prisons by domestic and international human rights and humanitarian monitors.
Cuba should allow the International Committee of the Red Cross to resume prison visits. The Cuban authorities also should permit international human rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch, to conduct human rights investigations in Cuba. Labor Rights The Cuban government should comply with its obligations under international labor rights treaties that it has ratified.
The Cuban government should ensure that prisoners participating in prison work programs are sufficiently nourished, physically fit, and receive adequatecompensation.
Cuba should cease compelling political prisoners to participate in prison work programs. The Cuban government should demonstrate respect for the freedom of association by ceasing repression of independent labor organizers. Cuba should allow independent labor unions to operate legally.
The Cuban government should revise its foreign investment laws to eliminate reliance on state-controlled employment agencies and other impediments to labor activism.
Impunity The Cuban government should investigate, prosecute, and punish officials responsible for human rights violations and should provide victims of abuses with effective remedies. Any official retaliating against a person alleging human rights abuses should face severe disciplinary measures.
The embargo is not a calibrated policy intended to produce human rights reforms, but a sledgehammer approach aimed at nothing short of overthrowing the government. While failing at its central objective, the embargo's indiscriminate nature has hurt the population as a whole, and provided the government with a justification for its repressive policies. The embargo's restrictions on the free exchange of ideas through travel violate human rights. Finally, the embargo has made enemies of all of Washington's potential allies, dividing those nations that ought to act in concert to press for change in Cuba.
Until such a step is taken, the U. To the European Union The European Union's Common Position elaborates clear criteria for human rights gains in Cuba, making full economic cooperation with Cuba conditional on human rights improvements including reform of the Criminal Code, the release of political prisoners, an end to harassment of dissidents, the ratification of international human rights conventions, and respect for the freedoms of speech and association. Yet Cuba has not budged on these issuessince the Common Position was adopted in European governments should redouble their efforts to press Castro for reforms.
To the Canadian Government The Canadian government has pursued a policy of constructive engagement with Cuba since signing a January accord on investment issues that also opened a dialogue on human rights.
But Ottawa has little to show for its engagement with Havana and must now use its leverage to push for reforms.
To the Ibero-American Nations The Ibero-American countries should use the occasion of the next Ibero-American summit meeting in Havana, scheduled forto exert meaningful pressure for human rights reforms in Cuba.
Yet he has taken no steps to fulfill that promise. Nations attending this year's summit should hold President Castro to account for this failure and seek firm commitments, rather than empty promises.
To Foreign Investors in Cuba Foreign investors in Cuba should use their influence with the Cuban government to press for Cuban compliance with the international human rights and labor rights treaties that it is committed to uphold. Foreign investors should encourage and protect freedom of association and assembly in the workplace and endorse policies opposing political discrimination in hiring.
Investors should strongly discourage Cuba from requiring reliance on state-controlled employment agencies for hiring employees. Companies also should take steps to avoid the inadvertent use of goods produced in whole or in part by prison labor programs that wrongfully require political prisoners' participation or require prisoners to work in abysmal conditions. Cuba's international obligation to respect the Universal Declaration arises from the fact that it is incorporated into the United Nations Charter, rendering all member states, including Cuba, subject to its provisions.
Also, the UDHR is widely recognized as customary international law. The Universal Declaration constitutes a basic yardstick to measure any country's human rights performance. Cuba is also bound to uphold numerous international human rights and labor rights conventions it has ratified. In doing so, Cuba assumed responsibility for complying with the treaties' provisions and for incorporating the treaties into Cuban domestic legislation. This report details how Cuban legislation and practices fall far short of compliance with these treaties and in many respects blatantly violate their provisions.
Furthermore, Cuba has publicly stated that it is willing to comply with the provisions of the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment ofPrisoners, which provide authoritative guidance on the treatment of prisoners. When faced with criticism of its civil and political rights record, Cuba often defends its human rights practices by pointing to improvements in economic and social rights and blames any failings on the economic impact of the U.
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But, as this report shows, Cuba's restrictions of civil and political rights directly impede Cubans' progress on economic and social rights. For example, Cuba's ban on independent labor unions severely limits workers' ability to improve working conditions and pay scales.
Similarly, firing, evicting, or jailing nonviolent anti-government activists violate those individuals' rights to a job, a roof over their heads, and participation in the society. Cuba's denial of sufficient food to political prisoners, based on their political opinion, violates the right to adequate food. On a positive note, Cuba appears to have made significant strides toward compliance with its obligations under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which it ratified in February Cuba routinely insists that its laws guarantee fundamental human rights.
But Cuba's constitution, which makes broad assertions of guaranteeing fundamental freedoms, including those of association, expression, and religion, simultaneously undermines these basic human rights, as do other Cuban laws. For example, the constitution nullifies freedoms when they are contrary to "the goals of the socialist State," "socialist legality," or the "people's decision to construct socialism and communism.
Cuba has a mixed record on questions of international arms control. However, at this writing Cuba had not signed the Mine Ban Treaty, which bans the production, use, and sale of anti-personnel landmines. Human rights activists and independent journalists are among the government's most frequent targets, along with independent labor organizers, religious believers, members of independent political parties, organizations of independent academics and medical professionals, environmental activists, and others.
These improper arrests and detentions, which serve as intimidating measures designed to silence dissent, violate Article 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Cuba often ratchets up pressure on government opponents by subjecting them to repeated arrests, short-or long-term detentions, or criminal prosecutions. In many cases, the government then presents activists with the "choice" to go to prison, or continue serving a prison term, or be exiled from their homeland. This practice violates the UDHR, which explicitly prohibits governments from exiling citizens from their own country.
Prison guards also commit abuses against prisoners that rise to the level of torture. Cuba's practices fail to comply with numerous provisions of the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, including the rules governing food, health care, internal prison security, punitive measures, and prison work programs. Cuba's integration of political prisoners into its prison labor programs violates a prohibition on forced labor performed by detainees held for their political opinion.
This practice is banned under the International Labor Organization's Conventionregarding the Abolition of Forced Labor, a treaty ratified by Cuba. Freedom of Expression and Opinion Cuba exerts strict control over freedom of expression and opinion, both in law and practice, in violation of the UDHR's Articles 18 and The Criminal Code grants officials extraordinary authority to crush dissent.
Among the numerous criminal provisions restricting free expression and opinion, the government frequently employs those against enemy propaganda and contempt for authority desacato to penalize outspoken activists.
The government treats independent journalists and human rights activists with notable harshness. Prison indoctrination programs, where prisoners are forced to participate in pro-government sloganeering, and punishment of prisoners who criticize prison abuses also violate the freedoms of expression and opinion. Under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, restrictions of fundamental rights are only permissible: Freedom of Association Despite Cuba's assurances that it protects freedom of association, this report details how Cuban legal measures and actions stifle this fundamental freedom for independent labor unions, human rights groups, professional associations, and others.
The government's denial of legal recognition to opposition groups leaves the members of unauthorized groups at risk of arrest and prosecution. Cuba also subjects members of independent organizations to frequent harassment, arrests, and detentions. Religious Freedom While Cuba permits greater opportunities for religious expression than it did in past years, the government still maintains tight control on religious institutions, affiliated groups, and individual believers.
Freedom of Movement Cuba continues to criminalize unauthorized attempts to leave the island as "illegal exit. Cuba also maintains its crime of "illegal entry," which has been used to penalize Cuban citizens returning to their homeland.
Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights guarantees the right of all citizens to leave their country and to return to their country.
Cuba's pressuring nonviolent opponents to go into exile, often with threats of prison terms or as a condition of release from prison, violates Article 9's prohibition on exile. Due Process Protections Cuban legislation undercuts the right to a fair trial by allowing political figures to control the courts and prosecutors, granting broad authority for warrantless arrests and pretrial detentions, and restricting the right to a defense. These laws and practices violate the due process protections under Articles 10 and 11 of the UDHR, which ensure the right to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, and the right to "all guarantees necessary" for a defense.
Children's Rights The abuse of minors in Cuban detention centers represents a government failure to comply with the Convention on the Rights of the Child. In particular, the Constitution of the Republic endorses each of those rights and specifies the essential guarantees of their exercise.homero sandwich latino
Furthermore, all the rights and freedoms enunciated in the Constitution are duly elaborated in various legal provisions that make up our domestic substantive law. While Cuba's domestic legislation includes broad statements of fundamental rights, other provisions grant the state extraordinary authority to penalize individuals who attempt to enjoy their rights to free expression, opinion, association, and assembly.
Cuban legislation also undercuts the right to a fair trial, by allowing the country's highest authorities to control the courts and prosecutors, granting broad authority for warrantless arrests and pretrial detentions, and restricting the right to a defense. Unfortunately, Cuban courts have failed to observe the few legal guarantees of due process available to defendants under the law. In recent years, rather than modify its laws to conform with international human rights standards, Cuba has approved legislation further restricting fundamental rights.
Only a restoration of religious freedoms stands out as a notable exception to this trend. Cuba's concurrent refusal to amnesty politicalprisoners and its continued prosecutions of nonviolent activists highlight the critical role of Cuba's laws in its machinery of repression. The constitution nullifies freedoms when they are contrary to "the goals of the socialist State," "socialist legality," or the "people's decision to build socialism and communism. The constitution has been used to undermine international human rights treaties ratified by Cuba by providing that any treaty, pact, or concession that disregards or diminishes Cuba's "territorial sovereignty" is illegal and void.
The constitution also grants citizens a right "to fight, using all means, including armed struggle The freedoms of speech and press, for example, exist "in keeping with the goals of the socialist society. Cuba's broad guarantees of religious rights, which were adopted in constitutional reforms and marked a shift away from an atheistic state, provide that: The State, which recognizes, respects, and guarantees freedom of conscience and religion, simultaneously recognizes, respects, and guarantees the freedom of every citizen to change religious creeds, or not to have any; and to profess the religious worship of their choice, based on respect for the law.
Nevertheless, Cuba continues to discriminate politically in the provision of economic rights, most notably in the arena of labor rights, by banning all independent unions.
In a phenomenon popularly known as "tourist apartheid," the best hotels, resorts, beaches, and restaurants are off limits to most Cubans, as are certain government health institutions.