East Harlem, New York — The July 26th Coalition, a solidarity group that supports the Cuban revolution, hosted a March 13 evening of information and open dialogue with two representatives of the Federation of Cuban Women (FMC) in New York City. The women were here participating in events held at the United Nations and hosted by the Commission on the Status of Women during International Working Women’s Month.
Held at the office of Casa de las Americas in East Harlem, N.Y., the meeting presented a public platform for Maritzel González, foreign relations representative of the FMC, North America Region, and Yamila González Ferrer, from the National Union of Cuban Jurists, to enlighten activists on the advancements and ongoing challenges facing the Cuban socialist revolution, especially where strengthening women’s equality is concerned.
The women eloquently raised that elevating the status of Cuban women is an evolving process tied to the broad historical context of more than 50 years of the U.S. blockade of Cuba; the loss of important trading partners, especially the former Soviet Union, for more than 20 years; and even the lack of natural and mineral resources. Some of these examples are rooted in the legacy of 500-plus years of combined Spanish and U.S. colonialism.
Cuba’s national legislature, the National Assembly of People’s Power, is in the process of updating the family law which codified women’s rights inside and outside the home in the mid-1970s. They stated that while sexist attitudes still exist in Cuba, they have decreased. There is also discussion within the legislature to legalize same-sex relationships. These particular laws, along with others, are discussed amongst the entire Cuban population.
The FMC, along with the Center for Sex Education, promotes a Day Against Homophobia in solidarity with the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender population.
The women discussed how it was only with the mass mobilization of the people that Cuba was able to quickly and effectively evacuate thousands of people along the coastal city of Santiago when Superstorm Sandy hit last October. Cuba was hit with four hurricanes within one year and excluding Sandy, in which 11 deaths were reported, no lives were lost during the hurricanes. In the New York region, more than 100 people reportedly lost their lives to Sandy last October.
The FMC, with its membership of 4 million, plays an integral role throughout all of Cuban society — including demanding the freedom of the Cuban Five political prisoners, four of whom are serving heavy sentences in U.S. prisons for defending Cuba’s sovereignty against U.S.-backed terrorist threats.