Much Remains to be Done / Amado Calixto Gammalame, Cuban Law Association

By Amado Calixto Gammalame

Although racism in Cuba began to decline during the wars of independence, by the obvious presence of blacks and mulattoes among the mambises (Cuban guerrillas), that was only a beginning. Much remains to be done, after more than twelve years into the 21st Century.

The idea of a characteristic or distinctiveness of a particular social group in relation to its ethnic origin has been the core factor for the onset of prejudices and attitudes that prevent a more just and comprehensive understanding of the problem from a historical, economic, and social point of view.

On the subject much has been said, but in practice little has been done, the most commendable in my view being what is endorsed by Articles 41 and 42 of the Constitution of the Republic: “(41) All citizens have equal rights and are subject to the same duties. (42) Discrimination based on race, skin color, sex, national origin, religious beliefs or any other offense against human dignity is forbidden and is punishable by law.

But from there to everyday life is a long stretch, as is often found in the judgments of inferiority and marginality lurking in the minds of many people in relation to blacks, including the judgment of those who make the major decisions in the country, even though from time to time to they recognize it.

Just look, for example, at the contrast between the ethnic composition of the representatives of the Cuban diplomatic corps, either to represent us in Burundi, Burkina Faso and Togo, and the students of the Institute of International Relations (future diplomats), or between the current leadership of the so-called top-tier management, and the mass of black intellectuals, formed by the system itself, with the same qualifications, displaying the first condition that one must have to occupy such positions: being a member of the only party allowed in Cuba.

It is not my style to compare our small country with others, but since there is already talk of a generational shift, I ask two questions that relate to the topic: Will there be a black president in Cuba like there is in the United States? Will it be a black woman? Nobody panic, I’m just fantasizing.

11 September 2013

Stigmatized Youth / Amado Calixto Gammalame #Cuba

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Atty. Amado Calixto Gammalame

 

One of the problems that often confronts young people, although not exclusive to this segment of the population, is the social rejection to which men and women who have been sentenced for some crime are subjected.

It becomes evident in different ways, more commonly in the absence of job opportunities, a current problem for young people on a global scale. A requirement of the employment application is a certificate from the Central Registrar of Sentencing, which contains the criminal record of each individual, along with the police profile that Cuba keeps for every individual in the system, regardless of the resolution of a case. If it indicates that the applicant has been tried or sentenced for anything illicit, no matter how minor the crime, he is denied the job and forced to apply for “another job.” The economic crisis and the current social climate make this already critical problem worse.

I am of the opinion that, while the profiles used by authorities are necessary from a legal standpoint — as in criminal profiling, when even honesty forces one to acknowledge the technical and scientific backwardness from which we suffer in this area — “profiling” with respect to employment is an unacceptable practice, an affront and a lifelong label.

A letter sent to AJC by Maria Emilia provides an example. In it she asks for assistance to help her son re-enter society since, as she says in her own words, he has been subject to detentions and citations to explain his conduct in being involved with other delinquent youths, and I quote … “My son is 28 years old and went to prison when he was 17, not knowing other people I turn to young people who went through the long stay in prison with him, which I suppose are seen in the communal services where he worked when he got out of prison, there are no doctors working there or others of that type, if my son at only 17 was given such a severe sentence, it’s impossible that he would know other people without the Cuban state itself enabling him.”

A separate item requires the social recognition or lack of recognition young offenders coming out of prison receive when they arrive in the neighborhood, referring to the stigma they face, a product of the devaluation of the social aspects with which they are not welcomed and recognized with such defects or social attitudes.

These efforts to mitigate the adverse effects of isolation are laudable, but the remedy is always in our hands, mainly in the hands of young people themselves. Nobody will do for them what they do not want or can not do for themselves.

There are young people eager to move forward. Children and young people are the most precious treasure of our society. You have to give them a great deal of credit, whether they have been prosecuted, punished or not. The day the country eliminates this type of injustice, so bravely, creating, proposing and doing, the harmful consequences that this type of iniquity to this important sector of society will be eliminated

 Boston College CASA and RST

September 16 2012