"Learning to Demand Our Rights," the Message of a Competition in Cuba

The lamentable state of many homes is a source of maximum concern for Cubans. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, October 1, 2019 — The deterioration of homes, the increase in poverty, the lack of transport, and poor health were some of the daily problems most pointed out by Cubans who participated in the competition How to solve a problem in my neighborhood, organized by the Cuban Observatory of Conflicts (OCC) and the app Apretaste.

According to the organizers, more than 60% of the work was related to “the Government’s inability to solve problems in the neighborhood,” which is why many classify it as “inefficient” or “corrupt.” What also stood out was the message of one of the participants, who defended the necessity of “learning to demand our rights” and “not accepting promises without a date of completion and names of those responsible.”

The first prize, of $300, went to Pinar del Rio resident Rolando Pupo Carralero. The competition’s jury also awarded second prizes of $100 to Javier Torres, Miguel Álvarez, and Luz Martínez.

The high participation in this edition, with more than 500 works presented, was decisive for the decision to increase the prizes, awarding five of $50 and ten of $25.

The winners were: Kristian Calzadilla, Manuel Salina, S. Esgue, Alejandro Martínez, Elisa Hernández, Andrés González, Maivis de Fatima, Giordis Valentín, Susel Fernández, Rossio Suarez, Sandor Chaviano, Cira Vega, Jesús Silva, Frank Correa, and Zaray F. García.

In this second edition of the competition, open to Cubans living on the Island, participants were asked to apply the methodology of conflict resolution to problems they perceived in their neighborhoods.

Among the themes that emerged there were also references to the increase in violence, to restrictions on the self-employed, and to laws that make the development of private initiatives difficult.

The Observatory indicated that, although some Cubans attributed the problems in their neighborhoods to the blockade (i.e. the American embargo), the majority blamed them on the “internal blockade that prevents personal and community initiative to solve problems.”

The organizers are also satisfied by the increase, compared with the first edition of the competition, in proposals of solutions “through self-reliance and with motivation for civil society to find responses to diverse community problems.”

“It’s better to solve things with our own hands and not use our hands to wait for a solution,” they emphasize.

The Cuban Observatory of Conflicts has a mission to expose, educate, and empower citizens ready to take initiative to encourage solving problems that afflict Cuban society.

Translated by: Sheilagh Herrera


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