Saturday, March 25, 2017

Task for Alejandro Castro: Protecting Cuba’s Disabled

Task for Alejandro Castro: Protecting Cuba's Disabled / Juan Juan Almeida

Juan Juan Almeida, 22 March 2017 — On March 17 of this year, a group of
NGO (non-governmental organization) representatives from Latin America
and the Caribbean celebrated in Havana Cuba's political agenda in
support of people with disabilities of every kind. The next day, for
the twentieth time, Cuban institutions honored the legacy of Terry Fox
by encouraging people to join in the traditional marathon. It is
interesting that, although the Cuban State and constitution guarantee
the right to free education without discrimination, there are neither an
educational policy nor laws designed to protect people with different

According to official figures, approximately 3% of the Cuban population
lives with some limitation that keeps them from participating in the
labor market, and as a result, they cannot access the funds to confront
the many obstacles they face in life.

The present legislation regarding this issue is very clear, but not all
people with limitations possesses "special protection" status. In order
to prove need, a disabled person needs to be in a situation of
vulnerability or of economic dependence.

There is a logical explanation: having a deficiency is not synonymous
with being vulnerable. There are many types of disabilities: physical,
mental, motor, and even sensory, and not all necessarily make a person
incapable of work. However, in the particular circumstances of the
island of Cuba, this justification is very unjust. There is nobody
legally responsible for determining or regulating, according to whatever
conditions are established, exactly when a disabled person is considered
deserving of being included in, or excluded from, "special protection."
As a result, this right is being denied to all people with hinderances.

Furthermore, we should not forget that any individual receiving
subsidies from social security for labor disability continues to be
economically dependent. Simply getting a pension should not disqualify
one from "special protection" status. It is not a mathematical equation,
but rather question of applying formulas to the present reality in order
to be efficient and achieve the greatest social benefit. What products
or services are available to a person who receives 150 Cuban pesos a
month (about $6 US)?

I suffer from a disease that, without the right treatment, makes it
impossible for me to do certain things. I speak from the knowledge of
personal experience: I know that Cuban associations for the
physical-motor disabled, and for the visually or hearing impaired, such
as ACLIFIM. ANSI, and ANSOC, work for the equal rights of people with
handicaps, for recognition of their dignity, autonomy and social and
community integration. This, however, is pure publicity, because as
long as the Government does not push for a real legal policy designed to
stop us seeing disability as disease, they will not begin to tackle this
controversial issue from a more inclusive and less discriminatory social

Perhaps, as Mariela Castro did for the LGBTI community, her brother
Alejandro Castro Espín, known for having a visual impairment, should
lead a campaign for the respect of equality and the rights of people
with disabilities. But, of course, the masses of handicapped, with
shameful frequency, fail to be a priority for a "great leader" who has
been held up as champion of human rights.

Translated by Claire Huttlinger

Source: Task for Alejandro Castro: Protecting Cuba's Disabled / Juan
Juan Almeida – Translating Cuba -

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