politics

These Two Black Women Just Became Cuba’s Vice Presidents — And It’s Monumental

History is being made in Cuba — and not just because it’s the first time in 60 years that a Castro won’t hold the title of president over the island-nation. The appointment of Miguel Mario Díaz-Canel Bermudez as president is accompanied by the naming of two Black women as vice presidents in Cuba.

Inés María Chapman Waugh and Beatriz Jhonson Urrutia, both engineers from the eastern part of the Caribbean island, have joined the council, making it the most diverse in Cuba’s history. Half of the six vice presidents of the ruling Council of State are Black, including the first vice president, Salvador Valdes Mesa, and three are women.

Discussing the changes in high-ranking positions, former President Raúl Castro said last week that the government still has a “battle of proportions, not just in numerical aspects, but qualitative — in decision-making slots.”

He continued, according to the New York Times: “Three women were elected vice president of the Council of State, two of them Black — not only for being Black, but for their virtues and qualities.”

While the shift is historic, many Cubans remain skeptical that administration swaps will translate into real change for Black Cubans on the island.

While one of Fidel Castro’s greatest victories following the revolution was creating more racial equality in Cuba, with social and educational opportunities present for Black Cubans, upon the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s, many found themselves living in deep poverty. More Cubans grew dependent on cash remittances sent from the United States, but a vast majority of the Cuban-Americans sending money were white, leaving Black Cubans with little monetary help.

“It won’t change their socioeconomically difficult lives,” Katrin Hansing, a professor at Baruch College in New York who is studying racial inequality in Cuba, told the newspaper. “The Communist Party will not change because there are three more Black people at the top.”

Even if Chapman Waugh and Jhonson Urrutia’s promotions were symbolic, some do believe their role as vice presidents is momentous. For Alejandro de la Fuente, a Cuba studies professor at Harvard University, recognizing that the Cuban government under the Castros has largely been regarded as one made up of old, white men, the new diversity is a welcomed step in the right direction.

“Even if this was window-dressing, it would mean they feel the need to dress the window in a certain color, and that is something one would not have said 30 years ago,” he said.

Cuba isn’t the only Latin American country with a Black woman vice president. Early this month, Costa Rica made history as the first country in the Americas to elect a Black female VP, Epsy Campbell Barr.

Read: Meet The Afro-Cuban Sisters Making Cigars That Celebrate The Beautiful Shades Of Black Women

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The Spanish ‘Star-Spangled Banner’ Is Being Shared To Honor Hispanic Workers Fighting COVID-19

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The Spanish ‘Star-Spangled Banner’ Is Being Shared To Honor Hispanic Workers Fighting COVID-19

There’s no denying that the world looks a lot different now than it did in 1947. And while the list of all of the positive changes that the decades stretching between now and then have done for the world and minorities, a recent campaign is also highlighting the ways in which our current president could take some notes on certain values the United States held dear during this time. Particularly ones that had been pressed for by one of our former presidents.

As part of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “Good Neighbor Policy” effort, he worked to promote positive and healthy relations between the United States in Latin American countries.

At the time Rooseveltaimed to ensure that the North, Central and South American countries avoided breaking under the influence of Axis countries during World War II. As part of this campaign, Roosevelt comissioned a Spanish and a Portuguese version of the U.S. national anthem. According to Time Magazine he also “recruited Hollywood to participate in this Good Neighbor Policy; Walt Disney went on goodwill tour of South America, hoping to find a new market for his films, and ended up producing two movies inspired by the trip: Saludos Amigos (1942) and The Three Caballeros (1944). The Brazilian star Carmen Miranda also got a boost, and her role in The Gang’s All Here made her even more famous in the U.S. And alongside these cross-cultural exchanges, the U.S. government decided it needed an anthem that could reach Spanish speakers.”

According to NPR, Clotilde Arias, wrote wrote the translation at the end of World War II, was born in the small Peruvian city, Iquitos in 1901 and moved to New York City to become a composer when she was 22-years-old. Her version of the anthem is now part of an exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

Now in an effort to support Latino communities affected by the coronavirus, the non-profit We Are All Human Foundation’s Hispanic Star campaign commissioned the a remake of the song.

Hoping to raise awareness of its Hispanic Recovery Plan and efforts to help to connect Hispanic small businesses and workers with resources during the pandemic, the campaign brought the old recording from obscurity.

For the song, the 2019 winner of the singing competition La Voz,  Jeidimar Rijos, performed “El Pendón Estrellado.” Or, “The Star-Spangled Banner.” 

The song has already received quite a bit of comments and support on Youtube.

Hang in there, fam. We can only get through this together.

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Cuban Doctors Arrive In Italy To Combat The Coronavirus– Demonstrate History Of Global Humanitarian Commitment

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Cuban Doctors Arrive In Italy To Combat The Coronavirus– Demonstrate History Of Global Humanitarian Commitment

Communist-run Cuba received a round of applause yesterday after it was shown that the country had dispatched a fleet of doctors and healthcare providers to Italy.

Since the 1959 revolution, the Caribbean country has sent Cuban medical personnel overseas to disaster sites around the world, particularly in poor countries.

Cuban medical internationalism is the Cuban program that has sent doctors to the most underserved corners of the world. Its broad sweep of mission program has seen the country attend to 37 countries in Latin American countries,33 African countries and 24 Asian countries. In the face of the 2010s Cholera outbreak in Haiti and West Africa, the Cuban doctors played a key part in the relief.

And while a — research study pointed out that the country has provided more medical personnel to the developing world than all the G8 countries combined, Cuba’s aid to Italy in the time of the Coronavirus pandemic is notably surprising. After all, this is the first time that Cuba has sent an emergency unit to Italy, one of the world’s richest countries and also the one worst affected by the disease. Cuba’s presence there demonstrates it’s import as a medical commodity.

On Monday, the Cuban doctors were seen arriving in Italy to assist in combatting Covid-19.

According to Reuters, this is the sixth medical group that Cuba has sent in recent days to fight the spread of the disease. Recently it sent contingents to doctors to its socialist allies Venezuela and Nicaragua. It also sent doctors to Jamaica, Suriname, and Grenada.

“We are all afraid but we have a revolutionary duty to fulfill, so we take out fear and put it to one side,” Dr. Leonardo Fernandez, an intensive care specialist from Cuba, told Reuters on Saturday. “He who says he is not afraid is a superhero, but we are not superheroes, we are revolutionary doctors.”

Cuba’s healthcare system was built with the help of its former Soviet Union ally but many of its advances have collapsed in the wake of the communist bloc’s fall.

In the aftermath of the Soviet Union’s collapse, Cubans have bemoaned their lack of access to medicine, hospitals have become dilapidated.

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