The constitution of Cuba, in force since 1976,
says that a person or organization can present draft laws to be discussed publicly
in parliament. Our organization, the Federación
Latinoamericana de Mujeres Rurales has collected more than 41,000 signatures. The National Assembly has so far ignored the claim of thousands of Cubans
and has denied them a response. Therefore, our organization has led a
nonviolent movement under the campaign which has the theme “With the same coin”, under the campaign which has the theme “With the same coin”, demanding an end to economic apartheid and to be given
human rights in Cuba. The ruler Raúl Castro said that many people want the
dual currency economic system in Cuba to be eliminated. Nowadays, the number of establishments that operate
in foreign currency but accept the national coin is growing because of the pressure of our organization’s
claims. We have no reason to believe in the honesty of the
political system in Cuba and government representatives. A long list of arbitrary arrests, raids to confiscate
the signatures and all other violations of civil rights leave the people with
little hope for that the government will follow the law. We also openly oppose the totalitarian
power, as we did with the Ladies in White
whom we marched with in 2003, before it was a movement. Bills providing real protection for sexual harassment and
domestic violence have never been approved or discussed. The government has failed to establish effective
enforcement procedures to protect the lives of women who are at risk of death. Moreover, there is no law making fathers responsible
for the support of their children if the father and mother divorce. The current law only
makes the father pay a symbolic monthly figure, which is not even enough for one day of food. Hitting a child is not a crime in Cuba,
but the right of parents. The number of children with cerebral
paralysis continues to grow because hospitals have to be economical. I mention these aberrations so that you have an idea of what
kind of parliament it is that we’re dealing with. We have been plagued with a series of arbitrary arrests,
harassment and threats so that we cannot even talk, let alone act. The dual currency has hurt the soul of the Cuban nation. One of the main goals that FLAMUR has always had has been campaigns
focusing on the rural population, the affected parts of the rural population
and especially rural women. Somehow, they feel the weight of this
economic malaise more than the rest of the country. Cuba has for the most part, always been a predominately
agricultural country and we have forgotten that. When a woman has economic freedom,
she has political freedom. Last year, on April 18th, we delivered a
complaint to the Attorney General’s office because there has not been a response to our petition, which has 40,000 citizen signatures. We planned the entry, for example, of
couples in exchange establishments, we sat at a table, ate, and then
paid 25 pesos for CUC, the equivalent to the price they were offering at the cafeteria, or the entity where the food was purchased. Then we pay with Cuban pesos and
we tell them, we demand: “This is our right, paying in Cuban pesos,
which is what Cuban workers are paid in.” We have suffered repression; we have
suffered arrests, but… it has been done. Look, maybe the Cuban people might be a little scared. It’s human, to be scared. They all have this economic problem. Women working in a market, have this economic problem, all of us. No one is paid in foreign currency. They all have to deal with the low salary
that the government pays. I like to defend rights because
I think it is not right for it to happen. The FLAMUR was founded in 2002. I was not president
then, as I said, I joined some time later.

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