SEMlac reports

SEMlac reports (334)


Martha was 18 when she got HIV-infected. "I simply never expected it," she told SEMlac 10 years after she was diagnosed.

"I had unsafe sex with my boyfriend and my life radically changed. I felt completely powerless," she added. "I have nothing to do with AIDS," she used to think.

The virus knows no race, sex or age. Men make up 81 percent of HIV-positive people in Cuba, and 89 percent of them are men having sex with men.

Women, however, are highly vulnerable and account for 19 percent of overall cases (around 14,000).


Cuban filmmaker Humberto Solás (1942-2008) rediscovered the city of Gibara around a decade ago, when he decided to hold his International Low-Budget Film Festival there.

Located in the eastern province of Holguín, 775 kilometers away from Havana, Gibara hosted the annual event until last year.

The Festival has strongly promoted the use of digital technology to make high-quality movies.

"Humberto truly loved this place, not only for its natural beauty, but also for its people," said Elia Solás, one of his sisters and scriptwriters.


Family law in Cuba and elsewhere needs to be adapted to structural, demographic, socio-economic and cultural developments.

Speaking at the closing ceremony of the 6th International Conference on Family Law, which was held earlier this month in Havana, Leonardo Pérez, a full professor of civil law at the University of Havana, highlighted the need to apply a new legal approach to families whose members have been married before.

"They got divorced or their spouses passed away," he added.

Conference participants reviewed conflict situations like those arising from assisted reproduction, children's adoptions, and consensual and same-sex marriages.


Sports competitions can act as a catalyst for various forms of violence, an expert indicated.

This was clearly seen at the latest children's sports games in the Cuban capital.

"Finish with him, sweep him away," a father (Juan C. Ceballos) yelled at his 11-year-old son Daniel, over a judo fight. "Have no mercy on him", shouted his trainer.

"It is a fact that violence is deeply rooted in male-chauvinistic culture. It provides an indispensable tool to show your strength and power not only to men, but also to women," wrote researcher Julio C. González in an article entitled Masculinity and violence in sports.


Adriana Roca (25) is pregnant for the first time. She has a dizzy turn once in a while, but hopes to get over it shortly after the first quarter ends. She is really worried, however, about her anemia.

She takes her medications (folic acid and ferrous sulfate) as prescribed by her doctor, and she is now eating spinach, pepper and lentil on a regular basis.

"Iron deficiency is frequently seen in the local population, and can cause a type of anemia that poses a health problem on the island," said Magalis Padrón, coordinator of the National Anemia Prevention and Control Program, at the National Institute of Nutrition and Food Hygiene.

"Risk groups include mostly small children, pregnant women and reproductive-age women," she added.


Local women outlive men and die mostly of non-transmissible chronic diseases.

With a life expectancy exceeding 80 years, Cuban women are suffering from and dying of "daily life", an expert indicated.

"Traditionally assigned gender roles have quite an impact on disease occurrence and health-related problems," a research work revealed.

Entitled Cuban women and social change in the last 50 years, the study was conducted by a multidisciplinary group in mid 2010.


Cuba's Danays Bautista made news last spring in Madrid. I immediately recognized her voice when she said: "I really needed to come."

With no dramatic overtones, she told me about her accident in a subway, chopping off her arm and leaving her injured for the rest of her life.

She had to endure all that pain without seeing what was going on at Numancia Station. She simply fell. Fortunately, a passenger quickly activated the hand brake and saved her.

She also told me that she was very thankful to Gregorio Marañón Hospital staff for all their care, especially after she was informed of the amputation that had to be performed.


Sensitization workshops have been successfully held under a community-based Comprehensive Development Project in Alamar, a residential district in East Havana.

Local students at the Cuba-South Africa Friendship junior high school have become aware of the fact that acts of violence do not only include physical aggression, but also psychological abuse and many other manifestations.

First implemented in 1988, following a suggestion by President Fidel Castro, these projects now cover 20 vulnerable neighborhoods in nine municipalities of the capital city.

The idea is to promote physical, social and environmental change through mass participation.


Equality is often defined as a pillar for democracy. Cultural barriers have made it difficult for women to play the same leading roles as men in society. This situation is slowly being redressed, however.

There are women presidents in four countries of the region: Cristina Fernández in Argentina, Dilma Rousseff in Brazil, Portia Simpson in Jamaica, and Laura Chinchilla in Costa Rica.

Women started taking up political positions several years ago. Election laws were amended at the turn of the century in countries like Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Costa Rica, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, the Dominican Republic, and Venezuela.

A report of the Latin America and Caribbean Gender Equality Observatory indicated that the new pieces of legislation set a minimum percentage of women (ranging from 20 to 40 percent) in government and decision-making posts.


Reed mace (Scirpus californicus) is the raw material Berta Soto has been using to make ecological paper in the last three years. This water plant growing wild in the Titicaca Lake goes unnoticed, however, to most people.

Soto’s invention has been registered with the National Intellectual Property Service (under number 9410). She discovered the process by chance, around 15 years ago, when her children were still small and she wanted them to go to school.

Born and raised in Copacabana, a settlement by the lake, teenage Soto decided to move to La Paz and work as a maid. Seven years later, however, she went back to her hometown, got married, and had her children in Isla del Sol (Sun Island).

She kept moving back and forth to sell produce in the capital city. When her husband died, she could no longer do so and became a laundrywoman and street vendor. As she was not making enough money to support her family, she took up the idea of paper making.

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