• Robert Spicer

Corporal punishment lawful in 19 US states: Cuba lectured on human rights

Aspects of the Cuban system

  • Husbands are legally obliged to share equally in household chores and child rearing.

  • Mortgage payments are set at a maximum of 10 percent of salary.

  • Personal injury lawsuits are rare.

  • Lay judges, chosen from the workplace, sit alongside traditional judges at trials.

  • The welfare of society is put ahead of individual rights.

  • In balancing social good with individual interests, the emphasis is on collective welfare. There is a deep sense of community.

  • In 1994, a severe economic crisis resulted from the collapse of the Soviet bloc. One consequence of this was that it was thought that more lawyers were needed. New areas of law have been developed, including tax, trademark registration, a new labour code, consumer rights, an updated contract, a new criminal code and bankruptcy.

  • The Cuban revolution of 1959 was based on humanistic and egalitarian aims. These included gender and race equality, the redistribution of wealth, land reform and the realisation of social and economic rights to housing, health care and education.

  • The legal system was of minor relevance to these aims. During the early part of the Castro regime, law comprised a large number of decrees made by the revolutionary leadership.

  • In 1976 a new Constitution came into force, together with new codes dealing with, for example, the legal profession, the judicial system, employment law and criminal justice. Legislation came to be seen as a primary instrument for social change.

  • The central, general aim of the revolution has been the creation of a system of economic well-being founded on the equitable distribution of resources. Achievements in universal free education, health care and equality are now regarded in Cuba as fundamental rights. It is generally recognised that individual freedoms have been subordinated to these collective aims. It is clear that those who oppose the socialist system are subject to limitations on their freedom of expression and association.

The question of human rights in Cuba can only be properly considered in the context of the fact that the United States has continuously attempted to undermine and destabilise Cuba’s government. These attempts have included an invasion, assassination attempts, an economic embargo and travel restrictions.

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