Spartacus Foundation's Contribution regarding Cuba to the UN's Universal Periodical Review of Human Rights 2023


The Spartacus Foundation gives its contribution on the human rights situation in Cuba. Looking at the realization of human rights and the stable state of society despite the country's challenging conditions, it must be stated that Cuba is setting a good example in promoting human rights and democracy to the whole world.

Challenging conditions are caused especially by the long-term trade embargo against Cuba. The United States has placed it in Cuba in 1962 to advance its agenda of changing the power and social system in Cuba. The embargo is a part of the economic war by United States that poses a significant challenge to securing the implementation of human rights. Sanctions prevent almost all trade between countries and, among other things, restrict tourism and money transactions. In 1996, the embargo was tightened by the so-called Helms-Burton Act, which also prevents companies operating in other countries doing business with the Cuban state or Cubans. During the Trump administration, regulations that had previously been deactive were activated and the embargo was further tightened.

In concrete terms, an embargo prevents and impedes access to supplies or parts for, among other things, society's services, such as health care. For example, Cuba is not free to buy medicines, instruments or technology with more than 10% of its components from the United States. Acquiring many machines, spare parts and medicines through intermediaries will be up to 30-40% more expensive for Cuba than buying them nearby.

Despite the challenges posed by sanctions, Cuban has made significant achievements. Education is free at all levels and system is one of the best in the world, health care is preventive and free, employment rates are high due to the strong role of the public sector, and culture and the arts are valued and participation in cultural life is seen as a right for all. There is also an example to be taken in the rest of the world in the realization of participatory local democracy in Cuba. The realization of the fundamental right to housing is secured by keeping the price level of housing affordable.

Solidarity and communion between people is strong in Cuba.

The new Constitution

One of the most significant political projects in Cuba in recent years has been the reform of the Constitution. The proposal for Cuba's new Constitution was put to a referendum in February 2019, where more than 6.8 million Cubans voted in favor of the new constitution. The new Constitution was approved with a 90.61 percent majority. Voter turnout was 90.15 percent.

Among other things, the new Constitution strengthens the rights of citizens and minorities, further decentralizes power and limits presidential terms to two.

Some Articles of the Constitution:

Article 32 h). Freedom of artistic creation is promoted in all of its expressions, in accordance with the humanist principles upon which the State's cultural policy and the values of socialist society are based;

Article 47. The people have the right to the free development of their personality and must conduct themselves with respect, fraternity, and solidarity.

Article 54. The State recognizes, respects, and guarantees people freedom of thought, conscience, and expression.

Article 55. People's freedom of press is recognized. This right is exercised according to the law and for the good of society.

New Family Code

In Cuba, this year 2023, a new Family Code came into force, which legalized same-sex marriages and granted the right to adopt to same-sex couples, regardless of whether the couples are married or cohabiting. At the same time, for example, non-profit Surrogacy was legalized.

New Family Code was approved in the midst of another test of democracy that was the national referendum. The new Family Code was approved in a referendum with a majority of 66.85 percent in September 2022. Voter turnout was 74.12 percent.

The Code defines a new "parental responsibility" that replaces the old parental control over their children. The law also provides for a "gradual right to self-determination", under which the child can be heard in court in various matters, including adoption proceedings, if they are "old and mature enough". The Family Code also opens the possibility for grandparents to have parental responsibility for their grandchildren.

The Family Code also ends child marriages, which were previously possible in exceptional circumstances for 14-year-old girls and 16-year-old boys.

The new legislation is very broad and includes many changes to family interaction. For example, the Code gives the possibility to punish those who are guilty of domestic violence, for example in the area of child custody, property division or inheritance. It also protects contact between children and their grandparents in divorce cases and also gives parents the option to choose the order of their children's surnames.

Healthcare, education

Health care is free in Cuba. This is of enormous importance for the realization of health, well-being and medical care mentioned in Article 25 of the Declaration of Human Rights. All healthcare services and procedures are covered free of charge.

In Cuba, three self-produced corona vaccines have been developed, as well as the world's first vaccine to prevent lung cancer.

Education at all levels of education is also free in Cuba. The literacy level of the population is at the top of the world. For a long time, more than 50 percent of the Cuban state budget has been used to finance healthcare and education.

Women's rights

The new Constitution strengthens Cuba’s commitment to gender equality in all areas of life and non-discrimination (Articles 41 to 44). In an Article 43 it has been said that “the State fosters the integral development of women and their full social participation. It ensures the exercise of their sexual and reproductive rights, protects them from gender violence in any of its manifestations and spaces, and creates the institutional and legal mechanisms for it”. Article 85 says: “family violence, in any of its manifestations, is considered destructive of the people involved, families and society”.

Cuban women play an important role in the various decision-making levels of the country’s political, economic and public life. Women's part of leaders in the State and the Government, parliamentarians, Governors and Vice Governors have been around or over 50 percent.

The rights of workers

The employment rate in Cuba is 73 percent. In 2014, a law was drawn up in Cuba according to which if natural, technological or health disasters prevent employees from performing their work, the employees will receive their full salary for the first month and thereafter 60 percent of their normal salary until the obstacles to doing the work have disappeared. More than 70 percent of working people in Cuba work in the public sector, so work is more secure. The large public sector has also enabled flexible and prompt corona measures.

Democracy in Cuba

Local democracy and civil society are valued and supported in Cuba. They play a central role in politics and influence. Mass movements work effectively, mobilize collectively and publish their initiatives to move society forward. The administration also has communication links with socially critical parties, and a dialogue is held with those who raise grievances.

The country's electoral system works in such a way that Cubans nominate and elect their representatives from their area of residence and up, based on the achievements and actions of the neighborhood, people's movements and state bodies, and not on beautiful election promises. It is a carefully thought out system for a representative, participatory democracy.

Latest elections in Cuba were the parliamentary elections to elect members to the National Assembly of People's Power in March 2023. 75.92 percent of the population with the right to vote used their right and followed the legislative election to the National Assembly.

Spartacus Foundation