Cuba’s Complicated History with Santeria

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Photo courtesy of Paolo Gianfrancesco

A current issue affecting Afro-Cubans today is the desire for religious tolerance. Pope Benedict XVI, in his visit to Cuba this year, declined to meet with any leaders of the Santería religion. Pope Benedict met with leaders of institutional, monotheistic faiths in Cuba, but with no Santería priests. This is a pretty hurtful slight considering the fact that as many as 80 percent of Cubans observe some form of Santería or other Afro-Cuban religion. In the article, writer Andrea Rodriguez quotes a Santero priest, Lazaro Cuesta, on the issue: “we live in the basement, where nobody sees us… “We have already seen one pope visit … and at no moment did he see fit to talk to us”.

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When Africa, Asia and the Americas Unite

Libya and Angola OSPAAAL posters. Their posters often feature a small weapon of defense. Large weapons of destruction, such as planes and bombs, are only used by the imperial oppressor.

Libya and Angola OSPAAAL posters. Their posters often feature a small weapon of defense. Large weapons of destruction, such as planes and bombs, are only used by the imperial oppressor.

In the post-colonial era, new and sometimes unexpected coalitions have been built that address the lasting effects of colonialism and imperialism. The term “tricontinental solidarity” focuses on alliances that have been built among people from Africa, Asia and Latin America, as these continents were the focus of colonial expansion. The Organization of Solidarity with the People of Asia, Africa and Latin America (OSPAAAL) is a Cuban political movement dedicated to building solidarity between these three continents while addressing issues of globalization, imperialism, neoliberalism and human rights abuses. Their publication Tricontinental Magazine and their brightly colored posters serve as one way they promote global social justice. The organization was founded in 1966 after the Tricontinental Conference in Havana, Cuba, which included over 500 delegates from various countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. The conference was inspired by the Bandung Conference in 1955, an African-Asian alliance that worked to confront colonialism by the West.

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A Healthy Chicago, Peace by Peace

Cook County Hospital house staff officers on strike in 1975. Photo courtesy of the Chicago Tribune.

Cook County Hospital house staff officers on strike in 1975. Photo courtesy of the Chicago Tribune.

Jack Pizzy is a British filmmaker who began his career as a television anchor and reporter. His documentary I Call It Murder was first aired on the BBC television program Man Alive in 1979. The film depicts Cook County Hospital in Chicago before it closed in 1975 due to a lack of funding. Because the hospital was public, many of Chicago’s poor communities relied on its services. The documentary focuses on violence as being a major problem in Cook County; most of the patients suffered from severe gun and knife wounds. Pizzy even remarks of Cook County saying,

The most common fatal complication of pregnancy is gunshot wounds.

The documentary also shows that many of the fatally injured patients at Cook County Hospital were initially turned away by other hospitals because of poverty and racism — since many of the patients lacked medical insurance and were Black or Latino. Perhaps more depressing is that nearly forty years later, the interplay of poverty, racism, violence and access to healthcare still exists.

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Unequal Protection Under the Law

Please be aware this video uses strong language. Due to the nature of the topic, we felt it was appropriate to include this taped encounter in the post.

This past summer, the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) released a smart-phone app to record stop-and-frisk activities by police. The NYCLU has said that the Stop-and-Frisk Watch App “will empower New Yorkers to monitor police activity and hold the NYPD accountable for unlawful stop-and-frisk encounters and other police misconduct.” Similarly, the ACLU-NJ released Police Tape, an app that can be used to record police interactions in a secure fashion. Both apps allow people to activate a recording device that can record police activity discreetly. Once recording has been completed, the data can be instantly submitted to the ACLU or NYCLU. They can store it in case your phone is destroyed or confiscated and evaluate it to see if any rights have been violated. The apps also offer legal information to help users better understand their own rights. These programs work to encourage police accountability by making their interactions with citizens easy to report and accessible to the public.

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