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There was no national or international forum too distant for her to attend in defense of her

assailed homeland and of the noble and just ideas of the Revolution. Her gentle voice, steady

and timely, was always listened to with great respect in Party, State and mass organization meetings.

 

 

Vilma's Struggles

 By Fidel Castro Ruz

 

Vilma is dead.  Even though the news was expected, it was still an impact. Out of respect for her delicate health condition, I never raised her name in my reflections.

Vilma's example today is more necessary than ever.  She devoted her entire life to the struggle for women's rights when in Cuba most women were discriminated against as human beings, the same as in the rest of the world, with only the honorable revolutionary exceptions.

It was not always this way throughout the historical evolution of our species, leading her to fulfill the social role befitting her as a natural workshop where life is forged.

In our country, women came out from under one of the most horrible forms of society, that of a Yankee neo-colony under the aegis of imperialism and its system, where everything that the human being is capable of creating was turned into merchandise.

When what has been defined as the exploitation of man by man started far back in history, the mothers and children of the dispossessed bore the brunt of the burden.

Cuban women used to work as domestic servants, or in luxurious shops and bourgeois bars, selected for their good looks. Factories assigned them the simplest jobs, the ones that were the most repetitive and worst paid.

In education and healthcare—services provided on a small scale—their indispensable cooperation was as teachers and nurses who had only been offered basic training. The country, 2,009.92 miles from end to end, only had one higher education center located in the capital and later, several faculties in university campuses in two other provinces.  As a rule, the only young women who could study there were those from the most affluent families. In many activities, the presence of a woman was not even dreamed of.

For almost half a century, I have been witness to Vilma's struggles.  I cannot forget her presence at the meetings of the July 26 Movement in the Sierra Maestra.  She was eventually sent by the movement's directorate to carry out an important mission on the Second Eastern Front.  Vilma did not shrink from any danger.

After the triumph of the Revolution, she began her ceaseless battle for the rights of Cuban women and children, which led her to found and lead the Federation of Cuban Women.

There was no national or international forum too distant for her to attend in defense of her assailed homeland and of the noble and just ideas of the Revolution.

Her gentle voice, steady and timely, was always listened to with great respect in Party, State and mass organization meetings.

Today women in Cuba make up 66 percent of the technical work force of the country, and they take part, in the main, in almost all the university degree courses.  Previously, there were hardly any women involved in scientific activities, since science and scientists did not exist, but exceptionally.  In this field as well, today women are in the majority.

Revolutionary duties and her immense work load never prevented Vilma from fulfilling her responsibilities as a loyal wife and mother of several children.

Vilma is dead.  Long live Vilma!

June 20, 2007

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Vilma Espin

HAVANA (Reuters) - Thousands of Cubans lined up in the hot Caribbean sun on Tuesday to pay their respects to Vilma Espin (1930-2007), the late wife of acting President Raul Castro and one of the most powerful women in Cuba's political system. . . . Espin, who was Cuba's unofficial first lady because Castro kept his own wife out of the public eye, died on Monday in Havana from an undisclosed illness. She was 77. . . .

Cubans of all ages waited for up to three hours to pay their respects to Espin, some holding umbrellas to shield themselves from the blistering sun. Many of the mourners were women who said they were grateful to Espin for promoting gender equality in Cuba, where sexism runs deep. . . . Cuban television aired live coverage of the tributes throughout the day and showed footage of Espin's days as a dashing rebel in the Sierra Maestra mountains. The Communist Party daily Granma ran an obituary that took up its entire front page, calling Espin the "heroine of the Rebel Army."

Espin was a member of Castro's inner circle since the early days of the revolution. The daughter of a wealthy executive at the Bacardi rum distillery, she rebelled against her upbringing and joined the armed struggle against right-wing dictator Fulgencio Batista in 1956. Soon afterward she met Castro's younger brother Raul, whom she married in Havana in 1959 after Batista fled Cuba. A year later, Espin founded the Cuban Women's Federation, an organization that mobilized women for the revolutionary cause and to advance gender equality. She was also a member of the Communist Party's Central Committee since its creation in 1965, and sat on the party's Politburo from 1980 until 1991.

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AALBC.com's 25 Best Selling Books


 

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#5 - Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You're Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant
#6 - Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey
#7 - The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight
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#10 - John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 - Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 -The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 - The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 - The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 - Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can't Commit  by RM Johnson

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#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

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#25 - Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

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1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created

By Charles C. Mann

I’m a big fan of Charles Mann’s previous book 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, in which he provides a sweeping and provocative examination of North and South America prior to the arrival of Christopher Columbus. It’s exhaustively researched but so wonderfully written that it’s anything but exhausting to read. With his follow-up, 1493, Mann has taken it to a new, truly global level. Building on the groundbreaking work of Alfred Crosby (author of The Columbian Exchange and, I’m proud to say, a fellow Nantucketer), Mann has written nothing less than the story of our world: how a planet of what were once several autonomous continents is quickly becoming a single, “globalized” entity.

Mann not only talked to countless scientists and researchers; he visited the places he writes about, and as a consequence, the book has a marvelously wide-ranging yet personal feel as we follow Mann from one far-flung corner of the world to the next. And always, the prose is masterful. In telling the improbable story of how Spanish and Chinese cultures collided in the Philippines in the sixteenth century, he takes us to the island of Mindoro whose “southern coast consists of a number of small bays, one next to another like tooth marks in an apple.” We learn how the spread of malaria, the potato, tobacco, guano, rubber plants, and sugar cane have disrupted and convulsed the planet and will continue to do so until we are finally living on one integrated or at least close-to-integrated Earth. Whether or not the human instigators of all this remarkable change will survive the process they helped to initiate more than five hundred years ago remains, Mann suggests in this monumental and revelatory book, an open question.

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The Warmth of Other Suns

The Epic Story of America's Great Migration

By Isabel Wilkerson

Ida Mae Brandon Gladney, a sharecropper's wife, left Mississippi for Milwaukee in 1937, after her cousin was falsely accused of stealing a white man's turkeys and was almost beaten to death. In 1945, George Swanson Starling, a citrus picker, fled Florida for Harlem after learning of the grove owners' plans to give him a "necktie party" (a lynching). Robert Joseph Pershing Foster made his trek from Louisiana to California in 1953, embittered by "the absurdity that he was doing surgery for the United States Army and couldn't operate in his own home town." Anchored to these three stories is Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Wilkerson's magnificent, extensively researched study of the "great migration," the exodus of six million black Southerners out of the terror of Jim Crow to an "uncertain existence" in the North and Midwest. Wilkerson deftly incorporates sociological and historical studies into the novelistic narratives of Gladney, Starling, and Pershing settling in new lands, building anew, and often finding that they have not left racism behind. The drama, poignancy, and romance of a classic immigrant saga pervade this book, hold the reader in its grasp, and resonate long after the reading is done.

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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posted 23 June 2007

 

 

 

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Related files: Fidel My Early Years  Fidel Bio  Reminiscences of the Cuban Revolutionary War  Jimmy Carter on Cuban-American Relations  Cuba Photo-Exhibit    Herbert Rogers on Cuba  Cuban BookList 

Nicohola Guillen  Ajiaco Christianity  Santeria The Beliefs and Rituals   Inside the Caribbean   The Quest for the Cuban Christ    Pedro Pérez Sarduy   May Day Speech 2007