Learn more about specific causes in Cuba that you can get involved in.
EnvironmentThe recent increase of American tourism on the island of Cuba has brought environmental policy to the forefront of Cuban politics. Officials are concerned that the massive increase in tourism will harm and possibly destroy the well-preserved wildlife present in the ecosystem.1 Cuba has taken substantial action, creating agencies like the National Parks Service and the National Commission of Environmental Protection to protect the delicate ecosystem.2 Roughly 60% of Cuba’s agricultural land is negatively impacted by soil degradation, and water and air quality have declined in recent years.3 Cuba has begun to create new climate change policies, including the construction of reservoirs to help decrease water shortages. Cuba is also vulnerable to hurricanes.4
FamilyThe Cuban Revolution changed ideas surrounding the roles of women and sexuality in society, emphasizing the importance of economic and social liberation of women. The country has seen a rise in single-parent households, usually single-mother households, in recent years. It is not uncommon to have a child, mother, and grandmother in a home without any male figures.1 Currently, domestic violence is not a crime in Cuban law, and reports of domestic violence often go unanswered by the police and unreported by the media.3
Human RightsThe largest human rights concerns in Cuba are abuses perpetrated by the government to maintain its power. Those who advocate for human rights or oppose the government are relentlessly repressed.1 The government actively extinguishes opposition through a myriad of ways, including unlawful detentions, beatings, threats of long term imprisonment, public acts of shaming, termination of employment, unfair and partial trials, and forced exile. Basic human rights are continually denied to Cuban citizens by the government, and police authorities often use public beatings to instill fear in the Cuban public. Other developments include short-term prison sentences for human rights defenders and independent journalists, but a large increase in short-term detentions, threats, and harassment. The government controls all media outlets and denies labor rights such as collective Read More bargaining and the prohibition of forced labor.2 Show Less
PovertyStrict government controls and the lack of published data make it difficult to discern how much of the Cuban population is living in poverty. The Borgen Project states that the percentage could be anywhere from 5-26% of the nation.1 The invasion of the government into every area of citizens’ lives makes it nearly impossible for them to invest or create more wealth beyond what is needed day-to-day. Many families suffer from shortages of various commodities at some point or another.2
ReligionThe constitution of Cuba officially guarantees freedom of religion, but the reality of strict government control undermines the true freedom with which religion is practiced in Cuba. It is up to the government’s discretion to recognize religions and grant building permits for places of worship. There is a governmental Office of Religious Affairs that has the power to accept or decline the entrance of religious visitors and the importation of certain religious literatures.1 Nearly 85% of the Cuban population identifies with Roman Catholicism. Other religions groups represented in Cuba include Protestant denominations, Afro-Caribbean religions, Judaism, and Islam.2
Clean Water96% of Cubans have access to improved water sources and 95% have access to sanitation facilities. This number, however, varies depending on geographic location. In rural areas, only 90% of the population has access to improved water sources and 89% have access to sanitation facilities.1 In the years leading up to 2017, Cuba has been plagued by a drought, which also has damaged the arability of the soil. 2
EconomyCuba’s economy is one of the most restricted in the world. Cuba ranks 177th out of 178 countries surveyed for economic freedom, placing it just above North Korea in the international listing. Restrictive property rights, rampant corruption, limited enforcement of law, and extensive government regulation hinder economic development.1 6% of youth ages 15-24 are unemployed, and 2% of the total population is unemployed. The tension between loosening the current socialist economic system and the government’s desire for political control over the economy has plagued Cuba for years. 2
GovernmentThe Republic of Cuba is categorized as a communist state. The state controls virtually all aspects of society.1 The government also actively represses forms of dissent. According to Transparency International, Cuba ranks 60 out of 176 countries measured on the Corruption Perceptions Index, and the Cuban public scored their own government 47 out of 100 for perceived corruption.2 Political dissidence in Cuba is a crime punishable by law. Those who may have some affiliation with government opposition are subject to detention and may be denied impartial hearings, parole, or held without charge.3
HealthThe maternal mortality rate in Cuba is 39 deaths per 100,000 live births. The infant mortality rate is a little over 4 deaths per 1,000 births. The average life expectancy is 79 years.1 Cuba’s healthcare is largely considered to be very effective and is one of the primary reasons that their life expectancy is one of the highest in the region. The country regularly attracts individuals internationally who are in search of medical attention inaccessible in their own countries. The major weaknesses of the Cuban health system are largely due to a shortage of medical equipment and medicine.2 Cuba is still very prone to cholera outbreaks because their water sources are frequently contaminated. Citizens in Cuba can get cholera by drinking untreated water and undercooked Read More street food.3 Show Less
ChildrenChild labor and child trafficking are serious threats to the well-being of children in Cuba. Child prostitution and sex tourism are prevalent in populations of young girls made vulnerable due to poverty, abandonment, or social exclusion. Cuba is ranked as a Tier 2 country according to the US Department of State’s 2017 Trafficking in Persons Report. The country recently moved down from Tier 3, indicating significant improvements in the realm of child protection. The report cites government efforts to prosecute offenders and provide services for children affected by child labor or sex trafficking.1
EducationWhile Cuba was a newly communist country in 1959, the education became a top priority for the government. The country is considered to have the best education in Latin America and the Caribbean.1 99.85% of the population is literate, and 13% of GDP is spent on education annually. School life expectancy for the average student is 14 years.2
AnimalsThe caribbean island of Cuba lies within the Neotropical ecoregion. Dry forests make up nearly half of the landscape, but the lowlands contain more tropical climates. There are more than 200 endemic species in this area, including the Priotrochatella constellata snail and birds like the tocororo, zunzuncito, or the sabanero. There are areas protected by the government, but many species remain threatened by potential habitat loss from human activity. Environmental dangers include deforestation, slash and burn agricultural habits, and the production of coal.1
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