A Big Complaint to Lodge

Maria Matienzo Puerto

Dr. Alberto Roque. Photo: www.cubaunity.com

HAVANA TIMES, April 17 — I just finished a workshop at the Center for Sex Education (CENESEX) titled “Sexual Rights as Human Rights.” The facilitator was Dr. Alberto Roque.

It was good. I learned a few things, reorganized a few ideas that I had floating around, and on more than one occasion I felt like I had become literate.

We were a large group of women and three men. For ten days I listened to their experiences.

We talked about eroticism, reproductive rights, self-esteem, social activism and transsexualism – all within the plane of sexuality, but without ignoring its relationship with the universe of human beings.

It was good. I said whatever I wanted to, I laughed, I disagreed with the facilitator, and he disagreed with me.

What was important was that he didn’t try to convince me of anything, even though he knew that I disagreed with many of the positions held by CENESEX.

I don’t know if he had read any of my Havana Times posts or any other writings, but nor did I ask. And really, I don’t care.

He was simply providing me with tools that possibly (deep down I think he knew) I would end up using against CENESEX each time it took a complacent or contradictory public stand.

If I needed to evaluate all the time that I spent in the workshops, I recognize that it opened the door to my consciousness. Despite the enthusiasm I had throughout the sessions, this last one showed me how much we have enthroned fear in our society.

We had to defend a real life case in some supposed country basing ourselves on the Yogyakarta Principles, the Universal Charter of Human Rights and the Cuban Constitution.

From this I discovered that I don’t know anything about my rights, since it isn’t customary in Cuba to defend oneself against the government or by using the law. Put in such a situation, I realized that I would have felt totally disarmed before an omnipresent, totalitarian state.

This is nothing new. In fact it’s generally known. But it isn’t the same to say it as to and be aware of it.

I’m someone who’s used to sitting up with my back straight, but as Dr. Roque was reading, I felt like I was getting smaller and smaller in my chair. I couldn’t help but recognize that I felt crushed and afraid because the situation he was describing could have been mine.

Clearly, there was one difference though. In this hypothetical period of time and space, there would have been one plaintiff (or a group of them) who would face the state, also hypothetical.

In real life, I don’t even know who I would turn to, as would also be the case for 80 percent of the Cuban population. Would the government even pay any attention to me? – Because I have big complaint to lodge.




Maria Matienzo

Maria Matienzo Puerto: I dreamed once that I was a butterfly who had come from Africa and discovered that I had been alive for thirty years. From that time on, I constructed my world while I was sleeping: I was born in a magic city like Havana; I dedicated myself to journalism; I wrote and edited books for children; I met to discuss art with wonderful people; I fell in love with a woman. Of course, there are certain points of coincidence with the reality of my waking life and it’s that I prefer the silence of reading and the pleasure of a good movie.

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