There’s Always a Prophylactic But

Regina Cano

HT file photo by Elio Delgado

“Privilege can create monsters.”  This has been repeated by many people for years in the face of signs that are frightening.

Socialist society has meant a whole list of undeniable benefits for the Cuban people, and among this inventory can be highlighted the special treatment made available to people with capacities that are different from the great majority.

I’m talking of individuals who are physically or visually handicapped, those who are hearing impaired (deaf), and people with learning disabilities, Down syndrome or some other challenge that I’m overlooking at the moment.

And to ensure that such references are not overlooked, associations were created years ago to bring together almost everyone — which included the great majority of Cubans with disabilities — who were seeking to balance the rights of people as much as possible.

In this way the Cuban Association of Persons with Limited Physical and Motor-Skill Abilities (ACLIFIM) was constituted, as was the National Association of the Deaf in Cuba (ANSOC) and the National Association of the Blind (ANCI).

People!  All that sounds noble, because this way none of those beings are left to the mercy of the cruelties and ungodliness of others.

“But there’s always a prophylactic but” as poet Ramon Fernandez Larrea once said.

How often have you seen a sufferer of Down syndrome being used by his sister to cut in line at a bank;  while he doesn’t understand anything involving bills, she takes advantage of the opportunity to make some payment or cash a check for herself.

Likewise, it’s surprising to discover how behind the disabled vendors on street corners or in the doorways of their houses, the wheeling and dealing of the black market is being developed.  Concealed behind the doleful image painted on their face or the card explaining their disability, there are often clandestine activities going on (which finally might soon become legal given the impending reforms) or even operations involving theft in the worst cases.

A pregnant woman — let’s call this a temporary disability — will go to buy a tank of cooking gas and at her side her brother or husband will take advantage of her condition to go up in front of others who are waiting.

When there’s a very long line for something in short supply and desperately needed by everyone, there always appear those disabled or pregnant individuals who leave all their able-bodied folks at home and take charge of making the purchases.

These are not the only occasions in which this is evidenced, but they are indeed the most common.  There are those that others undertake in a quiet manner and with inevitable benevolence, but which do not cease to raise discreet comments of protest.

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Regina Cano

Regina Cano: I have lived my entire life in Havana, Cuba – the island from which I’ve still never left, and which I love. I was born on September 9, and my parents chose my name out of superstition, but my mother raised me outside the religion professed by her family. I studied accounting and finance at the University of Havana, a profession that I’m not engaged in for the time being, and that I substituted for doing crafts, some ceramics, and studying a little English and about painting. Ah! – concerning my picture: I identify with Rastafarian principles, but I am not one of them. I wear this cap from time to time, but I assure you I just didn't have a better picture.

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One thought on “There’s Always a Prophylactic But

  • Really Regina…. these are your worries and concerns? A sister taking advantage of her sibling’s disability to cut lines at banks. Perhaps she should have left her sibling in a locked room at home so she could run her errands. To equate a small, small, minority of cases of “doleful” images to diminish the needs of those who strive to live typically in communities, as part of their communities is terrible. The fact that you include pregnant women in your rant is peculiar. You believe that the disabled and the pregnant should be left at home so the able bodied can go out in public and not cause a nuisance. This article is an example of why there is a NEED for organizations like the ACLIFM,ANSOC, ANCI…. to protect those individuals who struggle on a every day basis from being excluded from such ordinary activities such as banking and shopping. Shame on you!!!!!

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