Mercedes Gonzalez Amade

Mercedes Gonzalez Amade

HAVANA TIMES — I am always optimistic at the beginning of the year – I expect many good things to happen. Sure enough, in January I found out a number of promising things about our rights as disabled persons. Sometimes, a little of bit of information can be immensely gratifying.

I’ve been a member of ACFLIM (Cuban Association for the Physically Disabled) for years, but no one had informed me of a number of important things till recently. Thanks to the fact I am the Vice-Chair for Social Integration at the Marianao office of the institution, I was able to skirt a number of bureaucratic obstacles and to find out our benefits go beyond free public transportation.

Since I have criticized the poor work of this organization on other occasions, today I would like to share some of the positive things we disabled persons in Cuba are entitled to.

The first thing I regret not having been informed of before is that we are entitled to a monthly, 22-peso phone bill discount, something which helps our ridiculous personal finances.

We also have the right to purchase interprovincial bus and train tickets, and travel to the Isle of Pines, for only half the fare price. This is of vital importance for those who have relatives in other provinces.

With respect to education, we can pursue studies like all other citizens and can attend special schools, such as the Solidaridad con Panama (“Solidarity with Panama”) school. There are also teachers who offer home lessons, for those who are unable to leave their houses.

We are entitled to practice any sport we are physically capable of performing and thus put our potential to the test – the kind of physical and mental encouragement that is simply priceless.

That well-known saying, “better late than never,” fits my case very well.

It doesn’t matter I didn’t know these things for a long time. Now that I do, I will be able to demand my rights and, better, inform others of theirs, such that all members of the organization can exercise them, such that they don’t have the same experience I did. As soon as I find out about a new member, I will let them know immediately.

I know I’ve left out a number of benefits. One is the recent delivery of 24 new wheelchairs for our area, each at the reasonable price of 77 Cuban pesos. I will leave that, however, for another post.


Mercedes González

Mercedes González Amade: I'm 38 years old and physically challenged. I struggle daily in this life be it on crutches or in a wheelchair. I have a 12-year-old son who is my main inspiration and for who I have fought tooth and nail. I hold a position in the governmental institution that serves the handicapped in my part of the capital. In the afternoons I practice tennis well away from where I live. My intention with Havana Times is to help spread the desire to live and to do so with dignity, especially to persons with physical and motor difficulties.

4 thoughts on “Better Late Than Never: Benefits for the Disabled in Cuba

  • I am a woman leader with disability in Kenya. I was in the last assembly. I am willing to partner with your disability movement for better development in Kenya for the disability. Contact through my email. [email protected]

  • I must begin by thanking Mercedes for sharing with the world, this human drama, which is frequently ignored by those without physical limitation.
    For the past 15 years, The Caribbean American Children Foundation, a small Central Florida humanitarian association, have had the opportunity to work with ACLIFIM in the province of Guantanamo, which have enabled us to provide them with hundreds of wheel chairs, walkers, canes, crutches, bus, clothing, personal hygiene, over 100 Personal Energy Transport or PET and more, thanks to an unparalleled generosity of the people and healthcare community of North-Central Florida.
    We are acutely aware, that what we have accomplished is far less than a drop of water in the ocean, which makes both Walter and Cuba libre statements so timely.
    Together we can make a difference in the lives of thousands of men, women and children with physical impediments. Enormous amounts of wheel chairs, walkers, bicycles, crutches etc., ends up every day in the waste stream and garbage dump across the country. No social, religious, racial, political or sexual differences should allow us to ignore the needs of this vulnerable sector of society.

  • Something we can look at in a positive way, things are changing, maybe not tomorrow but it will get better…. Now I wait for Mosses and others to twist the article and somehow make this a negative thing…. :-)…… I know I won’t wait long…

  • Thanks for sharing this important information. Perhaps next time you can tell us more about your organization. And how others can help.

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