Differences between Women in Chile and Cuba

Luis Garcia de la Torre*

HAVANA TIMES — Years ago, when I first set foot and settled in outside my home country, like every immigrant I imagine, I began to look at and eagerly try to discover the opposite sex in Chile who I used to watch walking by: women in Santiago de Chile, in my case. The first thing I realized was that I didn’t have any close reference, a physical example or personality, about what women in Santiago, and Chilean women on the whole. Not a clue.

There are all kinds of Chilean women, of course: tall ones, short ones, skinny ones, plump ones, with fair hair, dark hair, with eyes like this or that. But, as you become more familiar with Chilean society, you discover that there is a typical, original and native woman in this country. She has dark skin or skin that has been roasted by a tropical sun, but natural, an even colored skin tone which is firm and perfect to the touch; with thick, black hair, which is too shiny; and a well formed body, which I would call hefty, with strong and sturdy legs.

The day I discovered this, it was a Saturday night and I had been taken out to a bar. It was a Chilean woman’s birthday and that’s where I wound up. I hadn’t been there even 20 minutes when a woman with these characteristics approached me and said in a resolved and independent manner: “it’s my 31st birthday today, do you want to be my birthday present?” That night, I discovered another Latin woman and I received happy answers to all of my questions, which confirmed what I had learned before for being a good observer, which I have outlined above, 100%.

In personality, Chilean women call the shots, there’s no doubt about that. They exist just like they do in different places, but just like there is a physical archetype that characterizes Chilean women, she is beautiful, strong, intelligent, passionate and has lots of personality. She’s a little Gabriela Mistral.

And that’s why you can typically always see them in groups at bars, pubs, restaurants or concerts, without men or partners, having more than a good time, I would say. Smoking, drinking, talking together without stopping, extroverted and taking life on. That’s what you see. I repeat, Chilean women call the shots in their country. They are a thousand steps ahead of any man, by a long shot. That’s why there is so much machismo and gender violence here, there being other factors too, because men are afraid of women here and of course hitting them is the answer, physical superiority, the law of the brute and idiot.

That’s why in the 21st century, we have seen Chile make great efforts to reach equality, equity, to end abuse and give every woman who lives here strength, respect and love.

Unfortunately, in Cuba, any legal protection women have became something political and just like the Revolution has proved that nothing works in practice, it is in debt to Cuban women, just like it is with everything else. Women in Cuba are alone. She urgently needs respect and legal protection. You don’t see groups of women laughing and sharing a moment in any public space. Women don’t mean anything to the Revolution’s 80-year-old men. Propaganda is one thing and reality is another.

There is a video online of Raul Castro shamelessly stroking the face of a military woman who is marching with her squadron, he jumps out at her and makes fun of her by touching her, you can hear the laughter of his companions in the background. In this system of government in Chile, public opinion would have driven him out of power. In Cuba, women are forsaken by a government that has been bordering on being a crazy dictatorship for sixty years where if they ask for an explanation, or take action, they are being “counter-revolutionary”.

In Chile, news and statistics of abuse are published transparently and that’s why laws and propaganda relating to their protection, and respect, take up a large part of the government’s time and efforts. In Cuba, there hasn’t been a single public complaint made by the government in 60 years.

I remember when women and their rights were talked about in posters or TV spots, or rather the figure of Vilma Espin and her great work was praised, she was the First Lady, even though she wasn’t Fidel’s wife, but his brother’s former wife. It was rather the same old story to praise her. Now, they are doing the same thing with his daughter Mariela Castro, they put her in the spotlight just by lifting a finger. Dulce Maria Loynaz fought a lot, always standing alone. Cuban women have quite a bit of Dulce Maria.

You just have to take a look at these two winning logos 2017-2018 to realize where they wage war and where they are politicized.


*Text from the book in progress “Breves and ligeras cronicas de un gusano de La Habana en Santiago de Chile

2 thoughts on “Differences between Women in Chile and Cuba

  • I think you made the author’s point regarding transparency. If things are that bad for women in Chile they must be that much worse in Cuba.

  • I appreciate the author’s insights regarding the situation of women in Chile. But I think there is more to say.


    For jobs that do not require higher education, women make 20 percent less money on average than men. For jobs requiring a university degree, the gap in pay increases to 40 percent.

    A 2004 SERNAM study reported that 50 percent of married women in Chile had suffered spousal abuse, 34 percent reported having suffered physical violence, and 16 percent reported psychological abuse.

    A 2005 study by Corporacion Humana and the University of Chile’s Institute of Public Affairs revealed that 87 percent of women surveyed felt that women suffered discrimination. According to the survey, 95 percent believed women faced discrimination in the labor market, 67 percent believed they faced discrimination in politics, 61 percent felt that women were discriminated against by the media, and 54 percent within the family.[21]

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