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International Updates: Cuba, Haiti and Brazil

Issue 275

Cuba passes new family code, Haiti opposes international intervention (again) and Lula soon to return as president of Brazil.

Julia Thomas Nov 18

Cuba 

Children help a voter to cast her vote at a polling station during the new Family Code referendum. Havana, Sept. 25 2022 . Photo: Alberto Roque.
A local government committee holds a discussion on the proposed Family Code. Havana, Feb. 2022. Photo: Alberto Roque.

The United Nations voted overwhelmingly on Nov. 3 — for the 30th year in a row — to condemn the U.S. economic blockade on Cuba. All but eight of the UN’s 193 member countries supported the condemnation of the blockade, while just Israel and the United States opposed it. Protests took place across the United States, from New York to Oregon, and internationally in the days surrounding the vote, demanding an end to the United States’s more than six decades of asphyxiation of the Cuban people and socialist political project.

The annual UN deliberation comes in the wake of the majority of the Cuban people voting in September in support of the Family Code referendum, which will replace the country’s 1975 Family Code and has been widely recognized as the most revolutionary, inclusive code in Latin America. It redefines family law so that same-sex couples can marry and adopt children and legitimizes non-traditional family structures and roles, including recognition of the rights of surrogate mothers and the role of grandparents and step parents in families. The code also supports equal distribution of domestic labor among people within family structures, grants rights to those who provide full-timecare  for children, the elderly and disabled people, condemns domestic and family violence, and honors assisted reproductive and prenuptial agreements. 

According to the National Electoral Council, 68% of Cuba’s 8.4 million eligible cast a ballot by the time polls closed Sept. 25; over 66% of Cubans voted in support of the code.

Haiti 

Here in New York City, the local branch of the Party of Socialism and Liberation has been going door-to-door to try and garner support for a non-interventionist approach, particularly in neighborhoods with large Haitian communities. They held a protest on Oct. 18. In Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Photo: NYC PSL.

In recent weeks, Haitians have increasingly taken to the streets to protest against hiked fuel and food prices and demand the resignation of Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who, with the help of the United States, assumed power after former President Jovenel Moise was assassinated in July 2021. On Monday Nov. 14, news broke that Henry fired Haiti’s justice and interior ministers and its government commissioner. “Henry did not say why the officials were removed, and his spokesperson could not be immediately reached for comment,” reports Al Jazeera

During all of August and September, powerful gangs blockaded key roads and terminals in Port-au-Prince, preventing the transportation of fuel and other supplies. Haitians have consistently been in the streets to demand change since 2018, when the government increased fuel prices by 40%. They continue to call for sovereignty and stand firmly against foreign assistance, but rather for self-determination in setting the course for their future. 

A proposal from the United Nations Security Council to deploy “armed action” in Haiti in order to “stabilize” the country is being met with condemnation by the Haitian people, who have been subjected to a centuries-long cycle of foreign intervention, from the U.S. occupation of Haiti from 1915 to 1934 to the Western-backed coups of 1991 and 2004 that removed democratically elected leaders from power. 

Brazil 

Licypriya Kangujam, 11-year-old Indian climate activist, embraces Lula at COP27. “Not just my inspiration, his commitment to save the Amazon forest gives new hope to millions of people of the world,” she Tweeted.

Luiz Inacio “Lula” da Silva won Brazil’s presidential election in a Oct. 30 runoff against far-right incumbent Jair Bolsonaro. Da Silva, whose political roots are in the labor movement, served as Brazil’s president for two terms from 2003 to 2010. He brought in more than 60 million votes — the most in Brazil’s political history. Thousands took to the streets to celebrate the victory, which many see as a win for the marginalized people of Brazil and the world. 

Lula ran on a platform of prioritizing restoring the social, economic, human and environmental rights that have been systematically taken away by the Brazilian government over the last six years. He has promised to stop Bolsonaro’s deforestation of the Amazon Rainforest, where Indigenous people experienced an increasing number of violent and deadly attacks in recent years. It is yet to be seen how much he will be able to accomplish, though, as he comes into office at the head of a broad anti-Bolsonaro coalition encompassing political parties from the left to the center right. 

Da Silva is a founding member of the leftist Worker’s Party in Brazil. In 1972 at the age of 19, he joined the Metalworkers’ Union while working at a metalworks factory and soon became employed at the union full-time, joining politics from the labor realm. He was jailed between April 2018 and November 2019 on corruption charges that were ruled to be unlawful and carried out by a political and corporate racketeering network of judges and elites called “Operation Car Wash.” This is a strong comeback. 

Regina Bueno is from Niterói, Rio de Janeiro. She sent us these vocal messages shortly after Brazil’s presidential election results announced Lula would again be president of Brazil. She believes he is a champion of the poor and marginalized people of Brazil.

Amba Guerguerian contributed to this report.

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