More and more young men in Cuba are moving away from the traditional masculine aesthetic and are spending hours in front of the mirror or at the gym. But they are not any less “machista” in behaviour, according to specialists meeting in the capital.
Houses with sturdy masonry walls and reinforced concrete roofs, looking like they could survive any tropical storm or hurricane, are sprouting up on the outskirts of this city in central Cuba, thanks to the development of local production of construction materials.
Homemade machines for pulverising fruit and sealing cans of preserves, created by inventive entrepreneurs, are one of the pillars of a slight rise in mini-industries in different parts of Cuba, where food production is picking up.
"How much is a species worth? What is the price tag on the services provided by a river or a forest?" These are the questions biologist María Elena Perdomo is asking to encourage Cubans to take account of environmental costs, which may apparently be incorporated in the present economic reforms.
On a piece of paper, Jennifer Rivas draws a beach, with little girls carrying bags of trash and signs that say “Let’s take care of the environment.” The 10-year-old is part of an educational programme, Friends of the Bay, that involves 322 schools in the Cuban capital.
Many lesbians and gays in Cuba find different ways of achieving their dream of becoming mothers and fathers and forming families. But this is complicated in a country where neither civil unions nor adoption by non-heterosexual persons are legally recognised.
“The people are the only thing that matters,” says agronomist Miguel Ángel Salcines, who then goes on to list a series of other “secondary” factors that have turned Vivero Alamar, an urban farm on the outskirts of the Cuban capital, into a rare success story in the country’s depressed agricultural sector.
The lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community in Cuba has won advances on issues like the change of name of pre-operative transgender persons, while they continue to fight for the right to same-sex civil unions.
“But I always used a condom!” was the sentence that played over and over in Jaime Roche’s mind when the young Cuban man tested positive for HIV in October.
Paediatrician Grisel Navarro says she is "a different kind of retiree," because she still practises her profession, goes out and about and refuses to be "at the beck and call of her family's and everyone else's needs," something that diminishes quality of life for many Cuban women when they retire from work.
The life histories of Cuban women in prison for murdering their violent husbands or boyfriends show the need for reforms of the criminal code to take account of gender reasons as mitigating factors in sentencing.
Botanist Ramona Oviedo has spent decades combing the countryside in Cuba to study and curb the spread of invasive plant species, a serious problem that has been aggravated by climate change.
Three-year-old Yanaghy García has been in the William Soler Children's Hospital, in the Cuban capital, for a month. He suffers from epilepsy, but he forgets about it all for a while and smiles at the antics of Mantequilla, a clown.
Thousands of young Cubans are graduating in computer engineering, a sector the government decided to strengthen over the past decade. But their professional future is uncertain because of failures of organisation and of internet connectivity.
Goat farming is becoming popular among farmers given land to use as part of the economic reforms implemented in Cuba since 2008. The increase in goat rearing, in provinces like Cienfuegos on the southern coast, could help expand the limited range of basic food products available to Cubans.