IACHR Press Office
Washington, D.C. – The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and its Special Rapporteurship on Economic, Social, Cultural, and Environmental Rights are concerned about worsening conditions for the enjoyment of economic, social, cultural, and environmental rights in Cuba, especially for women and other vulnerable groups. The IACHR and its Special Rapporteurship therefore urge the State to comply with the applicable inter-American standards and to enforce the indivisible and interdependent nature of human rights.
On May 4, during the seventh meeting of the network of civil society organizations for human rights in Cuba (Red Cuba), a report on socioeconomic conditions in the country noted an exponential increase in poverty, a deterioration of essential public services, an acute shortage of food and basic items, restrictions of the freedom to choose one's career, and violations of fundamental labor rights. These organizations said that the crisis affecting democratic institutions in Cuba makes this situation worse.
The Special Rapporteurship on Economic, Social, Cultural, and Environmental Rights has been monitoring the economic, social, cultural, and environmental rights of vulnerable groups and groups who have historically suffered discrimination in the country. The Special Rapporteurship notes how the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are affecting the rights of individuals in these groups. This could be especially worrying in the current global climate emergency context, given Cuba's geographical vulnerability to that emergency. In particular, the Special Rapporteurship on Economic, Social, Cultural, and Environmental Rights is closely monitoring labor and trade-union rights. It has identified labor discrimination as a serious, structural problem that affects Afro-Cuban and LGBTI persons and women in differentiated ways.
Concerning working women, the Special Rapporteurship notes the violence they suffer and the persistent gender stereotypes that perpetuate care tasks and housework as a duty and an unpaid responsibility which fosters the gender divide. Women in informal employment lack the protection of labor laws and the social assistance they should be entitled to.
The IACHR and its Special Rapporteurship have heard complaints from several organizations representing women and female human rights defenders who report repression against women leaders and their families if they protest against the government, especially when they do so to demand freedom and democracy.
The IACHR and its Special Rapporteurship on Economic, Social, Cultural, and Environmental Rights note with concern the feminization of poverty caused by unequal sharing of the care burden and by the relegation of women to informal work, as well as by the impact these stereotypes have on the rights of women in the workplace, to access quality employment or to establish work relationships on an equal footing. This situation is even worse for Afro-descendant women.
The IACHR and its Special Rapporteurship on Economic, Social, Cultural, and Environmental Rights stress the need to respect and protect economic, social, cultural, and environmental rights and the right to employment, both for women as a diverse group and for various social groups who are vulnerable or have historically suffered discrimination in Cuba. As stated in the IACHR compendium Labor and Trade Union Rights: Inter-American Standards, the State must fully protect these rights, without discrimination and ensuring equality. This is essential to eradicate poverty and to support autonomy and empowerment among women and other groups.
The Special Rapporteurship on Economic, Social, Cultural, and Environmental Rights is an autonomous office of the IACHR and was especially created to brace the Commission's compliance with its mandate to promote and protect economic, social, cultural, and environmental rights in the Americas.
A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for and to defend human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.