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Rosa Martinez: I am another Havana Times contributing writer, university professor and mother of two beautiful and spoiled girls, who are my greatest joy. My favorite passions are reading and to write and thanks to HT I’ve been able to satisfy the second. I hope my posts contribute towards a more inclusive and more just Cuba. I hope that someday I can show my face along with each of my posts, without the fear that they will call me a traitor, because I’m not one.

The Cost of Hiding Part of the Truth from Your Kids

July 18, 2016 |

Rosa Martinez

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Photo: Caridad

HAVANA TIMES — We parents encounter a lot of difficult tasks while our children are growing up, but educating them is the most difficult of them all.

Many people say that the key foundations for a good education are, first and foremost, love, second, respect and understanding, and, thirdly, honesty, as it’s more likely that our offspring repeat our actions than necessarily do what we tell them is the best thing to do.

Children learn good things naturally, however, they also pick up on the bad things they see around them at home, at school and in the neighborhood. That’s why it’s so difficult to raise an honest human-being, if you yourself are not, or in the worst case scenario, you remain quiet about a certain subject so that they don’t go repeating your ideas and thoughts.

Telling lies whilst educating your children completely ruins the trust they have in us. They trust their parents more than anything else, so when we tell them lies, whether we’re justified in doing so or not, they will think that all adults lie and they might even come to believe that lies can be used to get what they want.

My eldest daughter, who is very talented and studies hard, has just finished 7th grade. During the last two months of the academic year, she had to do some projects for the subjects that don’t have a final exam.

One of the topics she had to research, write about and then discuss in front of a panel made up of several teachers, was the subject of human rights. Some of the questions she had to answer in her small project were: What are human rights? Why is it important to know what they are? Give examples of countries who do not respect human rights and, finally, explain how human rights are respected in our own country.

Tania is very independent with her homework and only asks me for help if she needs me to look for information in newspapers, magazines or on the Internet. Afterwards, I normally check her spelling, which luckily for me is fantastic and, at the end, I tell her whether something important is missing or whether she’s overdeveloped a point.

In this case, I had to give her some explanations which shouldn’t be left out when talking about human rights. The first thing I had to tell her was that no country in the world respects all of our human rights; Raul Castro himself said that Cuba wasn’t the exception to this rule when President Obama visited the island.

In her research, my daughter emphasized the achievements we’ve made in Education, Sport and Healthcare, (as you might expect) are all true. However, these shouldn’t be considered as exclusive feats to Cuba, as many countries have free and high-quality healthcare and education services too.

I explained to her a lot of other things, however (in order to avoid problems) I left out the part about the human rights that are violated in our own country, such as freedom of speech without fear of repercussions, freedom of association, of disagreeing with the government, and other examples which we of course are not examples.

Not saying something, just like not doing something, is a way of lying, of tricking somebody. If I myself am not honest with my daughter, how can I then ask the same of her?

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What's your opinion?

  • Donald Thureau

    It’s encouraging to hear that schools in Cuba feel “free” enough to actually bring up the subject of human rights. You mentioned a number of them in your next to the last paragraph. Generally speaking, those human rights are respected in democracies. Cuba is not a democracy which brings up many other questions and responses which are not complementary of Cuba’s current governing system. I’ll leave it at that. You can explain further to your daughter.

    • No one is free to discuss the topic of human rights in school in Cuba. One never knows what the repercussions may be either on the child or the parent. This is a problem in Cuba that most avoid by ignoring it.

      I understand Rosa’s concern when it impacts her present and future relationship with her children. And, I admit to having no answer for her.

  • Carlyle MacDuff

    Non Cubans should understand the constrictions which are applied to parents like Rosa Martinez.
    The Communist Party of Cuba has a ‘Department of Revolutionary Orientation’. That Department maintains a file on every Cuban child.
    The ‘Code for Children, Youth and Family’ states that a parent who teaches their child ideas contrary to communism can be sentenced to three years in prison.
    That is why it would be a major risk for Rosa to explain in full the meaning of ‘human rights’ as defined by the UN, for if doing so and her daughter reveals that teaching to her teachers at school, or to her classmates, or to her neighbors, there is a risk for Rosa of imprisonment.
    Many of the articles in Havana Times can only be fully understood by those who know the restrictions which apply day by day to the people of Cuba and many of those who write them take risk by doing so, the exceptions are those like Elio, who toe the Communist Party line.
    The Castro regime’s definition of ‘human rights’ is different from that of the UN and free countries. It is only their definition which may be discussed.

  • Griffin

    It is illegal in Cuba to possess a copy of the The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Cuban dissidents have been beaten & arrested for attempting to distribute copies of the document. Although the Cuban government signed the treaty at the UN, they refuse to honor it in Cuba.