Armed with a Pen

Views from a worker and student

Category: South America

The State of Neoliberalism in Argentina

With the economic war in Venezuela, the crisis in Argentina has been all but ignored in the West. For the Argentinian people, however, austerity, deregulation, inflation, US interference, the erosion of civil rights, and the government’s increasingly tyrannical treatment of dissenters have not gone unnoticed. As Buenos Aries becomes more and more a battleground, indigenous, feminist, and workers’ movements have risen up to challenge the Mauricio Macri administration as it struggles to keep the economy afloat while shoving right-wing, neoliberal reforms down the people’s throat.

The Rise of Neoliberalism

Neoliberalism in Argentina finds its roots with the death of then President Juan Perón in 1974. Having united most sides of the political spectrum, his passing signified the fragmentation of Argentinian politics. Though a fragile peace would be formed between the US-backed death squads of the Alianza Anticomunista Argentina and the left-wing Montoneros guerrillas, the country remained in a precarious position both politically and economically with crimes against humanity and retaliatory guerrilla activity sparking periodically.

After Economic Minister Celestino Rodrigo failed to curb inflation through a halfhearted campaign of neoliberal “shock therapy,” the crisis reached its height in June of 1975. Isabel Perón and her administration tried desperately to secure reserve funds from the International Monetary Fund [IMF], meeting several times in Washington, but to no avail. The IMF failed to come through on the previously agreed upon tranche while throwing its support behind the anti-democratic military junta, the National Reorganization Process. Less than a week after the US-sponsored coup in March, 1976, the junta received an IMF loan of over $100 million without sending a single delegation. Within five months, the junta received another loan of $260 million, the largest ever given to a Latin American country.

Jorge Rafael Videla, senior commander in the Argentine Army, swears in as President, March 29, 1976.

Economist Friedrich Hayek once said: “Personally, I prefer a liberal dictator to democratic government lacking liberalism.” Such was the view of the IMF. Where Perón needed to appease constituents, the junta was iron-fisted and could force neoliberalism upon Argentina, US and IMF money patching whatever holes were left.

From then on, Argentina would prove a loyal lackey to the US and to global capitalism. With the help of US presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan, scores were detained, tortured, and killed as the junta persecuted labor organizers, communists, and democratic activists under the guise of “counter-terrorism.” Millions were reduced to poverty as social services were slashed and industry privatized. Argentina’s debt would increase fivefold as the IMF and other financial institutions encouraged countries to take on foreign debt. From 1976 to 1983, Argentina’s debt rose from $9.7 billion to $46 billion.

This is the path Argentina has been following since, with debt reaching an all-time high in 2001 at well over $150 billion. The pursuit of deindustrialization beginning in the 1990s too has severely weakened the economy, making the nation wholly dependent on the world market and firmly under the thumb of Western neocolonialism. Today, Argentina is still reeling in the wake of the 2001 crisis and the resulting depression, the effects of which the country seems entirely unable to recover from.

Today’s Far-Right

Against the backdrop of this all too familiar instability, a growing drug trade, and the now-infamous Kirchner family corruption scandel, Mauricio Macri*, a soccer mogul and the former mayor of Buenos Aries, defeated centrist Cristina Fernández de Kirchner of Partido Justicialista in a hotly contested victory for the far-right opposition party Propuesta Republicana in 2015. His campaign was as simple and direct as his slogan: “Let’s change.”

Whereas the Kirchner’s hoped to revive the legacy of Juan and Eva Perón, instituting protectionist policies and building up social security to stimulate spending and strengthen Argentina’s once pretty damn respectable industrial sector, Macri has picked up the baton of neoliberalism, submission to the US and the world market, deindustrialization, market fundamentalism, and conservatism. The results have been disastrous in more ways than one.

Desperate Times, Desperate Measures

In 2017, the Argentinian stock market rose a record breaking 77%, the biggest stock market boom anywhere that year. That, however, is the only good thing which can be said about Argentina’s economy. As of this month, inflation is the at its highest level ever under Macri. Inflation, a drought, and absolutely punishing interest rates have only pushed the nation even closer to a full blown recession.

The value of the Argentine Peso has completely tanked, with one peso being now worth a little less than two cents USD. The government is stuck between a rock and a hard place, on the one hand needing to devalue the peso but, on the other, needing the peso healthy in order to pay their mounting debt. And with over 70% of that debt being in foreign currency, the government may already be in over their heads. The IMF is working to help stabilize the peso but may still lower Argentina’s credit rating.

To help pull the nation out of its tailspin, Marci has announced new austerity measures as part of the terms of a $50 billion IMF loan. A new export tax will bring in some much needed tax money, though critics say it may hurt Argentina’s agricultural sector. Macri has been unable to reassure exporters, responding simply: “I have to ask you to understand that this is an emergency and we need your support.”

Next year the economy will grow. Not much, but it will grow.

– Mauricio Macri

Unable to slash government spending any further, Macri announced earlier this month that half of all government ministries will be shut down. Even more worrisome, the Macri administration has presented only a vague picture of what this new minimized government may look like. It is yet unknown which departments will be closed or condensed.

The future looks extremely bleak. All we can do now is guess. It’s doubtful that Argentina will become a libertarian paradise. Marci himself admitted things will definitely get worse before they get better. What we’ll likely see is a near total roll back of all social services and the privatization of things like healthcare and education, plunging all but a few lucky oligarchs into poverty.

The Macri administration is also looking to improve relations with the EU and especially the US. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs was quick to join the chorus of condemnation over the Democratic People’s Republic of  Korea’s 2017 nuclear test. There was also an attempt to improve relations with the US’ pet Israel through a friendly soccer match. It was eventually cancelled, however, after a successful boycott by both international anti-apartheid organizations and pro-Palestine Argentinians. Not long after, in July of this year, Macri green lit the construction of several US military bases.

Deforestation and Depopulation

Under Macri, over 128,000 hectares were deforested just in the north in 2017 due to illegal action by logging and agribusiness firms. Though many of the effected areas are protected as nature reserves, local corruption and unwillingness to enforce the law on the federal level give corporations a license to illegally harvest trees and poison the land. What few fines have been charged have done nothing to deter violators. And though companies charged are legally obligated to reforest, Greenpeace has found little evidence of this ever happening. Within the last twenty five years, 7.6 million hectares were lost, roughly 300,000 a year.

Regional flooding has been hugely exacerbated due to climate change and the diminution of trees and plant life. According to the coordinator of the Greenpeace Forest Campaign, Hernán Giardini, “The floods … are not a natural phenomenon, they are a consequence of climate change and that Argentina is one of the ten countries in the world that most deforests, losing our natural sponge by the uncontrolled advance of soy, intensive livestock, and real estate development.”

Mother Nature is not the only victim. Peasants and the indigenous Campesinos have been driven from their homes both by flooding and the pressure of agribusiness. Telesur writes that paramilitaries employed by large corporations have removed thousands from their native land through coercion and violence with the help of government forces. (This, of course, is nothing new. Indigenous peoples suffered greatly at the hands of racist and fascist death squads during the 1980s in the US-sponsored “Dirty War.”)

The Movimiento de Campesinos de Santiago del Estero [MOCASE], an indigenous peasant movement which formed during the 1990s, have waged legal battles against land grabbing and the encroachment of soy. They claim more than 60 thousand families are fighting to keep their land. Though their struggles have often ended in death and defeat, their ranks have swelled within the last two years following the assassination of Cristian Ferreyra, a young member of MOCASE who was gunned down by paramilitaries in November of 2016. Some groups, such as the Frente Nacional Campesino, demand reparations from the government. Others have even taken up arms against land thieves.

Perhaps the most famous Campesino organization is Organización Barrial Túpac Amaru. The group has worked tirelessly to provide to Argentina’s indigenous with the things the government won’t. The group rose to prominence internationally after the state-sanctioned abduction of group leaders, the most notable of which is activist Milagro Sala.

Campesinos demand Sala’s the release outside the Alto Comedero Women’s Prison, 2017.

President Macri has also taken to fighting the Glaciers Law which places strict regulations on mining operations in the Andes Mountains. Mining leaders both inside and out of Argentina have fought this for years. Now they finally have a sympathetic ear in the government. As of now, opposition from Congress has kept the law alive, though Macri is still gunning for it. Most foreign investors have been hesitant to begin operating amid regulatory uncertainty, but this hasn’t stopped some national firms.

Women’s Rights and Sex Work

In Argentina, abortion is highly illegal in all cases except for rape or when the life of the parent is endangered. This too, however, has often been met with legal consequence. In 2016, a women was sentenced to eight years for murder after suffering a miscarriage. Shortly after shooting down a bill to increase access to abortive services, a woman died due to complications from an illegal abortion last March, the first known victim this year. We may never know how many have suffered the same fate. It is estimated that at least 300,000 illegal abortions are performed every year, resulting in more than 70,000 hospitalizations.

While those seeking healthcare end up in hospitals, prisons, or morgues, actual murderers have been able to kidnap and murder women with impunity. The kidnapping and murder of women has become so rampant and has received so little attention from authorities that, after national demonstrations, the Supreme Court was forced to establish a national registry of femicides. Just in 2015, over 235 femicides were recorded, resulting in a mere seven convictions.

World Justice Project reports that women are more likely to be employed informally, earning meager wages as in-home assistants or part time employees, subject to the whims of employers who frequently abuse and underpay them. Without steady, formal employment, women are unable to access free services and social security benefits. Many are stuck living as domestic servants for wealthy families or care-givers to dependent members of their own family. Those even less fortunate have turned to or been forced into prostitution, placed at the mercy of johns, pimps, and cops who act lawlessly and without consequence.

Feminist activists with body paint reading “Legal Abortion now” during the 2012 Gay Pride Parade in Buenos Aires.

Argentinian feminists have taken to the streets, becoming all the more active within the last three years. The second annual Women’s March, held last April in Buenos Aries, came barely a month after the Women’s Strike on International Women’s Day and saw hundreds of thousands of women and feminists occupy the city. With slogans like “Ni una menos” not one [dollar] less and “Tócame y te mato” touch me and I’ll kill you, they demanded access to safe abortions, equal pay, sexual freedoms, and protection from and an end to gender violence and harassment.

Sex workers, previously excluded from most feminists organizations in Argentina, have been making their voices heard. Georgina Orellano, general secretary of the sex workers union, la Asociación de Mujeres Meretrices de la Argentina [AMMAR], told The New Political she’s “optimistic” that attitudes towards sex workers are changing for the better. “I think that in terms of progress, we made the problems we face and the demands of our organization visible. We are making the sex worker visible as a political subject.”

Though sex workers have been fighting for legal recognition since the 1980s, they’ve made great strides in the last two decades by aligning themselves with other unions. In 1995, the AMMAR partnered with the Center of Argentinian Workers, which according to Orellano, made the sex workers’ movement firmly a part of the greater workers’ movement as a whole. Since then they’ve gone on to work not only with other sex workers unions across Latin America and the Caribbean but also with teachers and industrial workers unions.

Though they’ve made great strides politically, sex workers still face many hardships. Harassment from men and police is sadly never ending, housing is difficult to find without pay stubs, and most sex workers are ineligible for many public healthcare services. Their fight is still as desperate as ever.

The People vs. Neoliberalism

Resistance to neoliberalism has mobilized the working class. Worsening living conditions, job loss, and deindustrialization galvanized unions who turned to protest and striking. Mass demonstrations began in 2016 as Macri began “shock therapy” in earnest. Tens of thousands took to the capital early that year to protest reforms. They’ve only intensified since. In late December, 2017, a twenty four hour strike against proposed pension cuts turned violent as masked strikers clashed with police, throwing rocks and molotovs.

Teachers have been a leading force in the strikes. With many children dependent on schools as a source of food, proposed cuts to lunch programs, as well as pay and benefits, have put teachers unions on the front lines. In the past, teachers unions have been able to negotiate for more funding. Macri has put an end to that. In Buenos Aires, striking teachers were met with water canons and tear gas as riot police smashed the picket line during a protest earlier this year. Those arrested were held without bail and tortured.

Recent protests have seen progressive forces throughout the country working together, as workers, peasants, feminists, and indigenous activists find common ground. Opponents of the right, including the Communist Party of Argentina, have seen their support and relevance increase as more and more look left for answers. Progressive forces have faced harsh repression, however, as the state employs everything from strike breaking to torture—old tactics of the military junta.

Will Argentina reckon with its history?

On March 24, 2016, the fortieth anniversary of the military coup, Barack Obama made a hugely controversial visit to Argentina. The Mothers and Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo, two groups dedicated to finding and identifying the thousands of missing victims of the junta, called the visit “a provocation.” “It’s been 40 years of searching for our sons and daughters,” explained Nora Cortiñas, one of the many aging parents still looking for answers. “It’s our date.”

Thousands of victims, as well as those born to political prisoners, remain unknown. With the active support of the CIA, the most reactionary segments of Argentina’s bourgeoisie murdered with impunity. Similar was carried out across Latin America, especially in neighboring Chile, during Operation Condor. Even today, the government has done little to prosecute the criminals involved or find their victims.

In 2013, eighteen former military officers were tried. Some, like former president Jorge Rafael Videla, were so old they died before a verdict could ever be reached. It makes little difference, however, to the estimated 30,000 who “disappeared” and the families they left behind. Though new evidence has been declassified by the CIA and the Pentagon, Mothers of the Plaza de Maya doubt they’ll ever discover the truth. As Cortiñas remarked, “they always black out the names and the important parts. … I don’t believe there will be anything in those documents.”

The people and the land still bare the scars of neoliberalism, the old and new wounds of class struggle. Though the current government fancies itself a democracy, the problems of dictatorship still exist. The solution of the capitalist class is, of course, more neoliberalism. But the cycle of reform has failed to serve the people or silence their outcry. Will Argentinians continue the struggle for temporary concessions? Or will the fires of revolution be reignited as the capitalist order once again pushes Argentina closer to despotism and destitution?


* Fun Fact: Macri narrowly avoided choking to death after swallowing a fake mustache whiling impersonating Freddie Mercury, something he’s apparently famous for.

Right-Wing Opposition Threatens Venezuela’s Democracy and Sovereignty

Yesterday, an attempt on Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s life rocked Caracas. At a parade celebrating the 81st anniversary of the Bolivarian National Guard, several drones packed with explosives descended upon the horrified crowd before detonating early and missing their target. According to Telesur, seven military officials were injured but, thankfully, no deaths have been reported. This latest act of terrorism, the most elaborate yet, once again confirms the obvious: the right-wing opposition and their foreign puppeteers are an existential threat to Venezuela’s democracy and sovereignty.

Old Enemies

Many of the opposition leaders and right-wing terrorists today are the same ones behind the failed 2002 coup which attempted to violently overthrow then President Hugo Chavez, as well as the violent outbursts which have taken place between 2014 and today. One of the terrorists arrested in connection with yesterday’s assassination attempt was also connected with the 2014 anti-government protests. Another was even allegedly involved in the failed 2017 attack on the military base in Valencia.

As for the higher ups, to name just one, there’s Henrique Capriles Radonski, who in 2002 stormed a Cuban Embassy with other right-wing terrorists to try and kill Venezuelan officials believed to be seeking refuge there. Capriles is now a top opposition leader with the US-funded far right party Primero Justicia and the Governor of Miranda.

There’s also Maria Corina Machado, an oligarch whose anti-Bolivarian NGO, Sumate, the National Endowment for Democracy [NED] and the US Agency for International Development [USAID] have given millions to. Just in 2014, hers was among the loudest voices calling for the opposition violence that would lead to the deaths of forty three people and she was implicated in a similar failed plot to assassinate Maduro.

And who could forget Leopoldo Lopez, the former mayor of Chacao, a wealthy district in Caracas, who led a band of murderous reactionaries into a crowd of pro-government supporters in an attempt to kidnap Chavez back in 2002. For this, he would be let go; though he was later arrested in 2014 on charges ranging from corruption to crimes of public instigation and arson, all of them premeditated. He, too, is a member of Primero Justicia, as well as Voluntad Popular, both parties which have received funding from the US, the NED, and USAID.

The opposition is, of course, using the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela as the justification and catalyst for their crimes. Though imperialists and the enemies of the Bolivarian Revolution have been quick to blame the food shortages on government mismanagement, this simply is not the case. Healthcare, housing, and education have improved considerably under Maduro, an improvement even from Chavez’s great reforms. The problem is that the opposition has been destroying food shipments.

Over fifty tons of food were destroyed in just one instance of right-wing violence last year. Another forty tons destined for children in Venezuela’s rural south were burned in a firebombing by opposition protesters cloaked, ironically, in shirts and flags depicting the Madonna and Child.

Protinal Proagro, a private Venezuelan food producer, was caught burying over 100 million perfectly healthy chicks alive by the Argentina-based new outlet, Primicias 24. It should come as no surprise that this shocking story of sabotage and kulakery was completely ignored by the Western media.

Moreover, Venezuela’s food shortages have been criminally exacerbated, if not entirely caused, by US sanctions. Just in 2017, the US blocked over 18 million boxes of food headed their way.* This is entirely in line with US foreign policy. They even bragged about doing similar to the DPR of Korea, though with much less success.

As for Venezuela’s international enemies, there is, of course, Human Rights Watch. They’ve has already called for UN intervention in Venezuela and you can read about their connections to the US State Department here.

There’s also the Lima Group, a collection of imperialist stooges and neoliberal dictators who get together periodically to bully and intimidate any Latin American country that dares to oppose the neocolonial order that keeps Latin America subservient to the West and the world market. As if to illustrate this fact even further, just before condemning Venezuelan democracy, the Lima Group met with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, a move which Bolivian Ambassador Juan Ramón Quintana, among others, described as, “the prelude of a US military intervention.”

One of their biggest criticisms was the historically low turnout in the recent election. Venezuela’s National Electoral Council puts voter turnout at 48%, though most independent organizations put that number closer to 46%. This poor turnout was caused largely by efforts of the opposition. The Socialist Party’s main opponents, the Democratic Unity Roundtable, boycotted the election, an old tactic of opposition parties who know they can’t get the votes. And opposition zealots were out in force, terrorizing anyone attempting to cast their vote. Just in Caracas, an innocent woman was gunned down by anti-government terrorists at a polling station.

It’s interesting to note also that the Lima Group (as well as the US) recognizes the 2017 election of Juan Orlando Hernández, a far right neoliberal, as President of Honduras despite widespread allegations of fraud.

Even more interesting, one member state of the Lima Group is Columbia, a nation whose government, depending on who you ask, has either turned a blind eye to or actively participated in “social cleansing,” the murder of homeless people, street children, suspected criminals, and anyone else whose mere presence might ruin a cocktail party. The Lima Group has obviously ignored this classicide, a disgusting but entirely unsurprising double standard.

Undoubtedly, the same interests and even many of the same people behind the 2002 coup, the violence in 2014, the 2017 Valencia attack, and the helicopter attack on the Supreme Court are also behind yesterday’s assassination attempt.

But what is the US’ role in this?

It’s a long story…

In 2007, journalist and lawyer Eva Golinger, a vehement Chavista, called out several journalists whom she accused of accepting bribes from the US government in exchange for spreading pro-US, anti-socialist sentiment. This backfired spectacularly. The government and the left mostly ignored the accusations while the right, then much smaller, accused Golinger of trying to start a political witch hunt. The story fizzled out without many noticing or caring.

There was, however, one very important listener who took this story very seriously: the US Embassy in Caracas.

A cable, later exposed by Wikileaks, ‘IV Participants and USAID Partners Outed, Again,’ reveals that, though Golinger had only managed to embarrass herself by going public with her accusations, she was right. The US was indeed funneling money to Chavez’s opponents. This was confirmed in another cable from 2004, ‘Update on the USAID/OTI Venezuela Program,’ which detailed several programs costing more than $450,000 annually working to “provide training to political parties on the design, planning, and execution of electoral campaigns.” One program would specifically build and fund “campaign training schools” to recruit campaign managers and promote “the development of viable campaign strategies and effectively communicating party platforms to voters.”

In short, the US government was manufacturing opposition.

These programs were definitely effective. Two major far right opposition parties, Primero Justicia and Voluntad Popular, were founded in part with funding from USAID and the NED. These would not be what the are today if not for the $100 million they received from US organizations throughout the last eight years. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Though many in the West have conveniently forgotten, the 2002 coup was a brutal and bloody conspiracy by anti-democratic forces against the people for the reestablishment of the right-wing oligarchy Venezuela suffered beneath before the Bolivarian Revolution. The economic prosperity pre-Chavez Venezuela experienced was at the cost of mass illiteracy, homelessness, and poverty. Their great democracy left out millions of working class families who found themselves unable to get out from under the boot of US imperialism and the handful of obscenely rich moguls and compradors who benefited from it. Chavez changed that. Within less than fifteen years, illiteracy in the country was declared eradicated by the United Nations and all levels of education and healthcare were made available to every Venezuelan. As for the talk of dictatorship? Nonsense. Former president Jimmy Carter himself called Venezuela’s electoral system “the best in the world.”

Naturally, the US and their pet bourgeoisie in Venezuela put a target on Chavez’s back. The Bolivarian Revolution was now an enemy of reactionary forces across the world. Immediately, the US began undermining Venezuelan democracy and sovereignty and, within four years, the Observer would undercover that “The failed [2002] coup in Venezuela was closely tied to senior officials in the US government.” Then president George Bush and his team of Reaganite “Dirty War” veterans were blatantly funding, arming, training, and supporting the conspirators.

The same is being done today. As Bolivian President Evo Morales pointed out over Twitter, “Within the last twelve months, US Vice-President Mike Pence made three trips to Latin America to meet at least eight presidents from whom he demanded support for a military intervention against our brother president of Venezuela Nicolás Maduro. Those are the Empire’s coup attempts.”

Learn From Allende

Note how leniently this terrible authoritarian dictatorship has treated violent anti-government extremists who actually tried to overthrow the government. Not only were most let go, some are now in positions of power. Judging by how they’ve used this power, is it any wonder why the government may not be taking any more chances with foreign-funded terrorists, especially when the US hasn’t ruled out a direct invasion? They are not going to let some scorned oligarchs force the working people back into poverty and destitution. And as the election has shown, the working people support their government.

Their leniency, however, has been one of the greatest weaknesses.

It has never been enough for the working class to seize the ready-made instruments of the state, especially in Latin America, the US’ backyard. Chavez, for all his great successes, clearly did not learn this following the failed 2002 coup. Letting terrorists and bourgeois keep their heads will always comes back to bite you. We can only hope that, after such a close call, Maduro will heed Lenin’s words: “democracy is not identical with the subordination of the minority to the majority. Democracy is a state recognizing the the subordination of the minority to the majority, i.e., an organization for the systematic use of violence by one class against the other.” The Bolivarian Revolution and the great victories of the Venezuelan proletariat will never be safe until a workers’ state is build atop the ruins of the old bourgeois democracy.


* Side Note: Even after all this, Venezuela still offered the US over $5 million in aid to victims of Hurricane Harvey; making it one of the only two nations to offer anything.

Cuba After Castro: Cuba’s New President and Parliament

The resignation of Raul Castro is, of course, bittersweet for the people of Cuba. Elected president in 2008, Castro has stepped down at age 86 to make way for a new generation of leaders. Cuba has been led by its revolutionary heroes since 1959. The new president, Miguel Díaz-Canel, has big shoes to fill but seems more than able to lead Cuba into modernity.

The President

At age 57, Díaz-Canel never lived under the rule of pre-revolutionary dictator Fulgencio Batista. He has only ever known socialism. During his inaugural addresson April 19, Díaz-Canel vowed to maintain the legacy of the revolution and late Cuban President Fidel Castro. He is also hugely distrustful of imperialist powers like the United States, citing the Trump Administrations opposition to diplomatic normalization. He promises to work toward economic reform and modernization. However, he has been critical of the recent economic reforms. He is an ardent communist and promises to combat corruption and revitalize the Party, reinforces its ties to the Cuban people on the ground level. He made things very clear in a speech before the National Assembly, saying: “there is no room in Cuba for those who strive for the restoration of capitalism.”

This hard-line stance is not the only thing dividing him from the Party old guard. Díaz-Canel is also something of a loose cannon, known for his swagger and willingness to defy convention. He is decidedly less conservative than most of the old timers and promises sweeping social reforms, especially in regards to LGBTQIA rights. He also advocates for more critical coverage by the state-run media and wider internet access throughout the nation.

The National Assembly

The parliamentary election has been equally as historic. More Afro-Cubans and young people were elected than ever before and Cuba now has the second highest female majority in parliament in the world.

The youngest and oldest members of Cuba’s National Assembly: 19 year old Leydimara de la Caridad Cárdenas Isasi alongside 94 year old José Ramón Fernández.

53% of all members of the National Assembly are now women. People aged 18 to 35 grew to over 13%. The average age of members decreased from 57 to 49. Over 35% are of African descendant.

It seems the tenets of democracy, equal, and modernization are alive and well in Cuba. The increased representation of women, minorities, and progressives at even the highest levels of government can only help usher the island nation into a bright future. I anticipate great things from the new National Assembly and President Díaz-Canel and wish Raul Castro a good retirement.

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