Gender and Democracy in Cuba / Edition 1

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In this in-depth view of Cuban gender politics and democracy, Luciak considers the role that women played in the Cuban revolution. The women who joined Castro’s revolution were considered indispensable, and a select group of women held leadership roles. Che Guevara in particular recognized the important contribution women could make to the revolutionary struggle. Most women engaged in open civil dissent and staged demonstrations, while some, such as Celia Sánchez, supported clandestine armed operations at great personal risk.

Luciak maintains that Cuba’s revolutionary government made great progress in advancing women’s social and economic rights and proved successful in guaranteeing women’s formal political participation. Ironically this success had an unintended consequence: It inhibited public debate on how to transform prevailing gender relations and preempted the emergence of an autonomous women’s movement that could effectively advocate for change. As a result, women hold very limited decision-making power in the current regime.

Sánchez was a lifelong confidante to Fidel Castro, who considered women’s emancipation to be a “revolution in the revolution.” But Cuban feminists see Sánchez as a symbol of women’s invisibility, noting that her image adorning the Cuban 20-peso note is part of the watermark, which can be viewed only when held against the light. Drawing on interviews with high-ranking Cuban officials, Luciak argues that democracy cannot be successfully consolidated without the full participation of women in the political process--and the support of men--both at the party and societal levels.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813030630
  • Publisher: University Press of Florida
  • Publication date: 6/28/2007
  • Series: Contemporary Cuba Series
  • Edition description: First
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 176
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 8.80 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Ilja A. Luciak is chair of the political science department at Virginia Tech. He is the author of After the Revolution: Gender and Democracy in El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala and The Sandinista Legacy: Lessons from a Political Economy in Transition (UPF).

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Table of Contents

List of Tables ix

List of Abbreviations xi

Preface xiii

Acknowledgments xxiii

Methodological Note xxv

1 Gender Roles in the Revolutionary War: Initiating Change 1

2 Changing Gender Relations: The Social and Economic Sphere after 1959 13

3 The Cuban Political System: Competing Visions of Democracy 37

4 Party and State: Gender Equality in Political Decision-making 63

5 Gender Equality and Electoral Politics: The 2002-2003 National Elections 88

6 Conclusion: Gender Equality and Democratization 100

Appendix: List of Dissidents Sentenced in April 2003 113

Notes 117

Bibliography 129

Index 137

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