Over several months, Cuban civil society groups, facilitated by the Foundation and led mainly by local human rights activists, have worked hand in hand within their communities to organize and host children’s events nation-wide in order to commemorate Three Kings Day, a tradition that has practically been dissolved in the decades following the Cuban Revolution, in clear violation of Article 18 and Article 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Event organizers have reported the voluntary participation of approximately 5,000 children across 14 different Cuban provinces, spanning from Pinar del Rio to Guantanamo. The events benefited multitudes of Cuban families, regardless of race, religion, or political orientation, and where each child received a toy, a small snack, and enjoyed other festivities.
The details and character of each event was unique and decided upon by the organizers who best understand the context of their communities. Celebrations took place in parts of central Havana as well as the most marginalized communities of Cuba’s rural provinces. Among the participants were children with disabilities and serious illness.
“The Foundation applauds the efforts of Cuba’s brave human rights activists for their successful, national campaign to regain important space for civil society, reclaim their basic human rights, and provide thousands of needy Cuban children and families with a day of celebration and community building” said Tony Costa, Director, Foundation for Human Rights in Cuba.
Despite the overall success, some events were forcibly postponed or cancelled due to Cuban government intervention, which included the intimidation, harassment, oppression and even arrests of both the organizers and the parents of those children who agreed to participate. In some cases, the regime and its state security apparatus confiscated children’s toys in provinces such as Santiago de Cuba, Guantanamo, Granma, and Holguin, where approximately 200 toys were taken. On occasions where children could not participate, either because of government intervention or for personal reasons, organizers visited the child’s home and delivered a toy to their door. The Foundation will replace any toy confiscated by government authorities to fulfill the commitment of the civil society groups.