Michael Farris

If Americans want a glimpse of all of the good that can be done for children if our Senate decides to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), we need look no further than 90 miles off the coast of Florida. For a shining example of the success of internationalism, Cuba is the United Nation’s latest poster child.

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In articles released this week by official Cuban news agencies, UNICEF representative José Juan Ortiz praised Cuba for being “able to apply the UN Convention on Children’s Rights in a way which is truly a model.”

Cuba? -- a model in the area of children’s rights? The Communist nation was extolled particularly for advancing the right of children to “self-expression.” UNICEF’s Ortiz commended the Cuban youth group, the José Marti Pioneer Children Organization, for granting children “the possibility of expressing themselves.” This organization even “met in Congress” Ortiz noted.

The José Marti Pioneer Children Organization is the Cuban version of a long-standing Communist youth organization created to promote communist ideology. While UNICEF believes the group promotes self-expression, an award winning Cuban blogger—posting on the ultra-liberal website Huffington Post—described her own experience in the group in far different terms.

Blogger Yoani Sanchez described the Pioneer Children’s annual ritual held this year on October 8, 2009. “In all the schools in the country, today is the ceremony for the first grade students to enroll in the Pioneer organization. The morning assembly lasts longer than usual; the parents accompany their children while they put on the neckerchiefs and shout, for the first time, the slogan, “Pioneers for communism, we will be like Che.”

Observing the ceremony at her son’s school this year, Sanchez recalled her childhood experience as a Cuban first-grader. “I felt touched by the hand of the Fatherland even though in reality I was only being added to the ranks of an ideology.”

The practice of ideological indoctrination continues to this date. Describing the scene in her son’s classroom in 2009, Sanchez writes, “The teacher walked up and down the ranks and asked the children to repeat the slogan about Che Guevara.”

Michael Farris

Michael Farris is the Chancellor of Patrick Henry College, where he teaches constitutional law.
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