Calixto Sarduy Arcia Psycho-Pedagogical Medical Center

"Yoel was a patient who entered at 5 years of age, and with the protected workshops, which is nothing more than the right of his legal guardians to remove him from the center. He signed the necessary documentation that allowed him to get a job and join society, always under the supervision of a guide."

"He was here for more than 25 years, a child who was moderately mentally retarded with an added epilepsy, and yet today he works, married, built his own family, and lives in Holguín.

This brief story comes to 26 from the voice of Dr. Armando Juan Montero Avilés, director of the Calixto Sarduy Arcia Psycho-Pedagogical Medical Center, located in the provincial capital and known to many as the "home for the handicapped". Las Tunas was the second territory in the country to have a facility of this type, which is why some of those admitted come from other provinces.

Its social purpose is to care for patients with severe and profound intellectual disabilities or physical and motor disabilities. One of its main aims is medical care, rehabilitation, and incorporation into social life in the future.

"Here we have 'children' with more than 40 years in the institution, and we know that they are not children, but we call them that way because of the love we have for them, because of the innocence they represent. They are patient and we are aware of that. The predominant age groups are between 25 and 49 years old.

"We feel the satisfaction of working with them. Many of them came here unable to walk or talk, and here they have been able to socialize, thanks to the rehabilitation team, which has managed to develop their potential and link them to different activities of daily life".

Dr. Armando Juan Montero Avilés


To enter this entity, the cases go through a medical commission. When they are approved, a social history is taken, in which general data is collected, including whether they have a father, mother, or legal guardian.

"Thanks to the new Family Code, we decided to visit the relatives of those who live in the province, not to notify them that they are here, but to bring them closer to everything we do, to give them the support they need.

Calixto Sarduy Arcia Psycho-Pedagogical Medical Center"Unfortunately, there are absent relatives, they used to come more often; we know that the economic situation also influences this, especially transport. To provide a solution, based on the work of the social workers in the municipalities, we have managed to restructure the parents' council, so that they understand the importance of holding the meetings established in the Procedural Manual. They should take place once a year and now we do it every six months," continues Montero Avilés.

The center's staff are confronted daily with the fact that many parents refuse to be part of their children's lives there, believing that, by being in a facility of this nature, they can be completely relieved of their duties. And yes, this place, as a state institution, will not leave them alone, but it does not replace parental duties, not to mention the benefit to the patient's quality of life that such caring communication implies.

"In the work, we do to promote social integration, the psycho-pedagogues stand out, who ensure that some of those who do not have the basic skills such as brushing their teeth can take on day-to-day activities, through the ABCs they are taught, such as washing, combing their hair, putting on their uniform, eating....

"Their learning is evident and they can make considerable progress, always looking out for their best interests, if the love of the home they come from is close by. That is my call," concludes the doctor.

The rehabilitation process has recently included the rescue of the vegetable garden, and every posture in promotion speaks, from its greenery, of the eagerness to grow of such special peasants.


Marina Pereira Martínez, a lawyer at the Las Tunas Delegation of Collective Law Firms, is one of the professionals from this legal body who, in her daily practice, goes into greater depth on issues related to the care of people with disabilities, whose more detailed treatment was one of the novelties brought in by the Family Code.

"In Cuba, since the beginning of the revolutionary process, the full social integration of citizens with physical or mental deficiencies has been sought, and it is the 'right' that regulates these social situations."

Calixto Sarduy Arcia Psycho-Pedagogical Medical Center"Taking into account what is established in the Constitution of the Republic, a whole body of law has been elaborated to protect this sector of the population, ranging from social, economic, and labor policies to the remaining development laws that complement them.

"To talk about the existing protections, we must analyze what is regulated in the Magna Carta, which gives full force to the principle of equality. It is endorsed in Title 5 of Rights, Duties, and Guarantees in Chapter 1, which establishes that all persons are equal before the Law, receive the same protection and treatment from the authorities, and enjoy the same rights, freedoms, and opportunities, without any discrimination on grounds of sex, gender, sexual orientation, identity, ethnic origin, skin color, religious belief, disability, national or territorial origin or any other condition or circumstance.

"This right is complemented in our Family Code in a new way because, for the first time, there is a title dedicated to those living with disabilities".

To comply with the provisions of these two legal norms, there must be a correlation between the State and the family, to guarantee the protection of persons with disabilities, which makes them worthy of differentiated legal treatment. They have the right to a dignified family life and to be included in the community and social structure.

"Furthermore, they have the right to an independent life, without interference from others who want to direct, lead, and decide for them. They also have the right to habilitation and rehabilitation, and the code also includes their sexual and reproductive rights.

"It refers especially to the duty of families even when that individual is placed in a state institution. The legal guardians must be concerned about their health in case they are hospitalized; maintain this link, systematic communication, and provide them with loving care", Pereira Martínez points out.

In these vital dynamics and clarifications, the role of the State and social entities in the education and promotion of such rights is not neglected, but the Law is more than precise in defining responsibilities in its legal language, which we can well translate: family, you cannot forget about your loved ones, you need them, they need you.


In the many experiences accumulated by the psycho-pedagogical medical center of Las Tunas in its four decades of existence, names such as Fernando, who has already returned to his home in Manatí, or Juan Emilio, in Jobabo, are smiles of victory to see them active in the social maelstrom, reflections of what commitment and love can achieve. Here, triumph is the same as putting on shoes, getting a job, or a kiss from mum or dad that is not so sporadic and cold.