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Cuban-American gay activists in Miami protest Mariela Castro's visit to San Francisco, New York

BY STEVE ROTHAUS, [email protected]

Gay Cuban Americans in Miami are furious that Fidel Castro's niece is meeting this week and next with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender activists in San Francisco and New York City.

"For Mariela Castro, or anybody else under the Castro dictatorship, to say they are representing the rights of anyone is an insult to the hundreds of thousands who have either been killed, jailed or assassinated by their own hands, or the nearly 100,000 people who’ve jumped into the ocean looking for freedom who haven’t made it here," said Herb Sosa, executive director of Unity Coalition, Miami-Dade County's leading Hispanic gay rights group.

Mariela Castro, whose father, Raul, succeeded his brother, Fidel, as Cuban president, is in the United States on a visa granted about a month ago.

An advocate for marriage and transgender equality, Mariela has been a visible gay-rights figure in Cuba, where until several years ago LGBT people were treated as outcasts and often sent to hard-labor camps.

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Miami, known as both a staunch anti-Castro Cuban American and one of Congress' most outspoken Republicans for LGBT equality, is harshly critical of Mariela Castro's U.S. visit.

“The Castro regime was particularly brutal and harsh in its treatment of members of the Cuban gay community and as part of its revisionist push the dictatorship wants the U.S. to believe its lies because it respects no one's rights," Ros-Lehtinen told The Miami Herald. "The Cuban dictatorship would round up members of the gay and AIDS community and send them to forced labor camps where their most basic human rights came under withering assaults.  This is all a public relations ploy meant to soften Cuba’s image abroad and it will not work."

Sosa calls Castro's public support for gay equality "a dog and pony show."

"The true LGBT leaders are routinely arrested, beaten up or simply disappear at the hands of the Castro leadership every time Mariela marches," he says.

Pedro A. Romanach of Miami calls her visit "patently absurd."

"She may be pro-gay marriage, but the very elementary rights Cubans don't have -- freedom of the press, freedom of assembly -- gay people don’t have those rights in Cuba," Romanach said. "Neither do straights."

Castro started her San Francisco visit attending meetings Tuesday on transgender healthcare at the University of California, San Francisco. She is scheduled to participate in an educational forum on the same topic at San Francisco General Hospital on Wednesday.

Later, the San Francisco LGBT Center is planning to host Castro for a discussion on Cuba's gay rights policies. She also is chairing a panel on sexual politics Thursday at the annual meeting of the Latin American Studies Association.

"She’s going to come over and be welcomed as some kind of hero by gay people and she’s not. There are anti-communist gay people in Cuba who she’s argued with," Romanach said. "She doesn’t represent anybody but herself. The real heroes in Cuba are the gay people who are pro gay and pro freedom, anti-communists who aren’t getting any publicity."

On Tuesday, Castro is scheduled to speak at the New York Public Library, along with Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. The forum is titled, "LGBT Rights in Cuba, the United States and Beyond: Mariela Castro and Rea Carey in Conversation."

From the New York Public Library website:

"In 2010 the Cuban government began providing sex reassignment surgery free of charge as part of their universal healthcare. This was the result of several years of work by the Cuban National Center for Sex Education under the leadership of Mariela Castro Espín, niece of Fidel Castro and daughter of current Cuban president Raúl Castro. The current developments in LGBT rights in Cuba are remarkable given the discrimination suffered by gays, lesbians, and transgender people in Cuba in the 20th century, as well as comparison with current LGBT movements in the U.S. and abroad."

On Saturday, Romanach sent a protest email to Carey:

"I am gay, a registered Democrat, and a member of the Task Force Foundation. (I just sent you $40 renewing my membership a few days ago. In the past, I have also been a member of the Task Force Foundation, sending yearly contributions of around $35.) I am also an anti-Communist Cuban American in Miami," Romanach wrote.

"Ms. Carey, there are many anti-Communist gay Cubans both in Cuba and outside the oppressed island. Mariela Castro represents no one but herself. She does not represent gay Cubans. If you are to meet with her, and I hope you don't, I hope you will vigorously question her about why she supports a despicable dictatorship that denies basic freedoms to its citizens," Romanach continued. "With all due respect, if this is not done, I will not be renewing my Task Force Foundation membership as a protest. Mariela Castro is despised by anti-Communist gay Cubans and Cuban Americans because of her disgusting defense of the dictatorship which oppresses the land where I was born."

This report was supplemented with material from The Associated Press.


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Mariela is going her new out of the closet friends Obama and Biden ;)

If an entire island of people and exiles cannot undo the Castro brothers and their dictatorship, how could one daughter be expected to do it? Please know that I don't defend the regime for one moment, but seriously, what can one person do to combat her father and uncle, both of whom are dictators? Maybe I'm missing something here. I do respect that this is a very sore and touchy subject here in South Florida.

as long as she has to answer questions and face opinions of others, what is wrong with her being here. we will hardly be swayed if she tries to lie about how gays are treated in cuba. she will look like a fool and any faux pr will fail for raul. let her talk, and listen, and watch, and report back, and hopefully, create change. cuban americans position of shutting the door for forty years has not worked. we can't lose by trying something different.

...hundreds of thousands who have either been killed, jailed or assassinated ??


Where was Steve when the Bush Administration allowed her three [3] visas to visit the US?

Another tempest in the teapot in a failing attempt to rile up the remainder of the exile electorate. Nothing more. I support the decision to let her speak.

cuban exile community has done absolutely nothing to help their country, all they do is criticize the US, when are they going to help themselves

There would be little gay rights in CUBA if it were not for her coming out of the closet. My partner is gay and cuban and spent time in a cuban jail just for being gay.

This is progress folks and any progress should be welcome. Please do not cut off your noses to spite your faces.

She has not come out of any closet...she is married with three children...her being here is a positive, not a negative, except in the banana republic!

here we go....the folks in the Miami Cuban community are upset again...wow...get a faaking life already.

It always amazes me that Ros is so concerned about the rights of Cubans in Cuba when she so staunchly seeks to trample the rights of non-Cuban American citizens to travel freely to Cuba.

No matter what Mariela, Raul or Fidel Castro says, these rightist militants in Miami will denounce them.

But what does Mariela Castro really say? Read her own explanation in her longest interview today, then draw your own conclusions. This is but a tiny snippet:

Mariela Castro:
Socialism with Discrimination is Inconceivable

We cannot believe that by eliminating homophobia we would be eliminating the problem of discrimination in Cuban society. We need to eradicate the trend, the archaic model of an exploitative society that makes up parameters to establish differences and inequalities. We cannot keep on reproducing these.

This is why the educational work we do is aimed at transforming our consciousness, our culture. I hope that at some point our conga against homophobia that is danced along our main avenues becomes a tradition. We’ll have to make it more artistic, find better ideas to make it richer as a cultural option, so that perhaps it becomes a historical tradition and one day, when there is no longer homophobia in Cuba, somebody would say, “remember when in Cuba this was done because there was discrimination and this conga was danced to call people’s attention to the need to eradicate homophobia!”…

This is a small excerpt.
Read the full, detailed interview here:
(April 2012) http://www.walterlippmann.com/docs3416.html

Two [2] Cuban-American gay activists in Miami protest Mariela Castro's visit....Herb Sosa and Pedro A. Romanach.

Tony Russomanno: Mariela Castro has been incorrectly reported as having endorsed same-sex marriage. The same reports say her father, Raul, also supports same-sex marriage privately. In fact, she has only come out publicly in support of civil unions, which her father is said to support. This question was put to her at the LGBT Center tonight: "You have been quoted as saying you support civil unions, but a number of news reports say you also support same-sex marriage. Could you clarify for us. Do you support... or do you oppose... same-sex marriage... and what are your reasons?" She gave a long answer but did not say if she is in favor or opposed to same-sex marriage. She said she was "heartened by Obama's support of gay marriage," even though she said he has not gone far enough because his support is not law. As for Raul, she said, " "In Cuba the president has not decided. He works. He works internally. " As a follow up, she was asked, "How soon do you expect to see gay marriage in Cuba?" She said, "We are proposing a new family law that would give the same rights to same sex couples." However, she said the Catholic Church and Cuba's Communist government officials objected to gay marriage, "so to maintain their support, we did not push the issue." "I believe if heterosexual couples have rights then same sex couples should have the same rights," she said.

At least she's in favor of gay marriage - wasn't too long ago blacks couldn't use the beaches in Miami. At least be positive that Cuba is moving in the right direction with respect to gay rights.



LGBTQ Nation: United Nations vote will lead to more LGBT murders, activists claim- By Mark Singer
A vote last week by the United Nations General Assembly Human Rights Committee has LGBT and human rights activists outraged over the decision to remove “sexual orientation” from a resolution that protects people from arbitrary executions.
Following is the list of countries that voted to remove “sexual orientation” from the anti-execution resolution:

Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belize, Benin, Botswana, Brunei Dar-Sala, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, China, Comoros, Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, CUBA.....


Viva Fidel Castro!!

Answer to Ginger

For starters, if she wasn't supporting the ex-King Castro I before and now his heir the King Castro II she wouldn't be considered as what she certainly is, an accomplice to the innumerable crimes committed by her uncle and father during more than 53 years. There is no doubt that she is hoping to being "elected" (by the royal family of course as no one else in that damned country has any saying in their destiny) as succesor to the throne to the Kingdom of the Island of Castruba"

Mariela have you ever worked a day in your life?

Mariela dont you think Cuba should have free multi party elections ?

The world has been waiting for over 50 years.

For some US gay activists to support her and welcome her is mind boggling.

Can Castro gay opponents have a political voice in Cuba?

I doubt it! Theyre beaten up and persecuted.

Mariela go home. You are no darling; we hate you

There can be no freedom for gays in Cuba until there is freedom for all 11.5 million Cubans.
freedom of speech, association, travel, religion, press, capitalsm etc . Gays in Cuba know this
and I am pretty sure they dont trust Mariela or like her.

Id love to know how many fat, jucy bank accounts she or the Castros have in Spain or in other European countries. She's not a good daughter of a Communist. I am sure She travels to Europe lives well I am sure and did not even marry a Cuban . She's an elite.

Ask Mariela if the building where her sexual institute is located in Havana was stolen ?
It had a previous owner before the Revolution

Ask Mariela if the house she lives in Havana is stolen? I am pretty syre it had a previous owner
before the Revolution. She doesnt live in a slum.
I am sure.

The Castros make Batista look like small change.
The USA and Americans are very much to blame for the misery in Cuba.

US meddling during the years leading up to the Revolution, the Platt Amendment to the Cuban Constitution, bossy US ambassadors, asking Batista
to leave, etc

Had it been a cuban male, whom these gays could "enjoy", then am sure their opinion would be different.

I still do not understand why now, all this uproar? Why not on the three previous visits during the Bush administration? Why now is HUMBIE upset and writing in all CAPS again? And why does Felix writing back to back posts? Hell hath no wrath like a gaybo scorned.

I am Cuban American and gay. The work that Mariela Castro is doing in Cuba, upholding the rights of transgenders and gay people in general, is terrific. We should not condemn a person just because she is the family of someone we hate. Let's listen to the message. Greater freedom, acceptance and change for all. That is what she is saying.


As a young Cuban I feel no respect for Mariela Castro. She can mislead many abroad but to real Cubans..?!! No! Mariela is not representing the gay rights or anything like that but justifying her father's regimen oppression toward us:real Cuba.
I was a Medical Doctor in Cuba and after 12 years living abroad her own father's dictatorial regimen denies my right to enter and visit my relatives in Cuba. My crime?!? Being vocal about what I consider an unconstitutional government that systematically violates our basic human rights.
Just remember Saddam Hussein, Muamar Kadafi,etc...'sons who stood up defending their parent's regimens until the very last minute.
It's a shame that she's defending the right of gays in Cuba but harassing other's like Yoani Sanchez...calling her disrespectful names,etc....
Mariela we don't need your words and the regimen that protects you today wont be able to do it tomorrow...So, you better come clean and update your repertoire in term of humans rights and not only gay issues.
Edgar Roca

I attended the event at the SF LGBT Center and here's my take:

Tonight %/23/12) was really a sad night for democracy as the event unfolded in an orchestrated manner which would have made the Castro clan proud.

There's a history of LGBT abuse in Cuba that cannot be easily dismissed. In addition, the motives Mariela Castros's work and now her tour of the US certainly raises questions. This is particularly troublesome when she's trying to insert the Cuban government in US presidential politics.

A couple of points that she raised but could not be debated given the format established, need to highlighted:
1) she mentioned that people with HIV where segregated in a hospital-like setting and they were treated well; in fact these were basically concentration camp type facilities that her homophobic uncle Fidel put in place. But of course this could not be debated nor raised as an issue because I would have been thrown out of the room as it was made perfectly clear by the host;
2)she also encouraged US citizens to go to Cuba and explore for themselves how things are going in the communist paradise. That is all fine and good since the more folks that visit the island, the more Cubans will learn that there are other alternatives to the one party rule her family has had for 53 years. And in the mean time, additional tourist dollars will flow to the state i.e. the Castro family. In addition, I could not ask why Cubans are not allowed to emigrate. That would have been a fair question but it was not possible under the format.

It is now clear to me that the Cuban propaganda machine is in full swing and our LBGT community is buying it line, hook and sinker with the help of elected officials that are at best ill informed or willfully ignorant of the many atrocities committed by the Castros.

Mariela Castro: The henchman's daughter!

The "princes" likes to come to the US to buy Guccis and Pradas... Cause... they are simply fabulous!Forget that the people of Cuba are living a life of squalor and misery. Go on Mariela and enjoy capitalism while you can.

WHo haves the list of the assassinates in cuba, the blokade off USA is the only assasinates in my people, I am medical doctor in cuba and see how may patients died for the blockade off USA, this is the unique reality, finish the Blockade to Cuba and forgett to my people. The democracy off Haiti, Greek, the destruction off Libia, Irak, Afganistán, this the democracy for may people, I don´t wants that.


What a excellent post ? That's really lovely blog .

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