One more way Cuba kicks gringo ass

Yes, they’re making progress on gay rights faster than the “freedom-loving” US of A. And guess who’s in the vanguard of this fight? Yes, it’s ANOTHER Castro…

President Raul Castro’s daughter, Mariela, is organizing Cuba’s second anti-homophobia festival this week to boost public awareness of the country’s long-marginalized gay community, this time with the approval of her dad’s government.

“There’s political support for this educational strategy. It’s the best thing that’s happened to us,” Mariela Castro said about the backing the National Center for Sexual Education (CENESEX) she heads is receiving from Cuba’s Communist Party.

She said Raul Castro, 76, “is helping us a lot … not only because I’m his daughter, but because I’ve earned his respect by working at my job carefully.”

A teacher and mother of three children, Mariela Castro, 46, took over from her late mother, Vilma Espin, in running Cuban Womens’ Federation (FMC) after she died in 2007, and has headed CENESEX for the past 14 years.


For as long as Cuba’s communist revolution began nearly 50 years ago, Mariela and her mother have been busy trying to whittle away at the country’s machismo tradition.

The week-long festival in Havana and six of Cuba’s 14 provinces, aims to increase public awareness about gay rights through television programs, movies, theater, debates and book fairs, culminating with the International Day Against Homophobia, on May 17.

Besides the educational efforts, Mariela’s group is also busy reforming Cuba’s Family Code and has proposed in parliament a bill on freedom of gender — the right to choose one’s gender, and the right to “legal union” for gays.

The legal union issue is an effort to sidestep the Catholic Church’s determined opposition to gay marriage rights.

Sex-change is another controversial issue in Cuba, after the country’s first operation in 1988 raised such an outcry that the procedure was put on indefinite hold.

“We’re getting ready a team of surgeons from Belgium” to restart transgender operations, Mariela told reporters, adding that 30 such procedures have been approved by health authorities.

Say what you like about the Brothers Castro, but they have my respect for actually putting their money–and their family ranch–where their mouths are. The late Vilma Espin, too, deserves esteem, since she, like they, was born into a wealthy family but refused to remain an old-timey oligarch. She devoted her life instead to levelling the playing field in a most un-bourgeois way.

Nice to see that Mariela is carrying on the family tradition.

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