Hiding Cuba’s crimes behind gay rights lies
Mariela Castro Espin’s offensive ‘pinkwashing’
On December 7, 1990, Cuban poet and novelist Reinaldo Arenas ended his life. Forced into exile because of his political dissidence, and dying slowly of AIDS, he could no longer withstand the physical and mental torment of the disease. His brief suicide note, expressing contentment for a life well lived, nonetheless conveyed a sense of burning rage. “Persons near me are in no way responsible for my decision,” wrote Arenas, whose life Julian Schnabel portrayed elegiacally in his adaptation of Arenas’ memoir “Before Night Falls.”
“There is only one person I hold accountable: Fidel Castro.”
Like countless other gay Cubans, many of whom were executed or rounded up into concentration camps and worked to death in the name of Socialist revolution, Arenas was persecuted for his sexuality. So one can only imagine how he would react to the recent spectacle at the New York Public Library, in which a roomful of gay activists warmly welcomed a high-ranking representative from that despicable regime.
On May 29, Mariela Castro Espin, the niece of Cuba’s former President Fidel Castro and the daughter of its present leader, Raul, delivered a talk at an event organized by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. Back in Cuba, Castro (who is heterosexual) heads something called the National Center for Sex Education and is a prominent supporter of gay marriage. Asked about the regime’s interment of HIV-positive people, Castro “seemed to talk around the issue,” according to Gay City News. Nonetheless, she received a standing ovation.
In isolation, Castro’s support for gays is laudable. But her campaign for gay rights, such as it is, must be seen within the context of the repression that the Castro regime has inflicted upon the Cuban people for five decades.
The Castro brothers are wise enough to read international political currents; revolutionary machismo isn’t in vogue like it was in the 1960s. They know that a sure way to warm the hearts of progressives is to pledge support for some nebulous concept of “gay rights.” Never mind Cuban gays — like all citizens of Cuba save high-ranking members of the Communist Party — do not enjoy basic liberties like freedom of speech or religion. They cannot join an independent labor union or vote. When it comes to gay life in Cuba, “Not much has changed since Reinaldo Arenas’ time.”
That assessment doesn’t come from “terrorist groups based in Miami” or the “mediocre yellow press,” as Castro recently described her critics in a radio interview. It comes from In These Times, a left-wing American magazine that publishes the likes of Noam Chomsky. Three years ago, it ran a special feature on Cuba, including an in-depth report about homosexuality.
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