WSJ: HBO’s new documentary on Mariela Castro and LGBT rights in Cuba is ‘pure propaganda’

Yet another “documentary” on Cuba that is nothing more than a propaganda film to defend and promote the murderously repressive apartheid dictatorship of the Castro family.

A review by John Anderson in The Wall Street Journal:

‘Mariela Castro’s March’ Review: Changing minds in Cuba

An HBO documentary about transgender persecution raises more questions than it answers.


“Mariela Castro’s March: Cuba’s LGBT Revolution,”

Monday, 9 p.m., HBO.

As a venue for high-quality nonfiction films, HBO Documentaries has few peers. So it’s with some dismay that one drinks in “Mariela Castro’s March: Cuba’s LGBT Revolution,” which is, at best, weak filmmaking and, at worst, pure propaganda. Like courtroom lawyers, documentary makers should never raise questions they can’t really answer, and there’s no trace of an answer to the question at the heart of the film: What do Ms. Castro’s father, President Raúl, or her uncle—Fidel—think about her efforts to normalize relations between their idealized society and the transgender people who have been persecuted as a matter of policy since 1959?

Well, as Ms. Castro says, changing attitudes toward homosexuality in Cuba is a tough fight, “even if your name is Castro.” It’s the only time she alludes to who she is, or the people she knows.

To give director Jon Alpert the benefit of the doubt, he was probably under considerable constraints in making his film, which portrays Ms. Castro as La Pasionaria of LGBT Cuba, but fails to address what any viewer would want to know—namely, what Ms. Castro’s mission is all about and why it doesn’t include asking her father to change government policies. Do her connections shield her from abuse, or even prosecution? She mentions toward the end of the 45-minute film that she is the only member of Cuba’s Parliament to ever vote “no” on a bill (labor legislation that failed to include protections for transgender workers). But this will just aggravate the sense in the audience that it’s getting something less than the full story.

The status of LGBT society in Cuba is a little vague: Same-sex relationships were decriminalized in 1979, but, of course, stigmas remain, and as we see in “Mariela Castro’s March,” attitudes take time to evolve. What Mr. Alpert gives us are parades, galas and baseball games, and visits with various members of the LGBT community in Cuba: Luis Perez, for instance, an older gay man, reflects on his experience in a forced-labor camp, which excluded him later from education and employment; Margarita Diaz, a former member of Cuba’s national tennis team, was ousted, she says, for being a lesbian. Brothers Juani and Santi discuss their fractious relationship as kids, when Juani—Cuba’s first female-to-male beneficiary of sexual-reassignment surgery—was a girl. “I beg your forgiveness,” Santi says, referring to his bullying of Juani as a child. It’s a moment utterly lacking in spontaneity.

“Lots of people support my work,” Ms. Castro says. How about Dad? We know how her husband feels: On a bus trip to a pro-LGBT event, they hug—everyone, she says, should have their happiness. “Sometimes,” she adds, “couples feel like strangling each other.” A few more candid moments like that would have made for a better movie.

1 thought on “WSJ: HBO’s new documentary on Mariela Castro and LGBT rights in Cuba is ‘pure propaganda’”

  1. The rather painful person at far right, with the Che cap, encapsulates what is wrong with this picture and the whole Castro “gay rights” propaganda farce. If LGBT people want to look and act like blithering idiots, not to mention undignified and disreputable, then buying into Mariela’s BS is a great way to do it. I mean, we’re either talking stupidity or lack of self-respect, if not both. Reinaldo Arenas would have been disgusted.

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