Gay Rights March in Cuba Goes Ahead Despite State Security Ban
by Moises Ravelo and Clayton Littlewood
Something historic took place in Havana at the weekend. Despite threats from state security to stay at home, Cuba’s brave gay activists gathered at Havana’s Parque Central and marched down the famous El Prado boulevard, their Cuban and rainbow flags blowing in the breeze. The march was the most courageous display of civil rights protest in six decades of Cuba’s communist dictatorship and egregiously insurmountable human rights violator. Even more courageous was the fact that this kind of protest carries with it those arrested and those that were recognized in the march who scrambled and got away hefty consequences, consequences the marchers were willing to endure to have their voices heard and alert the world once again that Cuba is a violator of basic human rights. Not much has changed since 1961 in terms of respecting the gay community. In a 1960s state speech, Fidel Castro labelled homosexuals ‘sissies’ and concentration camps were set up to incarcerate them were forced labor from November 1965 to July 1968.
Cuba although seemingly giving an appearance of change in recent years only through the usual vial and deceptive communist rhetoric and ridiculous but effective “Hitleresque” propaganda lies, and not much else, except that they have in 2017 lowered their human rights violation by false imprisonment to approximately 5,000. The events that transpired this past weekend is further evidence that Cuba has its stranglehold on the necks of every Cuban on the Island. Playwright and LGBTQ activist Norge Espinosa said in a Facebook post, “We thought the
La Conga… was already approved and consecrated – an error,” he added, “To not permit it is a sign that compels us to return to the closet, to know we are not welcome, that hope can be undone, if we do not have what is needed to fight.” Activists who say the conga is an important and rare space to advocate for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBTQ) rights quickly organized an alternative event and spread the word on social media. Cenesex denounced this as a “provocation” and several activists said they received threats either anonymously on social media or from state security.
As a consequence of all the crimes committed (past and present) the Castro regime along with his top leading henchmen should be held accountable and should be arrested with charges brought against them in World Court for War Crimes, terrorist threats and murder of national and US citizens and repeat offender of The United Nations of Human Rights International Law.
Eleanor Roosevelt wrote a Universal Declaration of Human Rights On December 10, 1948, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted a resolution endorsing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In her speech before that Assembly, Eleanor Roosevelt said: “We stand today at the threshold of a great event both in the life of the United Nations and in the life of mankind. This declaration may well become the international Magna Carta for all men everywhere. We hope its proclamation by the General Assembly will be an event comparable to the proclamation in 1789 [the French Declaration of the Rights of Citizens], the adoption of the Bill of Rights by the people of the US, and the adoption of comparable declarations at different times in other countries.” That seem not to apply to Cuba at all. Eleanor’s Declaration was one of preserving human dignity after witnessing the inhumanities suffered by Jews, Homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses and other “offenders” of Nazi Germany.
The Castro Regime is culpable of national and international terrorism, corruption, murder and oppression must be held accountable for past and present crimes. They must be put under the scrutiny of world court arrest for several charges dating back to 1961’s Cuban Missiles Crisis and for a multitude of crimes against the United States since then.
Cuba has a dark past and are criminally liable for a vast number of serious crimes that have no statute of limitations and yet justice has failed to take its course and the Castro regime be charged with all their crimes. For instance, and just to name a few; 15,000 political prisoners murdered by firing squad in what began as a political genocide or idealistic cleansing. In 2017 although much lower than 2016 a little over 5,000 people were illegally imprisoned without due process, right, rhyme or reason. Now, unless there is a forgive and forget policy, I am unaware of then I am vexed as to why these crimes continue to be ignored. If no such forgive and forget policy exists, then please tell me why The United States has forgotten the threat of American extinction by means of tactical nuclear missiles pointed directly at the United States by the Castro brothers in 1961, better known in history books as, “The Cuban Missile Crisis?” This was the most audacious terrorist threat the world has ever known. A terrorist threat that involved and affected the entire globe in every way, and the US knew if left to the Castro brother’s own devices they’d have been launched regardless. Knowing this John F. Kennedy initiated private meetings and conversations with then Soviet President Khrushchev and through savvy negotiations and without the Castro brother’s consent or permission President Khrushchev removed the nuclear weapons from under Castro in a deal struck by them at the behest of Khrushchev to not invade Cuba.
The world need’s help in understanding why at the collapse of Soviet Union when the famous words that will live in history which President Reagan said while looking East which was, “Mr. Gorbachev please bring down that wall” (referring to the Berlin wall) which they did in the year 1989, and the collapse of The Soviet union quickly followed. Then the official retreat from Cuba followed and so did their aid and support in every which way, why didn’t the US set their sites on Cuba, in order to bring the world much needed justice and closure? And bring an end to tyranny and oppression by charging them with crimes of terrorism and have Fidel and Raul Castro and other communist leaders in Cuba stand trial in World Court? Was there a lack of evidence? No! The United Nations has enough evidence to convict them if they were indicted.
Past national crimes in Cuba November 1965, people already classified as the “scum of society” started to arrive in the concentration camps by train, bus, truck and other police and military vehicles. First, people were thrown into overcrowded cells at police stations and later taken to secret police facilities, cinemas, stadia, warehouses, and similar locations. They were photographed, fingerprinted and forced to sign confessions declaring that they were the “scum of society” in exchange for their temporary release until they were summoned to the concentration camps. Those who refused to sign the confessions were physically and psychologically tortured.
“Social deviants” such as homosexuals, vagrants, Jehovah’s Witnesses and other religious missionaries were imprisoned in these concentration camps, where they would be “reeducated”. They were subjected to political ‘re-education’ a synonym in those times in Cuba for the phrase extreme psychological torture. Military commanders brutalized the inmates. Exiled Cuban author, Carlos Alberto Montaner says, “Camps of forced labor were instituted with all speed to ‘correct’ such deviations. Verbal and physical mistreatment, shaved heads, work from dawn to dusk, hammocks, dirt floors, scarce food. The camps became increasingly crowded as the methods of arrest became more expedient”.
In the late 1960s, because of ‘revolutionary social hygiene’, the Castro government ‘cleansed’ the arts of ‘fraudulent sodomite’ writer’s and ‘sick effeminate’ dancers. Men with long hair were locked up and their hair was cut. At the same time Castro reported that, “In the country[side], there are no homosexuals”. In this hyper-masculine revolutionary culture, he labelled gay men ‘maricones’ (‘faggots’) and as ‘agents of imperialism’. He said, “Homosexuals should not be allowed in positions where they are able to exert influence upon young people”.
This discrimination continued in the 80s during the AIDS crisis whereby HIV-positive gay men were forcibly quarantined in sanitariums, in effect, prisons. Even in the 90s, the gay community could still be threatened with bar and club closures, street harassment and dubious prison sentences.
In 1996, after entering Cuban airspace, two Brothers to the Rescue planes were downed by the Cuban Air Force in international airspace as they were returning to Florida. The incident was condemned internationally, including by the UN Security Council while the Cuban government defended the decision claiming the planes were there to destabilize Cuban government.
In 2010, Castro admitted responsibility for the injustices suffered by the gay community, which was just MORE COMMUNIST PROPAGANDA with no substantial recorded actions to back any of the words that come out of a Castro mouth. Castro gave his sincerest “mia-culpa” to the Mexican newspaper La Jornada, by saying, “If someone is responsible, it’s me.”
By early March 2019, the Cuban Government seemingly launched another farce of supposed “public consultations on the new Family Code, which would address same-sex marriage.” Only to say that the atheist state of Cuba was ever so mindful of the feelings on the matter of the couple of churches Castro has deemed worthy of co-existing in an atheist communist regime and voicing their opinion and complaints on the issue of same sex marriage and now it seems the blame for no more talks about the issue of same-sex marriage is conveniently shifting to those two churches in Cuba.
However, mindful and respectful of the opinion of same sex marriage Raul Castro is from the religious community, “in 2016 four large churches linked to the Apostolic movement, a Protestant church network that has been denied registration by the ORA were destroyed by the Cuban government in Central and Eastern Cuba. Later government officials later threatened to confiscate land from two landowners if they continued to allow them to hold Sunday services on their properties.” Also, according to the 2016 report, “CSW recorded 2,380 separate violations of freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) in Cuba. At least 2009 of these violations involved entire church congregations and around 260 involved groups of women or activists arrested to prevent them from attending Mass.” Furthermore, the CSW reported that the brutal public beatings and arbitrary arrests and interrogations continue escalating per year.
After close to 60 years of tyrannical and systematic malicious and diabolical vicious and maniacal religious persecution; “the opium of the masses and a destructive force to the progress of the revolution.” The Cuban government shifts the blame of ceasing to further the discussion of same sex marriage out of respect for these churches that voiced their complaints? MORE COMMUNIST PROPAGANDA OF HITLER PROPORTIONS!
Mariela Castro, the daughter of Raul Castro and niece of Fidel is nothing but another scheming lying communist propagandist playing her diabolical role in perverting the truth of the reality of human rights in Cuba. She tours the US promoting Cuba’s government as accepting and inclusive and she founded and heads CENESEX, the National Centre for Sex Education and then closes the gay parade and threatens arrest and beatings for whoever show up anyway. Cuba is still a one-party political system – an atheist country- a human rights violator only more seductive than the Harlot of Babylon. The government denies you every basic human rights of expression, press, religion and governs every aspect of an individual’s life by intimidation, fear, hunger and brute force denying you every right as a human being, with one exception, according to Mariela Castro, the government of Cuba allows their citizens the right and the freedom of same sex copulation. OMG! GIVE ME A BREAK!
The official march against homophobia has been an annual event since 2007. This year CENESEX cancelled it, claiming it was being promoted by ‘foreign forces’ in Miami – although it’s more likely that the government was wary of a repetition of the massive protests seen recently in Venezuela. Undeterred, the gay community, knowing the severe repercussions of civil disobedience under Cuban law, decided to go ahead with it anyway. A historic act of disobedience rarely witnessed in this repressive country.
This was not just a gay rights march, however. Or a display of anger against the decision of the government to cancel the event. The Cuban gay community knew that the gay-world would be watching, listening and monitoring via internet and social-media (which has only recently been allowed, with restrictions and laws put in place in the event you stumble onto an anti-communist site or start a blog of your own). The Cuban gay community were issuing a cry for the world to see. A cry for help! They seized the opportunity to show that there are no rights in Cuba.
The Cenesex and their supposed campaign against homophobia in Cuba is just another communist propaganda attempt by Cuban President Raul Castro to deceive the world. Which was thanks to the brave marchers on May 12th disobeying orders to stay home after the cancellation of the La Conga, by marching regardless of the personal grave consequences they now face, they exposed the false propaganda and showed the world the truth about the tyrannical oppression that continues to escalate in Cuba, and allowed the Cuban government to show the world their true colors and believe me they are not rainbow colors.
The Cuban government had an opportunity to demonstrate this new-found love for the gay community, however, what was caught on camera was anything but love. It was the undeniable reality; wanton police violence of the peaceful marchers, arrests and now the possibility of severe prison sentences and/or abuses of other kinds Cuba is known for like acts of repudiation, unemployment, surveillance and other brutal endless tactics for long-term punishment and indignities.
Make no mistake, this is not just a homosexual issue this is an issue of lack of human rights for HOMO-EVERYONE living in Communist Cuba.
The laws in Cuba as far as due process states that the Cuban government as three years to charge you for a crime. So, those arrested could be in jail for three years waiting to be formally charged. With no bond or bail system in place the peaceful marchers could then end up with a life sentence. If they do end up getting released from prison, they will suffer every single day, by every means possible, at the hands of the Cuban government for bringing about what the government considers worldwide embarrassment. (see testimonies below of false incarcerations of innocent people charged with made up crimes and trumped up charges), they don’t represent the other approximately 5,000 complaints filed per year of false arrests and the other thousands upon thousands of every human rights complaint imaginable filed per year at the United Nations but reading their stories will afford you proper perspective after the blinding effects of the constant deluge of communist propaganda.
Resist the temptation to ignore their cries, Cuban’s are living in a brutal country, in a constant state of fear, with absolutely no freedoms and threatened by the government daily. All just 90 miles from US shores. It is not only the government’s responsibility to act on issues of human suffering. It’s the responsibility of every human in the world to act by picking up the phone and complaining to your government why they have allowed a president that was complicit in terrorized our nation and our lives to continue their reign of terror on their own people just a stones throw away from our Glorious Nation.
DO NOT IGNORE YOUR HUMANITARIAN RESPONSIBILITIES AND THE RIGHTS OF ANY HUMAN IN THE WORLD BUT LOOK TO THIS SIDE OF THE HEMISPHERE TO FIX HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS BEFORE WORRYING ABOUT THE EASTERN HEMISPHERE. CLEAN-UP YOUR OWN HOME BEFORE OFFERING TO CLEAN ANOTHER’S HOUSE. IS IT RIGHT TO CONTINUE TO HEAR, SEE AND DO NOTHING?
Notable prisoners of conscience:
• In 1960, Armando Valladares was working at the Cuban Postal Savings Bank when agents of the Ministry of Communications handed him a card bearing a communist slogan and told him to put it on his worktable. The 23-year-old Valladares refused. Astonished, the agents asked him if he had anything against Castro. Valladares answered that if Castro was a communist, he did. Valladares was convicted on a charge of placing bombs in public places and was sentenced to thirty years in prison. His supporters contend that he was never part of the Batista police as alleged by Castro supporters (because Valladares was only 19 at the time of the revolution), and that his imprisonment was the result of his vocal opposition to the Castro government. Conservative author David Horowitz has called him a “Human Rights Hero.” Valladares claims to have been tortured and humiliated while he was on a hunger strike in order to protest against prison abuses; he claims the guards denied him water until he became delirious, and they proceeded to urinate in his mouth and on his face. Valladares was released from prison after serving twenty-two years of his sentence upon the intercession of France’s Socialist President François Mitterrand.
• In 1973, gay writer Reinaldo Arenas was sent to prison after being charged and convicted of ‘ideological deviation’ and for publishing abroad without official consent. He escaped from prison and tried to leave Cuba by launching himself from the shore on a tire inner tube. The attempt failed and he was re-arrested near Lenin Park and imprisoned at the notorious El Morro Castle alongside murderers and rapists. After escaping from Cuba, Arenas described the horrors he endured under the Cuban government in his autobiography Antes que anochezca (1992), (English translation Before Night Falls in 1993).
• On August 28, 1998, a Havana court sentenced Reynaldo Alfaro García, a member of the Democratic Solidarity Party, to three years in prison for “spreading enemy propaganda” and “rumor-mongering”.
• Desi Mendoza, a Cuban doctor, was imprisoned for making statements criticizing Cuba’s response to an epidemic of dengue fever in Santiago de Cuba which he alleged had caused several deaths. Dr. Mendoza had previously been fired from his job in a Cuban hospital three years earlier for establishing an independent medical association. He was later released due to ill-health, subject to his leaving the country.
• Óscar Elías Biscet, a medical doctor, has been sentenced to jail for 25 years for his non-violent, but vocal opposition to Castro.
• In early 2003, dozens of persons, including independent journalists, librarians and other opponents of the Castro government were jailed after summary show trials, with some sentences in excess of 20 years, on the charge of receiving money from the United States in order to carry out anti-government activities.
• An Amnesty International report, CUBA: fundamental freedoms still under attack from Amnesty International calls for the “Cuban authorities to release all prisoners of conscience immediately and unconditionally” and to “revoke all legislation that restricts freedom of expression, assembly and association, and to put a halt to all actions to harass and intimidate dissidents, journalists, and human rights defenders”.
• Jorge Luis García Pérez was reported to have been released from prison in April 2007 after serving his full sentence of 17 years and 34 days for having, at the age of 25, shouted slogans against Fidel Castro. García Antúnez was convicted of sabotage after authorities accused him of setting fire to sugar cane fields, sabotage, spreading “enemy propaganda”, and being in illegal possession of a weapon.
Cuba remains a Latin American anomaly: an undemocratic government that represses nearly all forms of political dissent. President Fidel Castro, now in his forty-seventh year in power, shows no willingness to consider even minor reforms. Instead, his government continues to enforce political conformity using criminal prosecutions, long- and short-term detentions, mob harassment, police warnings, surveillance, house arrests, travel restrictions, and politically motivated dismissals from employment. The result is that Cubans are systematically denied basic rights to free expression, association, assembly, privacy, movement, and due process of law.
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Legal and Institutional Failings:
Cuba’s legal and institutional structures are at the root of rights violations. Although in theory the different branches of government have separate and defined areas of authority, in practice the executive retains clear control over all levers of power. The courts, which lack independence, undermine the right to fair trial by severely restricting the right to a defense.
Cuba’s Criminal Code provides the legal basis for repression of dissent. Laws criminalizing enemy propaganda, the spreading of “unauthorized news,” and insult to patriotic symbols are used to restrict freedom of speech under the guise of protecting state security. The government also imprisons or orders the surveillance of individuals who have committed no illegal act, relying upon provisions that penalize “dangerousness” (estado peligroso) and allow for “official warning” (advertencia oficial).
In early July 2005 the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation, a respected local human rights group, issued a list of 306 prisoners who it said were incarcerated for political reasons. The list included the names of thirteen peaceful dissidents who had been arrested and detained in the first half of 2005, of whom eleven were being held on charges of “dangerousness.”
Of seventy-five political dissidents, independent journalists, and human rights advocates who were summarily tried in April 2003, sixty-one remain imprisoned. Serving sentences that average nearly twenty years, the incarcerated dissidents endure poor conditions and punitive treatment in prison. Although several of them suffer from serious health problems, the Cuban government had not, as of November 2005, granted any of them humanitarian release from prison.
On July 13, 2005, protestors commemorated the deadly 1994 sinking of a tugboat that was packed with people seeking to flee Cuba. The protestors marched to the Malecón, along Havana’s coastline, and threw flowers into the sea. More than two dozen people were arrested. Less than two weeks later, on July 22, another thirty people were arrested during a rally in front of the French Embassy in Havana. While the majority of those arrested during the two demonstrations have since been released, at least ten of them remain incarcerated at this writing.
Travel Restrictions and Family Separations
The Cuban government forbids the country’s citizens from leaving or returning to Cuba without first obtaining official permission, which is often denied. Unauthorized travel can result in criminal prosecution. The government also frequently bars citizens engaged in authorized travel from taking their children with them overseas, essentially holding the children hostage to guarantee the parents’ return. Given the widespread fear of forced family separation, these travel restrictions provide the Cuban government with a powerful tool for punishing defectors and silencing critics.
Freedom of Assembly
Freedom of assembly is severely restricted in Cuba, and political dissidents are generally prohibited from meeting in large groups. In late May 2005, however, nearly two hundred dissidents attended a rare mass meeting in Havana. Its organizers deemed the meeting a success, even though some prominent dissidents refused to take part in it because of disagreements over strategy and positions. While barring some foreign observers from attending, police allowed the two-day event to take place without major hindrance. The participants passed a resolution calling for the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners.
Prisoners are generally kept in poor and abusive conditions, often in overcrowded cells. They typically lose weight during incarceration, and some receive inadequate medical care. Some also endure physical and sexual abuse, typically by other inmates with the acquiescence of guards.
Political prisoners who denounce poor conditions of imprisonment or who otherwise fail to observe prison rules are frequently punished by long periods in punitive isolation cells, restrictions on visits, or denial of medical treatment. Some political prisoners carried out long hunger strikes to protest abusive conditions and mistreatment by guards.
Under Cuban law the death penalty exists for a broad range of crimes. Because Cuba does not release information regarding its use of the penalty, it is difficult to ascertain the frequency with which it is employed. As far as is known, however, no executions have been carried out since April 2003.
Human Rights Defenders
Refusing to recognize human rights monitoring as a legitimate activity, the government denies legal status to local human rights groups. Individuals who belong to these groups face systematic harassment, with the government putting up obstacles to impede them from documenting human rights conditions. In addition, international human rights groups such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International are barred from sending fact-finding missions to Cuba. It remains one of the few countries in the world to deny the International Committee of the Red Cross access to its prisons.
Key International Actors
At its sixty-first session in April, the U.N. Commission on Human Rights voted twenty-one to seventeen (with fifteen abstentions) to adopt a blandly worded resolution about human rights in Cuba. The resolution, put forward by the United States and co-sponsored by the European Union, simply extended for another year the mandate of the U.N. expert on Cuba. The Cuban government continues to bar the U.N. expert from visiting the country, even though her 2005 report on Cuba’s human rights conditions was inexplicably and unjustifiably mild.
The U.S. economic embargo on Cuba, in effect for more than four decades, continues to impose indiscriminate hardship on the Cuban people and to block travel to the island. An exception to the embargo that allows food sales to Cuba on a cash-only basis, however, has led to substantial trade between the two countries. Indeed, in November 2005, the head of Cuba’s food importing agency confirmed that the U.S. was Cuba’s biggest food supplier. That same month the U.N. General Assembly voted to urge the U.S. to end the embargo.
In an effort to deprive the Cuban government of funding, the U.S. government enacted new restrictions on family-related travel to Cuba in June 2004. Under these rules, individuals are allowed to visit relatives in Cuba only once every three years, and only if the relatives fit the government’s narrow definition of family—a definition that excludes aunts, uncles, cousins, and other next-of-kin who are often integral members of Cuban families. Justified as a means of promoting freedom in Cuba, the new travel policies undermine the freedom of movement of hundreds of thousands of Cubans and Cuban Americans and inflict profound harm on Cuban families.
Countries within the E.U. continue to disagree regarding the best approach toward Cuba. In January 2005, the E.U. decided temporarily to suspend the diplomatic sanctions that it had adopted in the wake of the Cuban government’s 2003 crackdown against dissidents, and in June it extended the sanctions’ suspension for another year. Dissidents criticized the E.U.’s revised position, which Spain had advocated, and which the Czech Republic, most notably, had resisted.
Ladies in White (Damas de Blanco), a group of wives and mothers of imprisoned dissidents, were among three winners of the prestigious Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought for 2005. The prize is granted annually by the European Parliament in recognition of a recipient’s work in protecting human rights, promoting democracy and international cooperation, and upholding the rule of law. As of this writing, it was not clear whether the Cuban government would allow representatives of Ladies in White to travel to France in December 2005 to receive the prize.
Relations between Cuba and the Czech Republic continue to be strained. In May 2005, Cuba summarily expelled Czech senator Karel Schwarzenberg, who was visiting Havana to attend the dissidents’ two-day meeting. On October 28, on the eighty-seventh anniversary of the establishment of independent Czechoslovakia, the Cuban authorities banned a reception that the Czech Embassy was planning to hold in Havana, calling it a “counter-revolutionary action.” The Cubans were reportedly angered by the embassy’s decision to invite representatives of Ladies in White to attend the function.
Venezuela remains Cuba’s closest ally in Latin America. President Castro and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez enjoy warm relations, and Venezuela provides Cuba with oil subsidies and other forms of assistance.