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Castro niece fights for new revolution

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  • Walter Lippmann
    One of my favorite slogans here in Cuba, which you see from time to time up on various walls is from Raul Castro. It says, If it isn t done with love, nothing
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 29, 2006
      One of my favorite slogans here in Cuba, which you see from time to
      time up on various walls is from Raul Castro. It says, "If it isn't
      done with love, nothing good can come out of it." I've seen this in
      more than one place, both in Havana and around the island as well.



      Castro niece fights for new revolution

      By Esteban Israel

      HAVANA (Reuters) - Mariela Castro is leading a Cuban revolution less
      well known than her Uncle Fidel's: one in favor of sexual tolerance
      within the island's macho society.

      Castro, 43, is leading the charge from her government-funded National
      Center for Sex Education, based in an old Havana mansion.

      As director of the group, she promoted a soap opera that scandalized
      many Cubans in March by sympathetically depicting bisexuality. The
      controversial show depicted, among other story lines, the life of a
      construction worker who leaves his wife and children for the man next

      Now President Castro's niece is pushing for passage of a law that
      would give transsexuals free sex change operations and hormonal
      therapy in addition to granting them new identification documents
      with their changed gender.

      A draft bill was presented to parliament last year and was well
      received, she said. It is expected to come up for a vote in December.

      If approved, it would make Cuba the most liberal nation in Latin
      America on gender issues.

      Castro says her goal is to bring the revolution her uncle and father,
      Defense Minister Raul Castro, fought 47 years ago to the terrain of
      sexuality. Her group has also campaigned for better AIDS prevention
      as well as acceptance of homosexuality, bisexuality and

      "I want to bring the revolution's humanity to those aspects of life
      that it hasn't reached because of old prejudices," she told Reuters.

      Much has changed, she says, since the 1960s when homosexuals were
      sent to work camps, or the 1970s when gay men and women were denied
      certain jobs as "ideological deviants."

      "None of that exists anymore," she said. "But that is not to say the
      same for homophobic attitudes."

      Cuba eliminated the crime of sodomy in 1979. Cuba is also a country
      where abortion is a constitutional right and divorce a simple


      Mariela Castro says she isn't a leader, but simply part of a movement
      for greater tolerance.

      Nevertheless, she admits her access to the two most powerful figures
      in the country has helped her cause.

      Castro says she has the support of her 75-year-old father, who is
      second in charge of the all-powerful Communist party and as first
      vice president in line to succeed Fidel.

      "Of course, I talk with my father whenever I have the chance. He is
      one of those in the party that supports our work. He thinks it is
      useful, good, just," she said.

      Castro sees her uncle less often.

      "Fidel is very sensitive to these issues," she said. "He is a pensive
      man and when the subject is one of justice it gets his attention. He
      asks for more information, more elements to consider."

      Castro sees herself as continuing the work of her mother, Vilma
      Espin, head of the Cuban Womens Federation for the last 45 years.
      Eighty-seven percent of the island's women are members.

      Espin, considered one of the most influential personalities of the
      Cuban revolution, is the originator of the Cuban family code adopted
      in 1975, which calls on men to share household chores and child care.

      Castro said many people ask her if she plans to push legalization of
      gay marriages.

      "We do not know what we will propose. It depends on what we identify
      as homosexuals' and lesbians' main needs," Castro said.

      "Marriage is not as important in Cuba as in other more Catholic
      countries. Here consensual pairing is more important," she said,
      "What matters is love."


      Reut08:00 06-29-06
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