Protest of LGBTIQ+ Community Shifts Cuba’s Political Landscape

Lynn Cruz

The self-organized march of Cuba’s LGBTIQ+ community on May 11, 2019.  Photo: Irina Echarry

HAVANA TIMES – On Saturday, Cuba’s LGBTIQ+ community took to the street and marched from Central Park down the Paseo del Prado promenade in Havana, just like they had announced on social media.  

The event came in response to the fact that CENESEX (the institution that is led by Mariela Castro) canceled the scheduled anti-homophobia conga parade, just a few days before.

The unofficial protest began with great joy and ended in violence, as was to be expected. With a police cordon that ran from Old Havana to Vedado (it seems that they were afraid of a popular uprising).

According to the Public Health Ministry, it wasn’t wise to take to the streets because this could be “misinterpreted by counter-revolutionary groups” given the current situation in Venezuela. That’s to say, the Cuban government canceled the annual parade out of fear. For its part, the LGBTIQ+ community stated that CENESEX was giving into Church groups pressure, as they had threatened to take to the streets if the parade took place.

Let’s remember that last January, in Lennon Park in Havana’s Vedado neighborhood, twenty-something members of the LGBTIQ+ community came together to protest the government’s retreat on Article 68, which would have paved the way for the legalization of same-sex marriage, in the new Constitutional. In addition to this, there was a public kissing session at the entrance to churches which did result in arrests and threats to activists on this occasion.

After seeing images of protests in Venezuela, where the government headed by Nicolas Maduro went as far as to trample some protestors with tanks, there is no doubt of what the Cuban government might do if they ever found the leadership of its army threatened, given the current situation in Cuba with the US government cornering it through economic means.

Our current government has received Fidel Castro’s legacy, the puppeteer of Leftist power in Latin America. To hell with ethics, principles, the Right or Left, in a world where capital, multinational corporations and businessmen reign supreme. In Cuba, imports have been cut, Cubans’ basic needs are on the line, yet investment for building hotels is on the rise.

The Cuban government shuffles the deck after the failure of Venezuela’s opposition attempt to overthrow Maduro with Operation Freedom. If a US-led military intervention takes place in Venezuela, a conflict would break out between the world’s superpowers. We shouldn’t forget the Russian and Chinese interests in this country.

Amidst all of this, it’s clear that the power of Protestant Churches in Cuba has grown, to the point that General Raul Castro’s daughter can’t dance her conga, after having minimized CENESEX’s political power too after what happened with Article 68 on same-sex marriage.

Another scary fact and it hits close to home, is that Daniel Ortega supported making all types of abortion illegal in Nicaragua in 2006.  In the middle of an election campaign he agreed to suspend an article of the Criminal Code, which had been in force since 1893, which stipulated therapeutic abortion as a legal concept. The reason for abandoning tradition was to seek support from both the Catholic and evangelical churches. 

I imagine that a response will now come from Cuba’s churches and then the hungry people, because of shortages, encouraged by the LGBTIQ+ community’s bright light in a besieged island, conditioned for social explosion.

Giving into these impulses, won’t the same script that the Cuban government has successfully designed with the Nicaraguan and Venezuelan leaders unfold here? The people in both these countries took to the streets, they bravely defended their rights. The result: fatalities, people injured, economic destabilization and hardship for the same people who took to the streets. Something that was genuine in the beginning has been converted into a vicious cycle of violence by those in power.

Lynn Cruz

It's not art that imitates life, its life that imitates art," said Oscar Wilde. And art always goes a step further. I am an actress and writer. For me, art, especially writing, is a way of exorcising demons. It is something intimate. However, I decided to write journalism because I realized that I did not exist. In Cuba, only the people authorized by the government have the right to express themselves publicly. Havana Times is an example of coexistence within a democracy and since I consider myself a democrat, my dream is to integrate this publication’s philosophy into the reality of my country.

8 thoughts on “Protest of LGBTIQ+ Community Shifts Cuba’s Political Landscape

  • Well said Martin, but even that source of toilet paper is threatened as distribution of Granma was recently curtailed because of shortage of paper. Way way back on the 22nd April, 1959, Fidel Castro Said;

    “We do hope to raise the standard of living to what the middle class has now. We import now $150 million of food. If we grow that we give work to our people.
    Cuba is capable of producing cotton, paper and newsprint.”

    Now, over sixty years later we can fairly assess his statement and the results have been:
    Fidel “raised the standard of living” by eradicating the middle class.
    The importation of food steadily increased as domestic production diminished.
    Where is Cuba’s cotton production?
    Even although all non-state media was banned, the production of newsprint has sunk to a level where it isn’t even possible to supply sufficient for Granma, the official organ of the Communist Party of Cuba.

  • @statethefact Come up with ONE fact or shut up. If you don’s have any solid arguments I would ask you to write with A “newspaper” that even the Cubans use a toilet paper.

  • Bravo Lynn Cruz and those who protested on Prado! Cuba needs people like you. Stand up for your rights, making it more clear than ever that the “Revolution” has nothing to do with equal rights for all. The “socialist state” is conservative at heart, is in no way “progressive”, and is only interested in maintaining the 60-year-old status quo for theie own benifit. The true revolution begins here with you! Jose Marti, a true and universal Cuban hero misused by the communists, will be proud of you!

  • Hmm mr/ms What facts do you refer to? What countless acts of outright terrorism are perpetrated on Cuban soil? How is it NOT a case where the LGBTQ+ community’s rights are being supressed? Are you saying that the government was acting to safeguard the lives of those marching in case they suffered a terrorist attack (perhaps by the religious conservatives?)?!! Your post was very odd indeed…

  • Statehefacts and just because of that the Cuban government has the right to do whatever he wants with his people?

  • Do you have any idea of the countless acts of outright terrorism perpetrated on Cuban soil, compelling the Cuban government to act with extreme caution, as in this instance? And it’s definitely NOT a case where the rights of the LGBTQ community are being suppressed either. Why don’t you do your homework properly before writing such trash.

  • Good piece Lynn and all it needs for evil to flourish is for good men (and women) to do nothing.

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