Lessons on Corruption from Cuba’s Mariela Castro

By Martin Guevara

Mariela Castro.  Photo: radiorebelde.cu
Mariela Castro. Photo: radiorebelde.cu

HAVANA TIMES — In 1966, the renowned Beat Generation activist and intellectual Allen Ginsberg was invited to Cuba’s Casa de las Americas cultural center by Haydee Santamaria. Shortly afterwards, he was unceremoniously expelled from the country for criticizing the repression of homosexuals ordered by the uncle and father of Mariela “Rainbow” Castromasov – and perhaps he was also kicked out of the country for being a homosexual himself.

I wonder: are there no people, people with greater moral authority, to lead any type of change in Cuba other than the members of that family?

Is there not a single gay man or lesbian more knowledgeable of the needs of their community, and more entitled to lead their movement, than this woman? Is she the only one who can do this?

Today, Mariela shows us a well-developed aspect of her personality, concealing her wish to remain in power less and less, referring to those who oppose her parent’s feudal rule as a handful of ignorant sell-outs.

It seems both pathetic and incredible that a well-meaning person who once sympathized with that distant revolution should, after considerable effort, establish some type of link between that bearded revolt and this wasted ruin, managing to feel the same sympathy for this heap of nonsense.

In the imperfect but up to a certain point free world, we permit ourselves to refer to the most backward sectors as “intolerant” – some even call them “fascists” – because they merely content themselves with free national, municipal and autonomous elections every four years, in contrast to the exemplary “angry protesters,” who demand permanent democracy. That is enough for us to consider them cavemen.

I can’t imagine any politician in any civilized country, not even the most conservative out there, who would dare boast of having outlawed all opposition to the government for over fifty years, much less publicly refer to this opposition as a “handful of ignorant and corrupt people,” thus dismissing those who, despite the difficulties and risks, peacefully struggle for changes and greater participation in the nation’s politics.

Mrs. Rainbow Castromasov feels she can lecture us about corruption.

Could there be a clearer example of corruption than clinging to power for more than half a century while crushing any semblance of opposition?

50 thoughts on “Lessons on Corruption from Cuba’s Mariela Castro

  • You have an inability to understand the role and actions of the CDR in Cuba. You know nothing of the reality of life in Cuba. If the people of Cuba really want the Castro family regime, why not free open multi-party elections to demonstrate that they represent the majority?
    Poder Popular was not a name bestowed by the people of Cuba. The current constitution has not been approved freely by the people of Cuba.
    Cuba is a dictatorship!
    Be they of the left or right, dictatorships are evil!

  • Twaddle.
    Yes, I regard the electoral systems of Germany, the UK and Canada are fair and I have lived in all three. That is not saying that they are perfect – but then Winston Churchill said that the parliamentary system had faults but was better than any of the alternatives.
    Cuba, China, North Korea, Myanmar (Burma that was), and Vietnam are examples of one party states. You may admire them, but where do you choose to live?

  • Who knows more about corruption in Cuba than a member of the Castro family?

  • Where Queen Elizabeth II is significant Rayarena is when comparing her knowledge of world leaders with that of Fidel Castro. Castro posed as a uniquely knowledgeable sage on the back two pages of Granma for many years – his reflections! Much of it was bogus.
    For Castro unlike Queen Elizabeth, never knew Churchill, Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, De Gaulle, Von Ribbentrop, Chaing Kai-shek, Ghandi, and a myriad of other world leaders and influential figures. The memoirs of a succession of UK Prime Ministers record the advantages of being able at weekly discussions with Queen Elizabeth to receive commentary about the thinking of such people. The lady is more than a figurehead!

  • It is possible to have elections in a one party system that produce fairer & more meaningful results than a multi-party system. Is anyone who is commenting on here claiming that the electoral system in their country is fair ? It certainly isn’t in mine.

  • Nothing much has changed. Prostitution is rampant on the island. And it will continue to be is as long as prostitutes make more money than doctors in Cuba.
    That will only change when the Cuban economic model changes

  • The story is that Alan GIngsburg was literally booted out of Cuba when at a reception of literary figures, the drunk & smitten American Beat poet made a pass at Che Guevara. The Argentine revolutionary, notorious for his violent homophobia, kicked and shouted insults at Ginsburg, who fled the party in tears and boarded the next plane home.

    It seems his leftist utopian fantasy didn’t quite measure up to reality.

    Mariela Castro is a central member of the ruling clique. Her job is to present a smiling, progressive face to the regime. Her “pink washing” goes over well with American lefties who are eager to have their cherished illusions confirmed by the most Mariela’s Pink Potemkin Gay Village.

    In addition to Mariela, the Castro regime will live on under the control of Raul’s son Alejandro Castro Espin and his son-in-law Col. Luis Alberto Rodriguez Callejas. Fidel has some 10 or 11 children, including Antonio Castro who heads the Cuban national Baseball organization.

  • Good Lord Mr. Goodrich, you are a regime hack! Talking about elections in a country like Cuba where there are no opposing powers and where people like Oswaldo Paya who got thousands of signatures asking for change was vilified, persecuted and finally assassinated. You should be ashamed of yourself Mr. Goodrich.

  • Dear Mr. MacDuff, thank you for the clarification. I am aware that the Windsors have been in power longer than the castros, but I didn’t think that it was a fit comparison, because the Windsors are figure heads who head Great Britain nominally, while the castros are totalitarian rulers with absolute and terrible power. Now that I am starting to read your posts, I do see that you are knowledgeable and fair in your assessment of the situation in Cuba and I commend you for that.

  • What are you babbling about? For the record, I wholeheartedly support free enterprise and Cuba does not nor does it need anyone to “inflict” free-enterprise on them. Spare us the bigoted paternalism. Cubans are not lost babes in the woods, they are not innocents depending on some wise outsider to correct things for them. It is a country run by a tyrannical regime that is painfully aware of what it is doing. They will never accept free enterprise [other than a corrupted facade of true free enterprise], because they are aware that if they were to give the Cuban masses true economic power, that would empower them and they might be swept away from power.

  • Yes, the castro family is plenty wealthy, they are after all the owners of an entire island, however, what will it matter if people can see them grow wealthier? In a totalitarian country people do not have the means to effect change. There are no free elections, free labor unions, independent newspapers, freedom of assembly is restricted, the Internet is controlled, people are not allowed to own arms, even the church is run by a Cardinal who is a hack of the regime. Jaime Ortega is a prelate who echoing the words of the regime has gone on record saying THERE ARE NO DISSIDENTS IN CUBA, JUST COMMON CRIMINALS. In fact, since the announcement of December 17th, repression on the island has increased with more detentions and beatings of dissidents. As for Cuba’s economic model, it’s as phony was a three dollar bill. Cuban entrepreneurs are so restricted that the businesses that they are allowed to operate include professions like cigarette lighter fixer, hairdresser [from your home], restaurant from your home [and you can only hire members of your family]. Problem is that restauranteurs are subjected to onerous taxes and so many state controls that few of them can prosper or continue in business, etc… It’s not like in a normal country where a businessman can open up a store front and buy inventory from an independent distributor. Everything remains in the hands of the regime that is watching over you with the eyes of a hawk.

  • It is a little weird but they still had (have) to run a campaign against another person an actually win an election.

  • Amen!

  • You don’t even live in Cuba, so stop the nonsense of trying to indicate that you represent Cuban views, you left! The Castro family regime isn’t guiding you, it is too busy subjugating the Cubans who live in Cuba1
    The use of the Royal “We” does indicate a degree of arrogance!

  • No need Mr. Goodrich, Rayarena’s description suffices as it stands. You should appreciate the academic accuracy!

  • Rayarena, I was merely illustrating that the Castro family regime has not yet lasted in power as long as Queen Elizabeth II – and that is correct. IC said that the regime has been in power for longer than Queen Victoria’s reign – that is not correct. I said that Queen Elizabeth’s family have reigned for centuries – and that is correct, but the family only adopted the name Windsor in 1917.
    Few writing in these columns have been as bluntly critical as I have of the Castros. As I am married to a Cuban and spend the larger portion of my time at home in Cuba, I speak as one with prolonged experience of the subjugation of the Cuban people. I agree with you that the regime has become ever more repressive and I see none of the changes within Cuba which currently the media and some of the contributors here write about. Raul Castro Ruz remains as the current dictator and his (not Fidel’s) family hold control of the Cuban economy through GAESA.
    My contributions are limited to when I am in Canada as obviously lack of access to the Internet prevents me from doing so when in Cuba.

  • And you Mr. Goodrich are as you have repeated in these columns ad nauseum an ANARCHIST. Furthermore you have re-defined the reality of socialism and communism as STATE CAPITALISM. Any thing fresh to add?
    The people of Cuba are seeking capitalism, they don’t require the US to introduce it. The bici-taxi owners, those who sell from their homes, those who peddle on the streets, the casa particulars, the paladars – all are enthusiastic supporters of private enterprise and most of those who are currently given the monthly pittance by the Castro family regime averaging $20.68 are envious of those private enterprise entrepreneurs whom I have listed.
    You, simply don’t know and can always defend your view by admitting that you have not (yet – to show hope) visited Cuba.
    You don’t belong to the right – because you are wrong!

  • Do you know anything about Poder Popular and how it structures all elections in Cuba ?
    Why do more than 90% of Cubans vote in elections when they do not have to- secret ballots are used -and can be cast blank or with “Donald Trump on them- with less than 5% of the ballots defaced or otherwise used to protest. ?

  • ” mafioso-like totalitarian castro family dynasty.”
    Oh come on!…..You must have at least ten more hyperbolic adjectives you could have fitted in there.

  • Why can’t they be like the USA and not have the same families and corporations running things all the time ?
    How many Bushes ?
    How many Clintons ?

  • True, true,
    I worked with a navy veteran who said the whores in Cuba were the best when he went there in the late 50s.
    He said those Castros ruined it for him.

  • Liberals and progressives both support the free-enterprise capitalism the GOUSA is attempting to inflict upon Cuba and they always vote for imperial U.S. foreign policy ( which they call “defense spending” .
    You’re center-right

  • Very well stated N.J.
    Especially the last thought.
    Normalization brings the issue of democratization to the fore .
    Expect the worst.
    Hope for the best.

  • I can see the smoke screen arguement. It was working very well with the American left. But know that gay marriahe is legal in US, Cuba does not look so Progressive on the topic. I have heard that Alejandro may be the succesor. As to the money, the Castro’s are plenty wealthy. Let the gusher of cash in, let the people see them grow wealthier. Let’s test how much of the new economic model is real.

  • When were the people if Cuba ever given a choice? You may like the Castro regime and you may support it. But don’t play us for fools. The Cuban people have no choices.

  • CCC Castros Curse of Cuba

  • I don’t know why you are splitting hairs over “Informed Consent’s” statement. He was trying to illustrate how long the castros have been in power. Suffice it is to know that the castros have been in power longer than any living dictator in the world. The Windsors have been in power longer than the castros, but the Windsors are figure heads who have symbolized a nation that has not only provided prosperity to its people, but democratic principles, Cuba on he other has been impoverished and has become ever more repressive under this mafioso-like totalitarian family dynasty.

  • As long as “the Cuban people will want them to continue guiding us,” you say. The castro dynasty has never put their rule up to a free and impartial election as such, they do not have the mandate of the Cuban people. When the late great Reinaldo Arenas and over 100 intellectuals, Nobel Prize winners, former ambassadors to Cuba, former presidents of Latin American countries, renown artists and authors asked fidel castro to hold a plebiscite [the open letter was published in the NYT’s in 1989], the tyrant had a temper tantrum, insulted the signators, dug his heels in and refused.

  • Why does Mariela deserve to have the “post” any more than Antonio Rodiles, the head of Estado de Sats? How about allowing the Cuban people to decide through free and open elections? Saying that Mariela “has certain advantages over the average Cuban” is like saying the Pope is kinda’ religious.

  • Moses, let us hope that you and I live long enough so that someday one of us can send a message to the other saying “it looks like you were right”.

  • Conservatives criticizing Mariela? I’m one of those people who criticize Mariela and I am not a conservative. I’m a liberal progressive, something that Mariela is not. By definition a conservative is someone who holds on to the status quo. Mariela defends her family’s 56 year old ossified regime with tooth and nail, so by definition she is the conservative. For the record, she only tolerates gays that are within her state approved organization. Independent Gay dissidents are ostracized, just ask transsexual Wendy Iriepa and her bisexual husband, Ignacio Estada.

  • The end of the embargo will only mean more dollars into the coffers of the ossified oligharcal family that has controlled Cuba since 1959, let me add, an oligharcal and hereditary family. No wonder Mariela is sarcastically called “the Infanta.” I understand that despite talk of some vice-president or other as the likely successor to raul, people in the know say that he is preparing his son to take over when he retires in the next 2-3 years. In any case, I don’t want to talk about the embargo. I want to talk about the topic of this excellent article. I agree: is Mariela the only person who can lead the gay moment in Cuba? The fact that Mariela is spearheading the gay moment in Cuba proves that this is all nothing more than a smokescreen by the regime, a well-orchestrated fascade. Naturally, in a totalitarian country where there are no free institutions, a phony gay organization lead by an trusted insider is the perfect smokescreen.

  • As long as We, the People of Cuba, want them to continue guiding us.

  • Let us hope it does with them.

  • Well IC, the reign of the Castro family is only 56 years, that of Queen Elizabeth II’s family is many centuries long.
    Fidel Castro only ruled for 49 years and Raul currently for 7. The key question is for how long will the Castro family regime continue to hold power?

  • So it appears that when a member of the Castro Family demonstrates progressive thought and action, defies the system and defends the human rights of Cuba’s most despised minority, homosexuals, from her position of power, your response and that of Moses and IC is to attribute conspiracy and veiled designs. Yes, she has certain advantages over the average Cuban and she’s using them to promote civil rights and to challenge the Status Quo; I can support a person like that much more than a apparatchik in his/her 70’s or 80’s. If you understood the depth of Cuban Homophobia amongst the masses, the worst possible insult is “Maricón” (faggot), you would be able to comprehend the risks of a negative, popular reaction that Mariela has taken to come out and demand Gay rights. Mariela is a heterosexual woman with children so this has nothing to do with her sexual preference.
    Yes, Fidel and Raúl have outlasted all their enemies, assassination attempts, conspiracies, blockade, invasion, terrorist attacks and plots while maintaining the gains we have made since 1959 and guiding us through very difficult times, they have been our “War Chiefs” and have won our confidence by their actions. If the Peace finally comes as it seems, we will need a “Peace Chief” and Mariela looks very good for that post now. In the words of Deng Hsiao Ping: “What does it matter the color (or last name) of the cat as long as She catches mice?

  • No disagreement on state power structure. The underlying premise of liberation from 1950’s Cuba, that is gone. The consent of the governed becomes harder to hold when raw power is the hold. The end of embargo will challenge things as they exist.

  • Well then, the reign of the House of Castro is nearly as long.

  • If you think that Castro’s NO vote was not pre-approved and used as a publicity stunt to fool the naive into thinking that she is independent of her father and uncle, then you are clearly one of those naive. ….

  • We need the good times of the 1950’s to return to Cuba… They knew how to treat Americans back then!

  • Queen Victoria’s reign was 63 years and the current Queen Elizabeth II will exceed that period in September 2015.

  • The only reason that Mariela Espin Castro achieved prominence was because she is Raul Castro’s daughter.
    The only reason why she is a member of the so-called “parliament” is because she is Raul Castro’s daughter.
    As Raul Castro Ruz and Vilma Espin’s daughter, as niece of Fidel Castro Ruz and sister of Alejandro Espin Castro she has certain advantages over the average subjugated Cuban.

  • Time to study the reality of the structure of power in Cuba. There are I realise, those who are fooled by the current media optimism, but the economy remains controlled by the military and the military remains controlled by the Castro family.

  • Not much left of the original revolution. A new age is comming to Cuba.

  • People can find things they like or dislike about Mariela Castro Espín, but I believe she deserves to be addressed properly and not as “Rainbow Castromasov” as that is a bit of a personal insult.

    My personal belief is that she is quite a free thinker in her own right and not a follow on for her father. While she shares much of her father’s political ideas, they certainly have not seen eye-to-eye on some issues.

    It is notable that she broke tradition of parliament’s unanimous votes and was the lone “no” vote on an issue of workers rights last year.

    Let us not forget that when Fidel Castro ranked the most important people in the Revolution and modern day Cuba that her mother, Vilma Espin, was #3 while her father, Raul, was #4.

  • And yet gay marriage is legal in the US and not in Cuba. Besides the point here has noting to do with your statement

  • Very good article! I like the way he analyzes this hypocrite and autocratic regime.

  • Its ironic that conservatives critique Mariela who leads the only organization that I know funded by a government thta advocates for LGBT, not even in the US public funds goes to educate and advocate for LGBT people. especially since conservatives are the most homophobic intolerant folks in the US and elsewhere. I have been to the CENESEX with many colegas and found their work admirable and not done in the US. They have even organized a public Gay Pride march which 10 years ago would have been unheard of….like we say que caripelados son!

  • Free elections are what is required to make Cuba and it’s people totally free! will it happen? Not in my lifetime i feel!

  • What we have here is the House of Castro, who’s family passes on power from one generation to another (granted the 1st generation has been in power for over half a century, longer that queen Victorias reign, or even my life time). Inevitably, with the biological imperative of the Castro brothers death, Mariela, seeing the “writing on the wall”, will more and more try to keep the status quo in place. She and her Casto cousins will do their best to remain in power. Were they to get off the tigers back….who knows what would happen to them, they may get eaten.

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