Jimmy Roque Martínez
HAVANA TIMES – The HBO documentary Mariela Castro’s March: Cuba’s LGBT Revolution was just screened at the Havana Film Festival, where Jon Alpert, the director, and Mariela Castro, head of the National Sexual Education Center, spoke about the film.
Castro addressed the achievements of Cuba’s LGBT community and referred to the notorious Military Production Aid Units (UMAP), labor camps administered by the Revolutionary Armed Forces between 1965 and 1968.
These camps sought to forge a “new man,” an issue addressed by the documentary.
Fidel Castro’s niece explained that the Cuban revolution was part of the world, not the planet Mars, and that, as part of the world, it was also homophobic – it was not a perfect revolution.
I concur that, at the time, homophobia was a very common phenomenon, but that does not in any way justify the creation of forced labor camps or removing people from university or their jobs because of their sexual orientation.
It’s been fifty years since the creation of the UMAP and not one of the people responsible have asked Cubans for any apologies. The highest officials behind the idea are still alive. The minister of the armed forces at the time is the country’s president today.
It’s time for them to apologize for the penalization, exclusion and punishment of thousands of Cuban homosexuals who showed an “improper conduct,” as so-called revolutionaries would say at the time.
Refusing to accept responsibility for these actions, denying us an apology and infinitely postponing the legal acknowledgment of homosexual families, as well as the homophobic Population and Housing Census of 2012, are proof of the homophobia and unrepentant attitudes of many of Cuba’s current leaders.
Where is the study we’ve been hearing about since 2011, which the CENESEX is allegedly conducting on this matter? How many people has it interviewed? Who is carrying out the research? When and where are its partial results going to be presented?
I acknowledge the work Mariela Castro has done on behalf of Cuba’s LGBT community, it would be unfair not to. But, with all due respect, we need action by civil society, a valuable and powerful force.
The declarations Fidel Castro made to the Mexican newspaper La Jornada are not enough. The people responsible must acknowledge the mistakes they made and genuinely and directly apologize to the victims and their relatives to atone for these crimes.