Mariela Castro blasts 'Cuban mafia'

2012-05-24 11:00
San Francisco - The daughter of Cuban President Raul Castro had some blunt words on Wednesday for Cuban-Americans who support economic and travel restrictions between the US and her country, saying "a Cuban Mafia" made up of migrs "who have no scruples" are holding the American people hostage.

Speaking in Spanish through a translator, Mariela Castro made the comments about Cuban exiles who oppose her father's regime and that of her uncle, former president Fidel Castro, while speaking at San Francisco General Hospital about transgender healthcare in Cuba.

She would go on to frame the topic as a continuation of her country's socialist ideals.

"A group of Cuban Mafia in the US, why are they taking away rights of American people to travel to Cuba? It's not fair," Castro, aged 49, told about 50 medical professionals and transgender advocates.

"You are millions of people against a tiny Mafia of people who have no scruples....We are fighting for the rights of Cubans and the rights of Americans."

Castro, the director of Cuba's National Centre for Sex Education, or Cenesex, was in San Francisco for a multiday visit devoted largely to meeting with gay and transgender rights activists and an academic conference where she is scheduled to chair a panel on sexual diversity.

Special dispensation

She was one of at least 60 Cuban scholars who were granted US visas to attend Thursday's meeting of the Latin American Studies Association.

A number of Cuban-American politicians have criticised the State Department - which provided special agents as Castro's security detail in San Francisco - for issuing Castro an entry visa.

They noted that US rules prohibit Communist Party members and other high-ranking Cuban government officials from entry without special dispensation.

Aside from kinship, Mariela Castro has no official link to the government, although Cenesex is part of Cuba's public health ministry.

She has an international reputation as an outspoken gay rights advocate and lobbied her father's government to cover sex reassignment surgery under the national health plan, which it has since 2008, and to legalise same-sex marriages, which so far it has not.

"If we don't change our patriarchal and homophobic culture...we cannot advance as a new society, and that's what we want, the power of emancipation through socialism," she said.

Stunted growth

"We will establish relationships on the basis of social justice and social equality...It seems like a Utopia, but we can change it."

During her 90-minute appearance at San Francisco General, she said she wanted her audience to hear a Cuban's perspective on the half-century of animosities between Havana and Washington because it helps explain why the nation's growth on issues like gay rights has sometimes been stunted.

"The Revolution has grown in Cuba, and it's been more than 50 years now," she said. "The Cuban people have been the victims of state terrorists, of the economic blockade against Cuba, campaigns to...misinform the world's population about the power of a revolution."

Castro also visited the United States in 2002 during Republican President George W Bush's administration. She obtained a visa to attend an event in Los Angeles, and also stopped in Virginia and Washington.

Read more on:    raul castro  |  cuba  |  us

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.