Thursday, May 17, 2012

UPDATE: Mariela Castro's academic paper for LASA: "Sexual Education as State Policy in Cuba, 1959-Present"

I for one am glad that the US State Department has taken the high road in granting a visa to Mariela Castro Espín (*see professional bio in Spanish below) so she can attend the Latin American Studies Association (LASA) conference.

If I fight for Yoani's (or anyone else's) right to leave Cuba (without having to pass some ideological test), I think I should also stand up for the ability of Mariela and other academics to come to the US (without their having to do the same).

To quote the Observatorio Critico quoting Rosa Luxemburg: "Freedom is not freedom at all unless it applies to those we disagree with."

I strongly support Mariela's advocacy for the LGBT community and for respect for sexual diversity in Cuba and just as strongly disagree with her intolerance of political and civil diversity.  But the best way forward is through honest, civil debate - not by refusing dialogue or engaging in character assassinations.

In an article published on Thursday at Fox News Latino, I was quoted (accurately) as saying that Mariela's "not just some Cuban academic, but also part of the Castro family dynasty." However, after reflection on that self-evident fact, I think that the real question going forward is not whether she is part of the dynasty, but what she does with the legacy.

Here is a link to the paper, "Sexual Education as State Policy in Cuba, 1959-Present," she submitted for presentation at the LASA conference.  It was published in the Cuban journal Sexología y Sociedad in April of 2011 (Vol. 17, No. 45).  It is in Spanish but an English translation of the abstract is below after the jump (you will also find a full description of the panel she is participating in *).

At the same time, I am saddened and surprised to hear that the US State Department has seemingly denied the visas for a number of other leading Cuban academics scheduled to attend the LASA conference next week (a slew of news reports are now out on this at WaPo, NYT, AP, Cuba Central, and Fox News Latino).  John McAuliff informs me that the following academics, among others, have been denied their visas:

*Soraya Castro, Center for the Study of International Migration, Havana University
*Milagros Martínez, University of Havana official responsible for educational exchange with US schools and co-chair of LASA Cuba Section
*Rafael Hernández, editor of the magazine Temas
*Oscar Zanetti, renown Cuban historian
*Carlos Alzugaray, Center for the Study of the Western Hemisphere and the US, University of Havana

Can anyone confirm this?  And if so, what are we going to do about it!

Again, as I say above:

If I fight for Yoani's right to leave Cuba (without having to pass some ideological test), I think I should also stand up for the ability of these academics to come to the US (without their having to do the same).

Abstract to paper by Mariela Castro Espín

"Sexual Education as State Policy in Cuba, 1959-Present" 
The initiatives developed during the Cuban revolutionary process geared towards equal rights for women, not only determined substantial changes in the social condition of women and of men, but also in the establishment of social policies that included a National Program of Sexual Education (ProNES), whose main benefits were geared towards women, children, adolescents, and youth. However, aspects relating to sexual orientation and sexual identity encountered greater cultural resistance to change, that also had its expressions in policies and laws.

An overview of the main stages of the process of institutionalization of sexual education is presented, as an element of social policy, during the 50 years of the Cuban revolution, and an assessment of its main challenges. In this analysis, sexual education is considered as a part and expression of an object of policy of a larger generality: gender and social equity. Sexual education centered in the practice of full rights of women, children and youth created conditions to advance in other sexual rights, to include those of LGBT persons. It proves that the implementation of laws and policies is not sufficient to warranty respect of sexual rights. These should be supported by permanent strategies of education and social communication subject to constant evaluation.

* Máster en Ciencias. Profesora Auxiliar e investigadora auxiliar de la Universidad Médica de La Habana. Presidenta de la Cátedra de Sexología y Educación de la sexualidad de la Escuela Nacional de Salud Pública y de la Comisión Nacional de atención integral a personas transexuales. Directora del Centro Nacional de Educación Sexual. Miembro del Consejo Asesor de la Asociación Mundial de Salud Sexual.

* Panel Information
Una Mirada a la Diversidad Sexual desde lo Político 
170 // SLS - 7578 - Panel - Thursday 12:30 pm - 2:15 pm, Sierra Suite C R
Organizer: Alberto Roque Guerra, Centro Nacional de Educación Sexual
Chair(s): Mariela Castro Espin, Centro de Estudios de la Educación Sexual
"La educación sexual como política de Estado en Cuba": Mariela Castro Espin, Centro de Estudios de la Educación Sexual
"La diversidad sexual, un desafío político para la academia": Gloria A. Careaga Pérez, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México
"Despatologización de la Transexualidad en Cuba, una propuesta por la legitimidad de los derechos sexuales": Alberto Roque Guerra, Centro Nacional de Educación Sexual


  1. Es Positivo todo lo que se haga a favor del respeto a la diversidad y a la libre expresión. Si los individuos no pueden expresarse libremente entonces no poseen el uso de la libertad, se fomenta una sociedad de doble moral, de seres humanos hipócritas y oportunistas. cuando los gobernantes están presentes los aplauden, cuando dan la vuelta hablan y despotrican hasta la saciedad, a veces hasta el odio.
    Por la cercanía de Mariela a la familia que gobierna a Cuba desde hace mas de 50 años, es natural que se desconfíe del valor y de la sinceridad de sus actos.
    Los discursos de Mariela siempre intentan no herir o no sobrepasar los límites dela verdadera situacións crítica de la realidad marginal de la mayoría de los cubanos y nuestras libertades que no se limitan a la condición sexual. También es natural.
    Hay un movimiento de jóvenes en las calles de Cuba, pero especialmente en La habana, que conocemos perfectamente nuestra realidad, conocemos como piensa el cubano de a pie, y también como piensan los que nunca andan a pie. "Unos mandando y otros mandados por la diferencia", dijo sabiamente en sus versos Nicolas Guillén. Pero esa Juventud no quiere ser escuchada, porque no milita en las filas comunistas. ¿Que cosa es un comunista? ¿Una persona que tiene un grupo de ideas, pero que no vive como las predica, o una persona que vive como piensa?
    El cambio que se viene sucediendo en Cuba en los últimos 20 años sobre todo, es un cambio de todos aquellos cubanos que ya sabemos que no tenemos dos vidas para esperar a que un grupo de seres humanos se decida a abrir las puertas de la Libertad para la mayoría. La libertad no puede seguir siendo un proceso de apertura exterior, la libertad se busca dentro, se rompe dentro, se sufre el miedo terrible de las depositaciones, ese no poder aceptar que nada puede darnos o quitarnos lo que por naturaleza nos pertenece.
    Aplausos para todo el que trabaja de corazón por la libertad humana, la autoresponsabilidad ciudadana, y la igualdad de derechos de todos los cubanos. Los que obran de corazón el tiempo los absolverá.
    Luis Eligio D Omni

  2. I was super surprised to see my old neighbors (from the Marigny, Louisiana) posting on here.

    The author of this point seems to be confusing a point. While the US (and Cuba) retain the right to refuse entry to anyone they choose, very few other countries in the world retain the right to refuse exit to anyone they choose. What do Yoani Sanchez and Mariela Castro (and all these academics) have in common? Hell, why we try to answer that, what DONT they have in common?

    I like LASA, but the Cuban section is filled with CASTRO BOOT LICKING 'people' (I was going to go for Communists and Anti Americans, but these categorizations don't do them justice) who WISH they lived in Cuba, except they wont make the jump. I base my opinions of knowing how the Venezuela section works, and its night and day; I live today knowing what I was exposed to as a member of the Venezuela section made me a better academic. I have the privilege of knowing many Cuban academics. They are outstanding, intelligent and hard working. I just cannot easily shrug off their complicity with the 'system'.

    On another note, having seen the Dictator yesterday I realize how stupid this sounds considering I live in America where everyone is complicity with 'our' 'system'.

    But I digress, I hope when she gets here shes arrested and sent to jail, and not just any jail, something like Angola Penitentiary or Orleans Parish Prison so that has time for reflection. On a more realistic note, I wish I could make it to the LASA conference so I can egg her.