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