Thursday, September 20, 2012

Dolor & Horror: State Homophobia in Cuba

For those who haven't read my last post or the comments it generated, or the original post from Alexis Romay that prompted it (all in Spanish), here's a quick summary:

Mariela Castro, the daughter of Cuba's current president (and the niece of its former one), made a trip to the U.S. in May, which included a presentation at the LASA conference in San Francisco followed by a supposedly public talk at the New York Public Library (the main branch at 42nd Street).

Many Cubans in the NY Metro area attempted to get tickets to her talk to engage her in a real debate but were told inexplicably that the event had already reached capacity.

Some of them sent a letter to the NYPL demanding an explanation and a public hearing.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Cuba, Miami y la homofobia

De izquierda a derecha: Jafari Sinclair Allen, Achy Obejas, Mabel Cuesta, Emilio Bejel y María Werlau.  Arriba en la pantalla (y presentes en vivo por teléfono): Leannes Imbert e Ignacio Estrada.

Hoy leí en PD un resumen del panel sobre LGBT del sábado pasado en el NYPL de Harlem (vea mi foto de los ponentes arriba). Acerca de lo que Alexis Romay escribe allí sobre mi pregunta acerca de la homofobia en Miami hacia el final del evento, le digo: o me entendió mal o no me quisó entender.  A eso regreso mas abajo.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A friend weighs in on Lybia

Having just returned from two weeks honeymooning in Morocco, the attacks on the US consulates in Benghazi and Egypt strike particularly close to home. 

Also, I understand that Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, who was killed along with three other Americans, was a much admired figure to many in the Libyan resistance last year given his support for them.  

What follows is a brief note I received this morning from a life-long friend of mine recently retired from the USMC. During his 20 years in the military he served in many foreign countries including Afghanistan and Serbia. 

We don't always agree on politics, but his eloquent and impassioned words deserve to be heard and discussed. 
From: William Pelletier

Sept. 12, 2012
This morning, news organizations reported the death of J. Christopher Stevens, U.S. ambassador to Libya, and three other Americans who worked for the State Department, near the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. The four were killed in a riot related to ongoing violence in Egypt and Libya by crowds purportedly enraged by an American-made video that protrayed the prophet Muhammad as being homosexual, a pedophile and a philanderer, all of which are considered blasphemous in Islam.

The video was made by Sam Bacile, an Israeli-American who lives in California and has reportedly gone into hiding. It was publicized by World Dove Outreach Center pastor Terry Jones, the same man who held a trial for the Koran in his church and subsequently burned it in 2010. 
To Mr. Bacile: Why are you hiding? Did you honestly think that creating such a movie would produce any result other than pandemonium? Israel is a beautiful, vibrant country that lives in existential danger, and THIS is how you contribute to efforts to keep it safe? Your lack of judgment is matched only by your absence of courage in letting others stand accountable for the chaos you created. Theo van Gogh at least had the courage of his convictions, for which he died. On second thought, stay wherever you are.    
To Mr. Jones: I omit the honorific "Pastor," because a pastor is one who tends a flock. You clearly have no one's interests at heart but your own, and as a former Gainesville, Fla. resident, it pains me to see that town's name tarnished because of its association with the likes of you. Justice would be seeing you and all zealots cast into a pit together where the only havoc you could wreak would be on each other, but that's not for me to decide. However, I say that your teachings in no way resemble the answer to the question "What would Jesus do?"    
To the Cairo and Benghazi rioters: Whether you were willing participants or unwitting dupes of manipulating masters, you have been party to murder and mayhem. Your action is that of a mad dog, a person who has nothing to lose, and eventually you will force someone to treat you that way. If your goal was to move us one step closer to an end-of-days clash of civilizations, you have succeeded.     
To those who demand an apology from the U.S. government for the film:  Go suck an egg (and I restrain myself in my choice of language). This is what freedom looks like, this is what it means to have choices. Your inability or unwillingness to restrain the infantile, anarchic impulses of the people is why America's way has always been the way of the future. Your way is built on a foundation of sand and the result shall be a surprise to no one but you.  
To campaign operatives of any party who would even think of political gain from these events: God's own shame on you.   
To the wives, children, family and friends of Ambassador Stevens, Foreign Service Officer Sean Smith and our other fallen comrades: You have my family's prayers and condolences. Please pay no mind to the above-listed cowards, charlatans, nihilists, mobsters and calculators who posture grandly with other people's gold. You are the Americans, along with the families of our military, State Department and other overseas agencies, with real skin in the game, and your word carries weight because of your sacrifice. Please take comfort in the fact that while others bloviated, ranted, conspired and threw tantrums, your men walked the walk and died in the noblest of pursuits. 
Finally, to the U.S. Marines who guard our embassies around the world: Days like this are what you have trained for. Steady. Semper Fidelis.//

Sunday, September 9, 2012

LGBT Lives in Contemporary Cuba

LGBT Lives in Contemporary Cuba 
at the Schomburg Center, Sat., Sep. 15, 3:00 p.m.

I don't expect Mariela Castro to be in attendance for this event but she should return to NYC just for it. She could contribute a bit and, I'm sure, learn a lot too. 

It's really a fabulous set of smart people.  Be sure to RSVP.  See you there!

Although Cuba has made major advances in LGBT rights in recent years, homophobia remains a problematic human rights issue.  A panel of scholars, writers, and activists, featuring Jafari Allen, Emilio Bejel, Mabel Cuesta, Ignacio Estrada, Leannes Imbert, and Achy Obejas, will discuss continuing challenges. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Jorge Duany Appointed as New CRI Director

Jorge Duany Appointed as New CRI Director
Wednesday September 5, 2012

Cuban Research Institute announces new director

Jorge Duany has joined FIU as the director for the Cuban Research Institute.

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He brings with him a passion for shaping the conversation about Cuba and her people. Born in Cuba but raised in Puerto Rico, Duany has long struggled with answering the question: Where are you from? He sometimes just answers, "I'm Cuba Rican." He became interested in the idea of migration, specifically in the Spanish-Caribbean migration, during his time in Puerto Rico and has published extensively on migration, ethnicity, race, nationalism, and transnationalism in the Caribbean and the United States.

"I would like CRI to focus more on the Cuban American community and the Cuban diaspora in the 21st century," Duany said. "I want to strengthen the CRI-faculty relationships, courses, fellowships and summer programs."

Along with his appointment at CRI, Duany also will serve as an anthropology professor in the Department of Global and Sociocultural Studies within the School of International and Public Affairs.

"Dr. Duany brings a unique perspective to our Cuban studies," said John Stack, executive director of the School of International and Public Affairs and associate dean of the College of Arts & Sciences. "His passion for Cuba and her people will help invigorate thoughtful conversations about the role Cubans play internationally and about the future of Cuba, itself."

Prior to joining FIU, Duany served as acting dean of the College of Social Sciences and professor of Anthropology at the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras. He currently belongs to the editorial boards of academic journals including CENTRO: Journal of the Center for Puerto Rican Studies, Cuban Studies, Latin American and Caribbean Ethnic Studies, and Latino Studies.

Duany received his Ph.D. in Latin American Studies, specializing in anthropology, from the University of California, Berkeley. He received an M.A. in Social Sciences from the University of Chicago and a B.A. in Psychology from Columbia University. He served as director of University of Puerto Rico's Department of Sociology and Anthropology and director of the journal Revista de Ciencias Sociales. He has had visiting teaching and research appointments at several United States' universities, including Harvard, Connecticut, Wisconsin, Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and the City University of New York.