Mariela Castro Espin, daughter of Cuban President Raul Castro, speaks on the issues of same-sex marriage, HIV/AIDS prevention and LGBT rights in Cuba during a talk at the San Francisco Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Center May 23, 2012 in San Francisco. The niece of former president Fidel Castro and director of Cuban National Center for Sex Education (CENESEX) was granted a visa to attend the annual Latin American Studies Association conference in San Francisco, drawing support from gay rights groups but also sharp criticisms from politicians and anti-Castro activists.
Fidel Castro’s niece is in San Francisco this week to meet with gay activists after the U.S. granted her a visa, according to reports. The international trip, though, has outraged many in the gay Cuban-American community in Miami, the Miami Herald reported.
Mariela Castro, 50, is the daughter of Cuban President Raul Castro and is widely-known as a gay rights advocate in Cuba.
"For Mariela Castro, or anybody else under the Castro dictatorship, to say they are representing the rights of anyone is an insult to the hundreds of thousands who have either been killed, jailed or assassinated by their own hands, or the nearly 100,000 people who’ve jumped into the ocean looking for freedom who haven’t made it here," Herb Sosa, executive director of Unity Coalition, a Miami-Dade County gay rights group, told the Herald.
Sosa called Castro’s call for gay rights a “dog and pony show” and told the newspaper that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender activists are arrested and disappear when Castro marches.
U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Miami also criticized the visit as a public relations stunt.
“The Cuban dictatorship would round up members of the gay and AIDS community and send them to forced labor camps where their most basic human rights came under withering assaults. This is all a public relations ploy meant to soften Cuba’s image abroad and it will not work,” she told the Herald.
Sen. Marco Rubio previously denounced the U.S. government's issuance of a visa to Castro and called the decision an "outrageous and an enormous mistake." Click here for the full story.