Exclusive interview with Mariela Castro: Part 2

Raul Castro's daughter questions perception of Cuba's human rights record

HAVANA – As Cubans get ready to celebrate the international day against homophobia and transphobia, it made sense to talk to Mariela Castro about gay rights. 

Mariela Castro, 55, has been the champion gay issues in Cuba and has been the head of the National Center for Sex Education since 2000. 

Local 10 News sat down for an exclusive interview with Raul Castro's daughter to talk about her work and other issues, such as human rights in Cuba. 

"I want to respond politely," she said, when asked about the argument often made outside Cuba that there could be no gay rights when the Cuban government has a bad record on human rights.

Castro said she wants people to be informed.

"Get rid of your hate, your prejudices and stereotypes," Castro added, talking about the exile community in Miami. 

She urged exiles and Cuban-Americans in general to open their hearts and come discover the country of their heritage and reconnect with respect. 

There is a history there, she said, that wasn't the one you were taught. 

She said people should draw their own conclusion. 

Mariela Castro is one of two children from Cuban President Raul Castro's marriage to revolutionary Vilma Espin. 

When asked whether she has pride looking back at her life, she said she feels good about the life she has lived. 

She talked about her father.  

"He understands and supports my work," she said. "My mother was able to get that support early on. He made sure I didn't take advantage of being his daughter. He would not support me if I did."


On U.S.-Cuba relations, she gives former President Barack Obama credit  for accomplishing what she said many American presidents had not. 

But while there is an embargo, Mariela Castro thinks any economic development for Cuba is tough. 

She believes Cuba remains besieged. 

"We live in fear every time there is a change of president in the United States," she said, "because Cubans never know how aggressive the new leader will be towards Cuba."  

The links between both sides of the straits are strong and Mariela Castro reminds us most Cubans have family in South Florida. 

She wonders why obstacles remain in reuniting both sides.

Many Cubans speculate Mariela Castro could seek high office, but she she wants to remain an active citizen, sometimes a contrarian when she needs to be. 

"No, I'm not interested," she said when pressed her on a specific political post.

She remains satisfied with her current post as a member of the Cuban National Assembly, where she can continue fighting for her beliefs. 

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