Cuban government talks to LGBT group about parade

Cuban official: Saturday's 'alternate' parade was planned by Miami opposition

HAVANA, Cuba – During a dialogue where Raul Castro’s daughter was present, members of the Cuban LGTBQ community were told the now canceled gay parade would be used by foreign forces as the perfect scenario for their own agenda. 

Wednesday’s meeting was attended by a handful of concerned Cuban citizens who by way of a social media chat organized themselves and headed to the Ministry of Health in Havana’s Vedado neighborhood. 

Mariela Castro was at the meeting. She is the daughter of Communist Party Secretary and former President Raul Castro and heads the country’s National Center for Sex Education (CENESEX), a state-run organization in charge of gay issues and at the forefront of the ongoing pride activities including the parade. 

Organized groups could attack members of the LGBT community forcing police to act and create negative images around the world. That was one of the reasons organizers told the small group Saturday’s gay parade had been canceled Tuesday. 

The dialogue was cordial and respectful, said one of the attendees, who later asserted his group never ceded in voicing their disappointment and their argument over why the parade should not have been cancelled. 

“We would become part of the agenda of other groups,” they say they were told. 

“We told them we weren’t going to give up our rights,” the participant told the group. 

The dialogue with representatives from CENESEX was described as very positive. 

“Mariela [Castro] knew of our groups and alliances and was interested in our activities,” reported one of the participants of the conversation. 

The issue of church was also a topic of conversation and Mariela Castro reportedly told the group the church has been told it cannot spread propaganda on the streets; everything has to be done within their property. 

The Evangelical church played a crucial role in fighting Article 68 in the proposed constitutional which would have allowed a pathway to gay unions. The article was removed before Cubans voted on the referendum, which passed in February 2019. 

As for the alternate gay parade which has gained momentum on social media, the group was told it had been organized by Miami groups. 

CENESEX Assistant Director Manuel Vazquez is said to have screen captures to prove the alternate parade was planned outside. According to various social media postings, the event is expected to take place Saturday 4 p.m. at Havana’s Central Park.  

About the Author:

In January 2017, Hatzel Vela became the first local television journalist in the country to move to Cuba and cover the island from the inside. During his time living and working in Cuba, he covered some of the most significant stories in a post-Fidel Castro Cuba.