14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, 11 May 2020 — The independent LGBTI community is not willing to forget what happened on May 11, 2019. That day, when the Government suppressed a peaceful march that they had organized on the Paseo del Prado in Havana, has become for Cuban activists the date they commemorate the fight against repression. That is why, from the first moment, they began to organize events for this 11 May which, due to the coronavirus, had to be converted into virtual events.
11M, one year after the march in Cuba is the forum arranged by a group of activists from Havana, and will begin at two in the afternoon and be broadcast through the Facebook page Dame le mano (Give me your hand). The forum aims to “reflect on what has been generated, in this time, in terms of public policies, social initiatives and the challenges that still persist for the Cuban LGBTI community.”
The group has called for comments in the virtual forum-debate from 1:00 in the afternoon with the hashtags #11M, #CubaDiversa and #LosDerechosNoSePlebiscitan (Rights are not subject to a plebiscite).
Jancel Moreno is one of the activists who participated in the 2019 march. On that day, he explains to 14ymedio, “the Cuban LGBTIQ Movement was born, because for the first time, it was possible to gather around 300 people, between LGBTI and allies, to demand our rights, to say ’Yes We Can’ and we want ’a Diverse Cuba’,” he explains.
A few hours after the event began, the activist denounced that “the page on which the celebration of the first anniversary of 11M was planned is missing from the networks. I cannot access it, and neither can the other people on the team. It is not even published in the search engine,” he regrets.
Around 9:00 in the morning, the Dame la Mano page was visible as this newspaper could verify, but an hour later the content appears to be not available.
Maykel González Vivero, director of the digital magazine Tremenda Nota, also participated in the march repressed on May 11.
“The activism that is working in Cuba today is organizing a virtual forum on the challenges facing the LGBTI community with a new Constitution, but without the right of association for groups that are already organized or equal marriage. These are the paradoxes of the LGBTI community: May 11 comes amid several controversies, such as those caused by Mariela Castro this week. The commemoration will be virtual because the epidemic requires it, but the LGBTI community seems determined to use the date to reflect and to build more spaces for debate,” he says.
From exile, the activist Yosmany Mayeta, called a virtual formum “in solidarity with that day,” which will feature the participation of the presenter Alex Otaola, the actor Roberto San Martín and the filmmaker Joe Cardona.
The May 11, 2019 march was a spontaneous reaction of rejection of the cancellation of the “annual conga against homophobia,” an official parade called by the National Center for Sexual Education led by the Mariela Castro, Raul Castro’s daughter and a deputy to the National Assembly of People’s Power.
The independent march managed to gather hundreds of participants on that occasion, but before being able to reach the Malecon it was dissolved by State Security officers and the police. At least seven people were violently detained and many of the participants were subsequently summoned and threatened in search of a suspected leader of the call to march. They were also derided by Mariela Castro, who called them “lackeys of mercenary activism” in statements released by the entire official press.
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