14ymedio, Yoani Sánchez, Havana, 4 December 2023 — The demand for “a Palestine free from Israeli occupation” and a congratulation to health personnel on Latin American Medicine Day are the most recent publications on the Facebook accounts of the Federation of Cuban Women (FMC) and the National Sexual Education Center (Cenesex). According to both entities, Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel’s visit to Iran, a country with one of the most misogynistic and homophobic policies in the world, does not deserve criticism or condemnation.
The silence of the FMC and Cenesex is hardly surprising. With a selective view when denouncing attacks on women and the LGBTI community, these two entities have a long history of pointing out the slightest hint of violence in Western democracies and remaining silent, with complicity, about the young Iranians hanged for having a homosexual relationship. If gender aggression occurs in New York or Berlin they will amplify it, but if the setting is Tehran or Moscow it will not be mentioned in the newspapers controlled by the Cuban Communist Party (PCC).
The official press ignored, for example, the importance of the “Women, Life, Freedom” protests, which began as a demand for women’s rights and went on to become a social movement seeking the end of the ayatollah regime, the economic opening of the country and the establishment of a political model of respect for civic freedoms.
The trigger for these historic demonstrations, which filled the Iranian streets with young people willing to do anything to shake off authoritarian and hypocritical rulers, was also little mentioned in the island’s media. one only has to review the articles published about Iran from September 2022, when the young Mahsa Amini died in police custody, detained for not wearing the Islamic veil, to realize that praise for Tehran’s actions was the informative tone chosen by the PCC.
Havana has also not commented on the Iranian protesters killed by law enforcement, a number that several organizations estimate to be close to 500
Havana has also not commented on the Iranian protesters killed by law enforcement forces, a number that several independent organizations estimate to be around 500, to which must be added thousands of injured and at least 20,000 arrested. Even less has it informed its audience inside the Island that last September the Iranian Parliament approved a new law that makes the punishments for violating the dress code more severe.
If women were previously penalized with between ten days and two months in prison for wearing the Islamic veil incorrectly or not wearing it at all, now they can spend five to ten years in prison for the same offense. The fines for these contraventions have also multiplied considerably and the regulations punish the owners of businesses that serve women who fail to comply with the strict rules.
Díaz-Canel has arrived in that country, where the ideological pillars of the Islamic Republic rise above the female body and crush the freedom to choose, from how to wear one’s hair to one’s sexual preference. Like the FMC and Cenesex, the Cuban leader will not say a single word about the “gender apartheid” that the ayatollahs have imposed and that forces segregation by sex in universities, hospitals and other public spaces. Meekly, his wife, non-first lady Lis Cuesta, will cover herself with a veil while she is in that nation.
With their silence and opportunism, both seek to ingratiate themselves with the Iranian regime so that it supports the faltering Cuban dictatorship with resources, fuel and diplomatic support. Along the way, they will take the opportunity to harshly criticize Israel, the European Union and the United States while ensuring that the “ties of friendship” between Havana and Tehran are unbreakable. Ties that, instead of focusing on the well-being of both peoples, have served all these years for both regimes to watch each other’s backs.
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