Silvio Rodriguez Criticizes the Repression of the LGBTI March in Havana

In the midst of a strong police operation, 300 people paraded without incident through the central Paseo del Prado to Havana’s Malecon. (14ymedio)

14ymedio biggerEFE (via 14ymedio), Havana, 13 May 2019 — Singer-songwriter Silvio Rodríguez endorsed, on Sunday, the criticism published by singer-songwriter Vicente Feliú about the “absurd, shameful, dangerously evocative repression” of the LGBTI demonstration held on Saturday in Havana by independent activists and without permission from the authorities.

“With my eyes wide open, I subscribe to every word of what Vicente said on his Facebook,” the artist wrote in the comments section of his blog, Segunda Cita, which has become for many intellectuals and citizens point of meeting and debate about the news of Cuba.

Hours earlier, Feliú had published in his account of that social network that “the absurd, embarrassing, dangerously evocative repression” of the gay march “is definitely indefensible.”

LGBTI activists and State Security agents clashed on Saturday during a demonstration called without permission after the annual gay pride march organized by the official National Center for Sex Education (Cenesex), led by Mariela Castro, daughter of ex-president Raúl Castro, was cancelled.

Mariela Castro, who is a deputy to the National Assembly, wrote on Sunday on her Facebook account that the march was a ’show’ that was “supported by officials of the US embassy and covered by the foreign press.”

Castro added the above comment when reposting a comment from the Chilean activist, Víctor Hugo Robles, who said that “advances in the rights of LGBTIQ communities always have contradictions.”

Robles also said that “the images of the march of diversity in the streets of Havana this Saturday May 11, 2019 hide not only the legitimate desire for greater spaces of rights for everyone, but the staging of an orchestrated operation that seeks to question the outstanding and essential work of CENESEX.”

This is the first time in decades that a demonstration without official permission has taken place in Cuba, in an unprecedented challenge from the independent civil society to the authorities of the Island.

In the midst of a strong police presence, about 300 people paraded without incident through the central Paseo del Prado but at the end of that avenue and, when the marchers headed towards the Malecón, many policemen in uniform and plainclothes ordered the march to disperse.

The activists refused on the grounds that they did not need permission to walk around Havana and that was when clashes took place with police and State Security agents forcibly detaining between four and seven people, according to eyewitnesses. There were no official reports about the total number of people arrested.

The announcement this week that the traditional conga against homophobio would be suspended, with the justification that the country is preparing to face a serious economic crisis, caused a great deal of discomfort in the LGBTI group, which questioned why other mass activities, such as the recent May Day parade celebrating Labor Day, were carried out as usual.

Had it gone forward, the cancelled conga would have been the first one held after the approval, in April, of the new Constitution. Initial drafts of the document included a modification that opened the doors to equal marriage on the Island, but ultimately this was not included in the final text.

That issue was one of the most controversial in the popular debates on the Constitution and provoked a strong campaign against the measure by the evangelical and Catholic churches.

The LGTBI collective has been gaining visibility during the last decade in Cuba, in contrast to the first years of the Revolution when homosexuals were persecuted and sent to work camps, one of the darkest chapters in the recent history of the Island.


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