Infanta Mariela Castro is brave: the insignificant commoner Yoani crashed a day when she woke up “more lucid than usual” (less bad), and asked her about something “that had nothing to do with the issue of the meeting.” Well, yes, despite the lucidity of the great social researcher and the “professional and scientific rigor of the meeting” of her personal social gathering that took place in Belles Artes, Yoani left without the answer she’d hoped for and the Infanta, at that moment, froze a smile somewhere between perplexed and incredulous on her face. And for this, no less: a mere mortal invaded her Parnassus and dared to suggest extending the debate on tolerance to other spheres of social life, beyond the thalamus of intimate relations and the sexual orientation of each person. Yes, Yoani, what a smart aleck! And ignorant, imagine not even knowing that one only attends these meetings of the anointed one to listen and to honor.
I will never understand the contrary Infanta who, on this occasion, instead of babbling nonsense, had a golden opportunity to demonstrate that she herself is a brilliant shining light, which is not possible for a self-proclaimed social researcher locked in her own world—and enjoying, by the way, all the impunity of her many illustrious names—to avoid professional responsibilities. For my part, I worked for over 20 years in the Social Sciences Institute of this country and I know that in the majority of cases the investigations that lay bare the profound social conflicts of this nation are never published.
For that reason I’m not going to appeal to such a notable lady from the point of view of politics (which appears to be foreign and uncomfortable for her) but from the perspective of social research which she refers to in her complaining message, “To Arturo.” As she seems to consider it not her place to debate current aspects of Cuban society that have nothing to do with narrow framework of sexuality and gender, I would like to know her opinion of how official policy has manifested itself around the subject of sexuality—her specialty, as she says—throughout the last 50 years. I am particularly interested in the long-silenced reality of the so-called Military Units to Assist Production (UMAP), to which the government sent thousands of homosexuals, as well as ‘inconvenient’ heterosexuals, to perform hard labor during the 1960s and part of the 1970s. It would interest me to know why the government has never explained its motive for denying homosexuals entry into the ranks of the Communist Party of Cuba, (although I, were I one of them, would take this as a favor), or by virtue of what peculiar politics they have not been allowed to fill certain management positions or hold certain jobs.
Lady Mariela’s reaction has been not only disproportionate but also hypocritical and misleading. Her reference to independent Cuban bloggers as dissidents and mercenaries linked to “the Empire” is the same old tiresome story. Everyone who thinks differently is the enemy: nothing is more alien to the tolerance she preaches. The question Yoani asked has no effect on the sovereignty of Cuba, it appeals to the rights of millions of Cubans. We still haven’t heard an apology from this government—which so generously funds Mariela’s “research”—for the decades of abuse and atrocities against those “different,” homosexual or otherwise.