By Manuel E. Yepe
Exclusive to the daily POR ESTO! of Mérida, Mexico.
Political organizations and religious institutions of all kinds, tones, and colors have tried to legislate about what have been (or are) the most appropriate “carnal relations.”
An investigative work on homosexuality in several countries, by University of New Mexico professor emeritus of sociology, Nelson Valdés, states that the Bolsheviks in Russia criminalized homosexuality for a short time in 1922. But it has been a general rule that both communists, socialists and capitalist parties always avoid defining guidelines on sexual orientation.
Valdés points out that in the United States, the change came just on December 6, 2011, when US foreign policy manifested itself in defense of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender “rights” in some countries of the world. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton then announced a global LGBT policy, although she acknowledged that she was talking about this subject “knowing that my country’s record on human rights for homosexuals is far from adequate.”
Until 2003, it was a crime in the United States to be LGBT. Many homosexuals in the United States suffered violence and harassment. For some – among them many young people – harassment and exclusion continue to be daily realities. “Hence, as in all nations, we have a lot of work to do to protect human rights in our country,” Secretary of State Clinton said in a December 2011 statement.
His new international policy promised to open the borders of the United States to give aid and protection to the LGBT refugees and asylum seekers … as long as they came from those countries of which Washington demands regime change.
Practically, the United States had only added one more pretext for its intrusion into the internal affairs of those countries that defied American power.
Shortly afterward, in the mid-1970s, the media “influenced” by Washington within their own nation and around the world unleashed a great campaign on the alleged discrimination against homosexuals in Cuba.
Simultaneously, a media crusade was initiated to demonstrate that “the roots of homophobia in Cuba were in the revolution of Fidel Castro and the new Cuban communist leadership.” In 2000, the Cuban leader admitted his personal responsibility for not having promptly corrected the phenomenon, derived from the stubborn policies of years before the revolution.
Until 1973 homosexuality was considered a mental disorder by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and other related professions throughout the hemisphere shared similar attitudes. Homosexuality was considered until very recently a “deviation” and prohibited in the majority of the states of the United States. For its part, Cuba had inherited a macho culture because of long-standing attitudes, both in Spain and in the African cultures that contribute to its national identity.
However, in the last two decades, says Professor Nelson Valdes, the changes on issues of sexual identity and gender have been extraordinary. The Cuban media has played a systematic and concerted role in the education of the general population. Cinematography has been at the forefront in discussing these issues. In the last 13 years, Cuban television has more explicitly explored issues related to alternative sexual behavior.
The openness to openly gay behavior has not been limited to Havana alone. Homophobia is clearly in decline throughout the island as evidenced by the fact that gay and lesbian candidates are being elected to public office. A well-known foreign observer has pointed out that, in this area, “Cuba is much more liberal than the United States and Europe.”
What remains to be addressed is how it has been possible for a country characterized by such macho tendencies so entrenched in institutions, politicians, and national culture to have changed so much in the relatively short period of half a century and now that homophobia has become the enemy.
Indeed, the mainstream media and political and social leaders in the country have openly attempted to positively influence the population, in which some of the older people have tried to cling to the sexual and gender roles learned before the triumph Of the Cuban revolution.
Valdes highlights as a great achievement that Cubans have overcome the idea that machismo, manhood, and masculinity are the expressions of what defines a revolutionary. But, in my opinion, it is the awareness of the necessity of national unity for the defense of the revolution that has played an essential role in such a transcendental task for the progress of the human condition.
July 6, 2017.
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann.
A CubaNews translation by Walter Lippmann.
Recently, actress and American film director Jodie Foster was in Cuba. During her visit to Havana, the winner of two Oscars for Best Actress in 1989 and 1992 shared with specialists from the National Center for Sex Education (CENESEX).
Dr. Mariela Castro Espín shared her impressions about the meeting with Jodie on Facebook today:
“It was a pleasant surprise that the American actress Jodie Foster showed interest in knowing about our work at Cenesex Cuba, during her recent private visit to the Island with her wife, Alexandra Hedison, and her sons Charles and Kit, with whom we had a beautiful family evening” .
Open to scientific search, exchange of experiences and dialogue of knowledge, CENESEX counts on professionals of recognized prestige from different scientific disciplines who use a comprehensive approach in the study of sexuality.
Foster, whose performances in Taxi Driver, The Silence of the Lambs and Panic Room have always been in the memory of her followers, has now been added to the list of artists of the United States who have visited the Island after the approach initiated by Havana and Washington in December 2014.
Club Pulse in Orlando, Florida, this morning. Photo: Twitter
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
A man with an assault rifle and a pistol took hostages and shot at close range in a crowded nightclub in Orlando, Florida, killing 50 people and wounding 53 before being shot fatally by police commandos, the mayor reported on Sunday.
“There is blood everywhere,” said Mayor Buddy Dyer at a press conference.
Earlier, U.S. Representative Alan Grayson identified the assailant as Mateen Omar Port St. Lucie, Florida, based on what police sources said.
Police Chief John Mina said the attacker was also carrying some kind of “suspicious device”. He explained that the individual engaged in a shootout with a police officer who was inside the club at about 2 AM and then took hostages.
At about 5 AM, the authorities dispatched a SWAT team to rescue the hostages and the assailant was killed in a firefight with those agents. Mina had initially said said police did not determine the exact death toll, but were “about 20”.
Police commander Danny Banks said at a news conference that authorities are investigating the hypothesis that it could have been an act of domestic or international terrorism, but also that the assailant may have acted on his own. Orange County Police Chief, Jerry Demings, added: “From my point of view, this is an incident of domestic terrorism.”
FBI Special Agent Ron Hopper said that there was no additional threats in Orlando or surrounding areas. When asked if the attacker had any connection with Islamic terrorism, Hopper said, “we have evidence that this individual had leanings towards that.”
Police had earlier reported on Twitter that a “controlled explosion” had taken place, in the Club Pulse, Orlando, a popular nightclub among gays when the event happened. Mina said that it was an explosion detonated by police on purpose to distract the attacker.
A woman, Mina Justice, was outside the club Sunday morning trying to find her son Eddie, 30 years old, who had sent her a text message telling what happened and imploring him to call the police. He told her that he had locked himself in a bathroom with other people and then wrote “Here it comes”.
Justice said: “The last message he wrote was: ‘We have corralled, is in here with us.’ That was the last communication. “
Dozens of police vehicles, including vans of SWAT teams, rushed to the place urgently. At least two police vans were carrying what appeared to be those killed at the event to Orlando Regional Medical Center.
The nightclub, Pulse Orlando, published shortly after 2 am a note on its website saying: “Get out of the Pulse and run”. Just before 6 it made another posting in which it said: “As soon as we get the information we do get. Please keep them all in your prayers as we work in this tragic event. Thank you for your thoughts and your love. “
Police said the local, state and federal authorities are investigating the incident.
Research on the events involved local, state and federal agencies, police said.
The incident occurred after the death Saturday of a 33 year-old singer, Christina Grimmie, who was shot after a concert in Orlando by a 27-year-old from Florida who later committed suicide. Grimmie was a star on YouTube and had participated in the TV show “The Voice”.
Jon Alamo said it was in the back of one of the rooms of the nightclub when a man with a gun entered the front.
“I heard 20, 40, 50 shots,” Alamo said. “The music stopped.”
Another of those present at the disco, Rob Rick, said the incident took place around 2 am, shortly before closing time.
It is believed inside the club there were more than 100 people when the shots were heard. Those present crouched and crawled into the cab of a DJ. They tore down a separation between the area reserved for disco and workers and people could escape through the back of the living area.
(With information from agencies)
12 junio 2016
Club Pulse, en Orlando, Florida, esta madrugada. Foto: Twitter
Un hombre con un fusil de asalto y una pistola tomó rehenes y disparó a mansalva en un abarrotado club nocturno de Orlando, Florida, matando a unas 50 personas e hiriendo a 53 antes de ser abatido fatalmente por comandos policiales, informó el alcalde de la ciudad el domingo.
“Hay sangre por doquier”, expresó el alcalde Buddy Dyer en conferencia de prensa.
Poco antes, el representante Alan Grayson identificó al agresor como Omar Mateen de Port St. Lucie, Florida, con base en lo que le dijeron fuentes policiales.
El jefe policial John Mina dijo que el atacante también portaba algún tipo de “artefacto sospechoso”. Explicó que el individuo se entabló en una balacera con un policía que estaba dentro del club a eso de las 2 de la madrugada y luego se adentró y tomó rehenes.
A eso de las 5 de la mañana las autoridades despacharon un equipo SWAT para rescatar a los rehenes y el agresor murió en una balacera con esos agentes. Mina inicialmente había dicho dijo que la policía no determinó la cifra exacta de muertos, pero que fueron “aproximadamente 20″.
El comandante policial Danny Banks dijo en conferencia de prensa que las autoridades indagan la hipótesis de que pudo haberse tratado de un acto de terrorismo interno o internacional, pero también de que el agresor pudo haber actuado por su cuenta. El jefe policial del condado de Orange, Jerry Demings, agregó: “Desde mi punto de vista, esto se trata de un incidente de terrorismo interno”.
El agente especial del FBI Ron Hopper dijo que ya no había amenazas adicionales en Orlando o sus alrededores. Cuando se le preguntó si el atacante tenía conexión con el terrorismo islámico, Hopper contestó: “tenemos indicios de que ese individuo tenía inclinaciones hacia eso”.
La policía anteriormente había informado en Twitter que había ocurrido “una explosión controlada” en el lugar, el club Pulse Orlando, un centro nocturno popular entre los gays. Mina dijo que ese fue un estallido detonado a propósito por policías para distraer al atacante.
Una mujer, Mina Justice, estaba afuera del club la mañana del domingo tratando de encontrar a su hijo Eddie, de 30 años de edad, quien le había enviado un mensaje de texto narrando lo que sucedía e implorándole que llamara a la policía. Le dijo a ella que se había encerrado en un baño con otras personas y que luego escribió “Ahí viene”.
Justice afirmó: “El último mensaje que escribió fue: ‘Nos tiene acorralados, está aquí adentro con nosotros’. Esa fue la última comunicación”.
Decenas de vehículos policiales, entre ellos camionetas de equipos SWAT, acudieron con urgencia al lugar. Por lo menos dos camionetas de la policía se estaban llevando lo que parecían ser víctimas fatales del suceso al Orlando Regional Medical Center.
La discoteca, Pulse Orlando, publicó poco después de las 2 de la madrugada una nota en su página diciendo: “Salgan de Pulse y corran”. Justo antes de las 6 realizó otra publicación en la que decía: “Tan pronto como tengamos información se las vamos a hacer llegar. Por favor, mantengan a todos en sus oraciones mientras trabajamos en este trágico suceso. Gracias por sus pensamientos y su amor”.
La policía dijo que las autoridades locales, estatales y federales están investigando el incidente.
En la investigación sobre lo sucedido participan agencias locales, estatales y federales, dijo la policía.
El incidente ocurrió después de la muerte el sábado de una cantante de 22 años, Christina Grimmie, que fue baleada tras un concierto en Orlando por un hombre de 27 años de edad de Florida que más tarde se suicidó. Grimmie era una estrella en YouTube y había participado en el programa de televisión “The Voice”.
Jon Alamo dijo que estaba en la parte de atrás de una de las salas del club nocturno cuando un hombre con un arma entró en la parte de delante.
“Escuché 20, 40, 50 tiros”, dijo Alamo. “La música se detuvo”.
Otro de los presentes en la discoteca, Rob Rick, dijo que el incidente tuvo lugar alrededor de las 2 de la madrugada, poco antes de la hora de cierre.
Se cree en el interior del club había más de 100 personas cuando se escucharon los disparos. Los presentes se agacharon y se arrastraron hacia la cabina de un DJ. Derribaron una separación entre la zona de discoteca y un área reservada a trabajadores y la gente pudo escapar por la parte de atrás de la sala.
(Con información de agencias)
The film had its world premiere at the Telluride Film Festival, where it was a great success
Hector Medina stars in the film
Film “Viva”, set in Cuba and directed by Paddy Breathnatch, was chosen by the Irish Academy of Film and Television to represent the country at the Oscar Academy Awards as best foreign language film.
In this regard, Aine Moriarty, President of the Irish Academy, said: “The Irish Academy is delighted that this wonderful film by Paddy Breathnach and Mark O’Halloran represents Ireland at the Oscars. It reflects the creativity and diversity of points of view of this Irish team while shooting a Cuban story that is so tender, intriguing and visually captivating.”
The film had its world premiere at the Telluride Film Festival, where it was a success. In October, it will be presented at the Busan Festival.
Written by Mark O’Halloran, the drama follows Jesus, an 18 year old Cuban who is lost and trying to find his true identity. Unsure of himself or his future direction, he works at a drag queen club in Havana. There he pursues his dreams of becoming an actor, while earning money through prostitution.
He finds his oasis at home listening to the albums his mother and grandmother left him; or even watching the boxers who train next door. Then, something comes to his life that will challenge his direction and his freedom: his missing father, a famous boxer, who returns after spending 15 years in prison for killing a person in a street fight when Jesus was a child.
The cast includes Hector Medina, Jorge Perugorría and Luis Alberto Garcia.
BRIEF UPDATE, September 2015 Next week I’ll be returning to Cuba. This has been my longest time away since 1999 when I began regular visits. It’s been a year and a half. So much has changed since then! The Five are free and home. Diplomatic relations, broken by Washington in 1961, have been restored, and the process Cubans call “updating their economic model” has been continuing, as Raul Castro described it, “sin prisa, pero sin pausa”, which means “without rushing, but without stopping”. There’s so much to be learned and said about the process, which even the most attentive observer from abroad can barely begin to grasp. So now I’m looking forward with great anticipation to being able to catch up with friends and colleagues there, and to share with readers what I can see, hear and begin to try to understand. Below a link to my first extended commentary on Cuba, written after my second visit, fifteen years ago. Some remains valid, some has long since been resolved. Well, enough for now.
Los Angeles, California
September 8, 2015.
TWO MONTHS IN CUBA
Notes of a visiting Cuba solidarity activist
by Walter Lippmann
These are some notes on my visit to Cuba from November, 2000 to January, 2001. Some things in Cuba are very similar to the US, but many others are very, very different.
This essay doesn’t pretend to be a full-scale analysis of Cuba. That would be beyond its scope. These are my own observations, reflections and comments on things I myself personally saw, heard and did. Before and after visiting Cuba, I spent some time visiting Mexico, to get some perspective and to make a few comparisons. I hope you’ll find it useful.
On the final page of this essay, you’ll see links to some other pictures I took, and a page of references for useful English-language sources on Cuba so you can research Cuba further on your own.
WHY CUBA? WHY ME?
My interest in Cuba has deep family roots. My father and his parents lived there from 1939 to 1942. As Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany, they were unable to enter either Great Britain or the United States, despite having close relatives in each. The Roosevelt administration strictly enforced a restrictive quota on Jewish immigration. My father and his parents had to wait in Cuba until 1943 before obtaining permission to enter the US. I was born in New York City in 1944. (A good history of the Jewish experience in Cuba is Robert M. Levine’s 1993 Tropical Diaspora (ISBN:0-8130-1218-X). There’s also a novel which eloquently evokes the time when my father lived in Cuba, Passing Through Havana, by Felicia Rosshandler (ISBN: 0-312-59779-7).
My father took me to Cuba in August, 1956. We visited his old residence and met some of his old friends. I don’t remember much about it except that Cuba was a very hot and sticky place. (I was only 12 at the time.) We stayed briefly at the Hotel Nacional, and after that we moved to a smaller hotel. We traveled to Pinar del Rio with one old friend, John Gundrum, also a German immigrant, but one who’d never left Cuba.
In November, 2000 I made my second visit to Cuba as an adult. I’d spent three weeks there in late 1999, on a delegation of yoga teachers and students meeting and practicing with our Cuban counterparts. I knew more than most in the US about this Caribbean nation. I’ve read a lot of Cuban history, and followed Cuban affairs closely. Now I wanted to take a much closer look.
How do Cubans actually live, day-to-day? I wanted to get a sense of how they work, their likes, dislikes and so on. It’s one thing to hear and read about a place, in the media (Cuba is terrible place! People are dying to leave!) or, on the other hand, uncritically favorable accounts among the few left media sympathetic to Cuba.
My Spanish is limited, so I often had to depend on bilingual friends and acquaintances for answers and directions. During my 31-year career as a social worker for Los Angeles County, I learned some simple “street Spanish,” but not enough to carry on a complex conversation. I met many who speak, and wanted to practice, English, so I was able to get answers to my many questions.
In Havana I stayed with a Cuban family I’d met in 1999. One family member had recently quit the public sector job he’d had for 13 years, and entered self-employment. He translates Cuban TV scripts from Spanish into English as an independent contractor. Cuba hopes to sell these to providers like the Discovery Channel. He also translates for visiting journalists and filmmakers. Weeks before my arrival he’d worked with Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker Barbara Kopple, filming the Washington, D.C. ballet’s visit to the country. His mother is an engineer working for a government ministry. She belongs to the Cuban Communist Party. I didn’t pay rent, but bought the food and other items for the family. I often shopped and sometimes cooked for the family. I don’t think they’ve eaten so much garlic in their lives! (Fortunately, they like garlic…)
CUBA’S HISTORIC GOALS:
INDEPENDENCE AND A JUST SOCIETY
Essential to understanding today’s Cuba is the bitter history of US-Cuban relations. The two nations have had a long, close and tense connection. Nineteenth century US politicians discussed annexing the island. They tried to derail its independence, or thwart its efforts to forge a just society where the interests of Cubans was put first. Even now, most US politicians still act and speak as if they have the right to tell Cubans how to run Cuba. The revolution led by Fidel Castro and his compañeros is the most successful of Cuba’s efforts.
Backers of the overthrown Batista dictatorship were welcomed to the US. Washington opposed Cuban efforts to take control over national resources from foreign (mostly US) companies. It has opposed, and tried to turn back, the revolution at every turn. Washington and its supporters call this policy “the embargo.” Cuba calls it “the blockade.” This is because Washington relentlessly tries to bulldoze all other countries into supporting its anti-Cuban activities.
SINCE THE COLLAPSE OF THE SOVIET UNION
During Cuba’s alliance with the USSR and the states of Eastern Europe, the island received long-term contracts for its commodities at stable, and sometimes well-above world market prices. This provided the economic and military foundation for Cuba to survive Washington’s decades-long effort to starve it out. Washington had to think twice about military intervention. The island’s politics and economics were heavily influenced by the Soviet model.