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ON MONDAY, Cuba’s electoral authority announced that, by a majority, marriage and adoption for same-sex couples had been approved in a referendum held on September 25. According to official information, 67% of voters, some 4 million, supported the proposal.
The international mainstream press celebrated the outcome. In one article, The New York Times called it a “historic decision”. The White House and activists around the world applauded, recognizing “the decision of the Cuban people”. All the hype about the so-called referendum is intended to cloak in lies what has been undeniable for decades: there is no democracy in Cuba.
Those who emphasize the “decision of the Cuban people” suggest that Cubans decided in a referendum in which, in addition, they had guarantees. This is a lie. Most reports from inside Cuba denounce the lack of transparency and the Cuban Communist Party’s manipulation of an alleged referendum that looked more like theater.
Since the beginning of the Cuban Revolution in the early 1960s, Cuba has been a dictatorship fully controlled by the Communist Party and the Castro family. It has been a bloody dictatorship, marked by its public executions, its ruthless intelligence apparatus and the impoverishment of the island. And nothing has changed about it.
Nothing happens in Cuba without the consent of the regime, today led by dictator Miguel Díaz-Canel, but under the decisive influence of Raúl Castro, Fidel’s younger brother. If a so-called referendum approved same-sex marriage on the island, it was because it was convenient for the Cuban Communist Party. It was convenient for the approval of equal marriage as it was convenient decades ago for the persecution of homosexuals. Because it is worth mentioning: where today same-sex marriage is approved, years ago homosexuals were forced to work in concentration camps and were persecuted. The victimizers then are the same as they are now.
For the left of the last century, the chic was the bearded and ragged fighter. The fragile epic of Fidel Castro and his guerrillas captivated the world’s left, which for decades prostrated itself at the feet of the Cuban Revolution, despite its crimes. Today, weapons are not fashionable and the vogue is identity.
In order to continue to captivate the world’s left, the Cuban regime adapts and, from torturing homosexuals in concentration camps, today celebrates them and makes them state policy. A gross manipulation that should be repudiated by homosexuals all over the world.
“The regime instrumentalizes the LGBTQ+ issue to insert itself into relevant topics on the Western agenda, seeking dollars and pretending to divert attention from its crimes against humanity,” Rosa María Payá explained, the courageous Cuban activist and freedom advocate who is currently living in Miami.
Payá told me that the regime is “simulating a process of opening that does not exist.”
The reality is that “the Cuban people have not decided for more than 6 decades because they simply do not have the freedom or the rights to do so.”
Regarding articles in media outlets such as the New York Times, Payá was clear: “By now these media outlets should know that there can be no minority rights if there are no human rights.”
That last sentence is revealing. Rosa María Payá, who carries in her blood the bravery of her father, Oswaldo Payá, who stood up to the regime until he was taken out of the game in a suspicious “accident,” explained to me what the Cuban regime’s supposed valuation of minorities and the reality experienced by LGBTQ groups is really like.
“It is false that the regime allows LGBTQ rallies. It allows demonstrations that are organized by the regime or that it controls and which are aligned with its objectives. LGBTQ activists who act independently are victims of political persecution and discrimination. Gay men who are political prisoners in Cuba are forced to walk naked inside the prison and suffer all kinds of physical and psychological humiliation by the authorities. There is no change in the authorities towards respect for the human dignity of all people regardless of how they choose a partner.”
“This mock referendum is part of the whitewashing that the dictatorship has been trying for some time,” she told me, bluntly.
Regarding the fake referendum, the U.S. embassy in Cuba tweeted: “We celebrate the Cuban people’s decision to support marriage equality and adoption privileges for all families.” In this regard, Payá was harsh: “This congratulation seems a mockery of the repression and violence suffered by Cubans, regardless of their sexual orientation. It is incomprehensible that the U.S. government recognizes a vote that did not meet the most basic standards of transparency, justice and freedom.
“The pronouncement by the U.S. Embassy in Havana re-victimizes the Cuban people who, contrary to what the tweet says, did not ‘decide,'” Rosa María Payá added.
Dictator Díaz-Canel took advantage of his farce to boast: “The “yes” vote won. Justice has been done (…) A debt has been settled with several generations of Cubans, whose family projects have been waiting for years for this law. From today we will be a better nation. Love is law”. Nicolás Maduro, another bloodthirsty dictator, famous for his homophobic bravado, congratulated him: “A historic day, which continues to deepen the revolutionary struggle for the protection of families. Great Cuba!
In his best-known book, Antes que Anochezca, Cuban writer Reinaldo Arenas wrote a testimony of what happens to homosexuals in Cuba. Persecution, harassment and torture. Ghosts that accompanied him for the rest of his life until, powerless, he took his own life on December 7, 1990 in New York. Reinaldo Arenas blamed Fidel Castro for his death in a letter he left behind.
The Cuban dictatorship cannot tell the world that today it is inclusive and tolerant, when it drags sacks full of corpses like that of Reinaldo Arenas. People who died for what they were, for how they lived. That is, in the end, the true legacy of the Revolution, which cannot be erased with a law passed in a buffoonery that they want to sell us as a referendum. It is a lie that the Cuban people voted. Someday they will, but they did not do it on September 25.