Cuban President Raul Castro’s daughter, Mariela Castro, receives U.S. visa to attend conference in San Francisco

Indiana Jones
 
May 18, 2012 12:18 AM

Cuban President Raul Castro’s daughter, Mariela Castro, receives U.S. visa to attend conference in San Francisco


Andrea Rodriguez, The Associated Press

Published On Thu May 17 2012

Source - The Star


Mariela Castro, daughter of Cuban President Raul Castro, has been granted a U.S. visa to attend an academic conference in San Francisco. Castro, 50, will attend the Latin American Studies Association conference on May 23-26, and sources said she would be on a panel tackling the issue of sexual diversity. (May 16, 2012)


HAVANA—The Cuban president’s daughter, Mariela Castro, has been granted a U.S. visa to attend events in San Francisco and New York, sparking a firestorm of criticism from Cuban-American politicians who called her an enemy of democracy and a shill for the Communist government her family has led for decades.

 

The trip, which kicks off next week when Castro is due to chair a panel on sexual diversity at a conference organized by the Latin American Studies Association, is among several to the United States by prominent Cubans, some with close links to the government. Cuban academics, scientists and economists now frequently attend seminars in the United States, and Cuban artists and entertainers are also finding it easier to visit the U.S. due to an easing of travel restrictions by U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration.

 

Castro, 50, is a noted advocate of gay rights and head of Cuba’s National Centre for Sex Education. She has pushed for the island to legalize gay marriage for years, so far without success. She recently praised Obama’s stance in support of same sex marriage, and said her father, Cuban President Raul Castro, also favours such a measure, though he has not said so publicly.

 

It will not be Mariela Castro’s first visit to the United States. She was granted a visa to attend an event in Los Angeles in 2002, during Republican President George W. Bush’s administration, and also made stops in Virginia and Washington.

 

Prominent Americans have also been frequent visitors to Cuba. Former U.S. president Jimmy Carter came last March, and a bipartisan delegation led by U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, was in Cuba in February, meeting with President Castro as well as an imprisoned American subcontractor.

 

Carmelo Mesa-Lago, the dean of Cuba economy-watchers and an expert at the University of Pittsburgh, said Cuba has long had a large presence at the LASA conference, without sparking much protest.

 

“Academic exchanges like these are not new, but what’s different in this case is who she is,” he said.

 

The LASA International Congress, which includes hundreds of sessions on academic topics, takes place May 23-26 in San Francisco, a city closely associated with the history of the gay rights movement. Cuba’s state-run press said Castro will be among 40 Cuban experts in attendance.

 

According to the website of the New York Public Library, Castro is also to take part in a May 29 talk with Rea Carey, director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, about international gay rights, as well as sexual identity and orientation in Cuba.

 

The trip was confirmed by an official at her institute and a State Department official, both of whom spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter. The State Department official said several other Cubans who wanted to attend the LASA conference were denied visas.

 

State Department Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland declined to comment, citing rules that prohibit discussion of individual visa applications. But she said that if Castro shows up in San Francisco it would be a “fair assumption” that she had entered the country legally.

 

LASA president Maria Herminia Tavares de Almeida, a University of Sao Paulo professor of international relations and political science, said Castro was selected for her expertise on gender issues, not for her famous family.

 

“She’s coming as any other researcher or participant that has attended a call for papers and had their paper accepted,” Almeida told The Associated Press in a phone interview. “It’s an academic issue, not a political issue.”

 

Mariela Castro, despite being the president’s daughter and niece of retired revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, has no official link to the government, though her organization presumably receives state funding. It is not known whether she is a Communist party member.

 

Cuban-American Sen. Robert Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, slammed the visa decision on Wednesday, even before the visit was announced.

 

Menendez called Mariela Castro “a vociferous advocate of the regime and opponent of democracy.” On Thursday, four other Cuban-American lawmakers added their voices to the outcry, noting that State Department guidelines prohibit visas to officers of the Communist party or government of Cuba.

 

“The administration’s appalling decision to allow regime agents into the U.S. directly contradicts congressional intent and long-standing U.S. foreign policy,” wrote Representatives Mario Diaz-Balart, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and David Rivera of Florida, along with Albio Sires of New Jersey in a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

 
 
 
 
May 18, 2012 12:25 AM

Cuba must adopt market reforms and give its citizens from freedom. The US will do more for Cuba if they genuinely show intentions of wanting to change to a more free and democratic society.

 
 
 
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May 18, 2012 5:43 PM

I am glad she was granted a visa; she will see first hand what democracy really is in America. Cuba still has cars running from the 1960s. Guyana is far better in many respects, except in the medical profession.

 
 
 
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May 18, 2012 8:45 PM

Dude she knows about democracy and capitalism. The US granted the visa so she could come see and go make demand changes . I am sure the Cuban Floridian billionaires will be there to entertain her and show her the good life and even tell her how many hundreds of billions they have sitting waiting to invest in Cuba . The day Cuba's doors open trillions upon trillions will flow into that island and it will once again became the enchanted caribbean place to be .

 
 
 
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martin Carter
 
May 18, 2012 10:59 PM

Anthony Bourdain did a program on Cuba and the place needs reforms. Her visit will or can help to break some barriers, hopefully.  

 
 
 
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Indiana Jones
 
May 18, 2012 11:45 PM

Relations will gradually improve between Cuba and the US-of-A, -- similar to how issues were addressed between the US-of-A and the soviet-bloc countries.

 
 
 
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May 19, 2012 12:36 AM

Even though Mariela is a gay and lesbian political advocate she is as straight as a Gillette razor.  She like the men and not the ladies.  I always believed she was a lesbo until recently when I found out she was straight as a Gillette razor.

 
 
 
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May 19, 2012 10:01 AM

Originally Posted by Wally:

Even though Mariela is a gay and lesbian political advocate she is as straight as a Gillette razor.  She like the men and not the ladies.  I always believed she was a lesbo until recently when I found out she was straight as a Gillette razor.

like you been investigating the lady preferences ! like yuh gat a hard on fuh she .

 
 
 
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May 19, 2012 10:12 AM

Originally Posted by Demerara_Guy:

Relations will gradually improve between Cuba and the US-of-A, -- similar to how issues were addressed between the US-of-A and the soviet-bloc countries.

I believe the relations will be more than gradual. Cuba urgently needs serious cash influx , Fidel and Raul know it and they are old tired men whose hindsight is indicating they f69ked up big time ! Cuba has a dual economy with two distinct systems operating side by side. The socialist peso economy applies to most Cubans, providing them with free education, free health care, universal employment, unemployment compensation, disability and retirement benefits and the basis necessities of life: food, housing, utilities and very little entertainment at very low cost. The free-market dollarized  economy operates in the tourist international and export sectors, and substantially sustains the socialist economy which is owned by the govt and which employs over 90% of cubans. The remaining percentage of cubans were allowed private farming which is very subsistance and very small businesses which never grew or expanded. Since the USSR subsidies were cut with the break up of the USSR the country has been sinking. Imagine if Jagan was allowed to take Guyana down the same road how far worse Guyana would have been. All alyuh PPPites would be speaking Spanish and Cubans would have become the new colonial masters for the USSR. Since the USSR collapsed/dissolved in 1991 many russian states have not yet recovered from the neglect by socialist politics and economy and it's been 21 years. In russians states one has to pay dearly to grow and expand a business , much like whats going on in Guyana under the PNC/Burnham rule and the PPP/Jagan/Jagdeo/Ramoutar rule. I dont believe this will happen when Cuban capitulates because expat cubans will makes sure the economy opens up rapidly and politics plays second fiddle .

 
Last edited by kidmost May 19, 2012 10:22 AM
 
 
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