Fidel Castro Apologizes For Treatment Of Gays During The Revolution

1969 was an eventful year for me, for the Left and for L/G folks.  I came out and transitioned.  People’s Park happened and white kids were shot at and killed by the police, a year before Kent State.  The Weatherman faction of SDS expelled the Progressive Labor faction (PL was neither progressive nor actual laborers).  Stonewall happened.

Gay and lesbian people were denouncing the treatment of L/G folks in Cuba.  Even though L and G didn’t include people with transsexualism I considered myself a part of that struggle as well as part of Weather.

Therefore I was dismayed at the low level of consciousness displayed by members of the straight Left including the Weather faction when so many went running off to Cuba that summer to join the Venceremos Brigade on what was ostensibly a mission to aid in the harvest of Cuba’s sugar cane but which came off as a junket by those on the Left who were affluent enough to afford the trip during which they got to meet Castro.

Many of us were angered by the failure of those privilege folks, the elite of the straight left to confront Castro over his abuse of L/G people.

Perhaps if they had it would have awakened Fidel’s awareness of his counter-revolutionary stance regarding L/G people much earlier.

From Latin Dispatchhttp://latindispatch.com/2010/09/01/fidel-castro-apologizes-for-treatment-of-gays-during-the-revolution/

Today in Latin America

Top Story — Former Cuban President Fidel Castro has been in the news a good amount recently.

In an interview with the Mexican newspaper La Jornada, the former Cuban head said that in the early years of the revolution homosexuals were persecuted and that he regretted that they were marginalized or sent to agrarian reform camps as punishment.

“If someone is responsible, it’s me,” he said, according to the BBC.

Castro added that he was too busy dealing with attacks against him and his government to put a stop to homophobic attitudes within his regime.

The communist government did however soon change their stance on homosexuality. In 1979 homosexuality was decriminalized and there have been recent efforts to legalize same-sex unions.

Continue reading at:  http://latindispatch.com/2010/09/01/fidel-castro-apologizes-for-treatment-of-gays-during-the-revolution/

11 Responses to “Fidel Castro Apologizes For Treatment Of Gays During The Revolution”

  1. Andrea B Says:

    Ever notice how many people wear T-shirts of Castro and Che Chuvera?

    Both had progroms against gays.

  2. Andrea B Says:

    @ Suzan,

    Trust me on this, he would not like you.

    If he had met you, he would have summarily executed you, without any hesitation.

    He is made out to be cool. He was far from cool.

    • Suzan Says:

      Your opinion. I seriously disagree.

      I have always been in far more danger from conservatives than from any left winger. And my politics were closer to those of the Cuban revolutionaries in the 1960s than they were to even the liberals in my country.

  3. tinagrrl Says:

    It always pays to remember that homosexuality was ILLEGAL in almost the entire USA in the 60’s.

    Stonewall happened for a reason.

    By the way, homosexuality was illegal in Great Britain until 1967.

    Homosexuality was decriminalized in The Republic of Ireland in 1993.

    etc., etc., etc.

    As I remember, there was no hue and cry about the treatment of homosexuals in Cuba back in the 60’s — folks either didn’t give a damn, or thought it a good policy. All of the hand wringing by some folks today simply ignores the realities of the time.

  4. Andrea B Says:

    @ Suzy and Tina,

    I don’t care if they were communist, capitalist or whatever. Being in a communist, capitalist, social democracy or any other form of government does not excuse pogroms against citizens or groups in society, in any manner or to even the slightest extent.

    People who have taken part in pogroms against minority groups, I do not see as cool, great or good in any way. I see them for what they are. They are or were power mad, twisted, hate fill, murderous psychopaths. A political stance of any description, does not make persecution of law abiding minorities acceptable in any form.

    Being left wing, right wing or having any other political stance does not excuse bigoted behaviour or persecuttion of anyone. To me they are all bigots.

    Joeseph Stalin, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Joe Mc Carthy, Tomás de Torquemada, Che Chevura, Adolf Hitler, Fidel Castro, Justinian I, Joeseph Ratzinger, etc, have all persecuted homosexuals. They have all attacked minorities that could not defend themselves and used there positions to disenfrachise entire groups in society.

    At least Castro has had the decency to apologise for the people he had tortured, jailed and summarily executed, unlike the rest of them. His apology in his twilight years does not make what he did right, but at least he has taken that small step in the right direction, for what he did to one of many minorities.

    The norm of the times does not excuse bigoted behaviour towards different groups in society. Bigotted persecution in a previous time, does not make the actions of a persecuting bigot aceptable in any way.

    According to the norm of the time, Tomás de Torquemada was morally acceptable to the majority in society. Torquemada was wrong then, is wrong now and will always be wrong for the horrors he inflicted.

    The norm 3 centuries ago was for black people to be slaves. Slavery was wrong then, is wrong now and will always be wrong.

    The persecution of women was always wrong, it is wrong now and will always be wrong.

    The persecution of homosexual people was always wrong, it is wrong now and will always be wrong.

    That has always been, is now and always will be my point of view, on the subject.

  5. tinagrrl Says:

    Of course all the things you enumerated were wrong then and are wrong now.

    How does that matter when we are talking about stuff that actually happened, and was accepted by society at the time?

    Today, if you ask most people they will say, “women have achieved equality” — they have not, and it does not seem they will in the near future.

    People have been “brainwashed” to THINK we have achieved equality.

    It’s no different when people say LGBT folks are asking for “special rights”. Anyone with half a brain knows that’s not so.

    My point is that persecution of “difference” is common in society. Persecution of homosexuals was very common in society back in the 50’s and 60’s.

    it doesn’t make it right — it just was.

    The fact Fidel actually apologized makes him far different than all the other leaders who defended, and defend their policies to this day.

    as far as Che went — his fight against imperialism makes him a heroic figure to many folks — in spite of his many flaws.

    Look back to the 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s, look at how entrenched anti-Semitism was (and still is in many cases). Look at the covert, and overt racism that still exists to this day.

    All these things are wrong.

    Now, look at all the “single issue” voters who vote based on ONE issue — no matter what else the candidate believes.

    How does that make sense?

    Oh yeah — according to your thinking, every Prime Minister, every President, who supported homophobic, racist, anti-labor, anti-union, anti-women, policies — should be put in the very same group with Stalin, Hitler, the Pope, McCarthy, etc., etc., etc. Their policies harmed people, disenfranchised them, denied (and deny) them the full rights of citizenship. Shall we now judge them all as total failures in spite of all the good they may have done?

  6. Andrea B Says:

    @ Tina,

    Your statement.
    ——————————–
    Oh yeah — according to your thinking, every Prime Minister, every President, who supported homophobic, racist, anti-labor, anti-union, anti-women, policies — should be put in the very same group with Stalin, Hitler, the Pope, McCarthy, etc., etc., etc. Their policies harmed people, disenfranchised them, denied (and deny) them the full rights of citizenship. Shall we now judge them all as total failures in spite of all the good they may have done?
    ———————————

    Adolf Hitler got the trains to run on time, reduced unemployment and built an impressive motorway network. That was good work. It still does not excuse the millions he killed.

    Several good acts does not excuse exterminating a minority.

    Castro and Chevara had a lot of gays put up against a wall and shot. No act they did after that, will excuse there behaviour.

    Tony Blair helped in the effort to achieve peace in Northern Ireland, then went on to take part in the slaughter of approximately one millions Iraqi’s. Do you think he is wonderful?

    Several good acts or one good act, does not excuse mass slaughter, persecution or extermination of any groups in society.

    It does not matter if a person is on the right, left, center or whatever. If they slaughter an entire minority, they are a complete bastard in my eyes, no matter how many other good things they have done.

    You really need to think about what you are defending in your comments.

    • Suzan Says:

      “Castro and Chevara had a lot of gays put up against a wall and shot. No act they did after that, will excuse there behaviour.”

      I highly approve of what the French Revolutionaries did to the royals. I approve of what the Bolsheviks did with the Czar and family. What Mao did to the land lords.

      You are repeating a right wing lie regarding Cuba and gays. The people who were shot were active counter revolutionaries. The gays who were sent to prison were sent there for the same acts of being gay that they were being sent to prison for in the USA at the time.

      I approve of revolutionary violence towards the rich and powerful elites because the aggregate pain they have inflicted on the masses is so great and their power is so great that capital punishment is the only way to insure they never again come to power.

  7. tinagrrl Says:

    What I’m saying is that every Prime Minister or President of every nation committed crimes against LGBT/T folks back in the 50’s and 60’s.

    The campaign against Alan Turing, his conviction, subsequent treatment, and eventual suicide is merely one example of a person who should have been hailed a hero being destroyed by actions of The State.

    Here in the USA, if a person was “outed” back then any career they might have had was usually over. People were forced to become “outlaws”, eaking out a living as best possible.

    Nobody gave a damn.

    Was it right?

    No.

    Did anyone care?

    No.

    It was a way of keeping anyone who was “different” in line.

    As I said, Stonewall happened for a reason.

    Does this make any of it right?

    No.

    It’s not about “the trains running on time” — it is about the state of society back when I was a child. It’s about being trained to hate, being brought up to dismiss, dislike, and even hate certain people without even knowing them.

    There were pogroms throughout Europe at different times.

    The Jews were expelled from England and Wales in 1290, from Spain in 1492, from France in 1182, 1306, 1321, from Tunis in 1535, etc., etc., etc.

    Hatred is nothing new. It has been used as a tool of the state from the beginning. Heck, in 1731 there was an Edict Of Expulsion issued against all the Protestants in Salzburg. “The Protestant Salzburgers in Prussian Lithuania kept a distinct ethnic German identity over the following centuries, keeping their language in churches and schools. Their descendants were expelled after World War II.” (Wikipedia).

    Hatred has been a tool wielded by religions and the state from the very beginning.

    Looking at that over time, the USA, however bad it’s record seems to be, is still far better than most European Asian, and African countries. We usually manage to deal with a very diverse population — notwithstanding the current waves of hatred many people seen as different face today. Our current “nativist”, anti-gay, anti-Muslim, anti-damn-near-everything, groups are not the USA at its best.

    Does this excuse anti-gay actions by other nations — no, but nor does it excuse the anti-gay history, anti-gay teaching, anti-gay actions spread around the world by colonial “masters”, by colonizing religions.

    In this discussion, there are no innocents.

    The goal is to change the present — not dwell on the past.

  8. tinagrrl Says:

    By the way. anti-Semitism seems to be institutionalized in both the USA and Great Britain. Anti-gay attitudes are also. Racism is so deeply entrenched that most folks deny they are racist.

    It’s just a part of everyday life. Epithets are (or were) thrown around as normal parts of conversation — wherever it was deemed “safe”. At the very same time, none of those folks thought of themselves as racist, homophobic, or anti-Semitic. It’s all very interesting, and very depressing.


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