Navid Fernández Cabrera, president of the Shui Tuix Foundation, in a press release said two security agents were standing in an intersection near his home in Havana’s 10 de Octubre neighborhood around 8 a.m. when he and his partner left their apartment building.
Fernández said he and his partner were trying to go to the Prado, a boulevard that divides Old Havana from the rest of the Cuban capital on which the march was scheduled to take place. The advocate maintains the two security agents “would not allow us to leave the block.”
“They told us that we could not go to the gathering,” said Fernández.
Fernández said he was unable to use his telephone until 12:30 p.m. because it had been disconnected.
A press release the Shui Tuix Foundation issued earlier this month said the march was to have begun at the Cuban Capitol at 10 a.m. The event was expected to continue to Havana’s oceanfront promenade known as the Malecón where participants were to have read a declaration of human rights within the context of the normalization of relations between the U.S. and Cuba that President Obama announced last December.
“The re-establishment of conversations between the governments of the United States and Cuba motivates us, in order to achieve a better democracy for our community and perhaps an improvement with respect to our rights on the part of the government of the Castros,” said the Shui Tuix Foundation in its press release that announced the Pride march.
Fernández said around 50 people had gathered in front of the Capitol before the march was scheduled to begin. The Washington Blade could not immediately confirm whether it took place.
Advocate critical of Mariela Castro
Fernández, 50, is a vocal critic of Mariela Castro Espín, daughter of Cuban President Raúl Castro who spearheads a number of LGBT-specific campaigns through the National Center for Sexual Education that she directs.
The National Center for Sexual Education, known by the Spanish acronym CENESEX, last month organized a series of events in Havana and the provincial capital of Las Tunas that commemorated the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington is scheduled to perform with a local gay chorus next month in the Cuban capital after Mariela Castro formally invited them to the Communist island.
Fernández last month during an interview with the Washington Blade at his Havana home mockingly described CENESEX as a “scientific institution” that conducts research.
“Their ‘fabulous’ idea initially has been the Day Against Homophobia and they later added the last name Transphobia to it,” he said. “It is 10 days of events, and what do they do in these 10 days? Scientific events?”
“The population does not receive this information,” added Fernández. “The population is not interested in these scientific events.”
Neither the Cuban Interests Section in Washington nor CENESEX responded to the Blade’s request for comment on Sunday.
A spokesperson for the U.S. Interests Section in Havana declined to comment on Fernández’s allegations. State Department spokesperson Mark Toner told the Blade during his daily press briefing on Monday that he was “not aware” of Fernández’s allegations.
“We believe LGBT persons should be allowed to march in peace and not be harassed,” said Toner.
“What happened in the morning did not surprise me,” Fernández told the Blade in a follow-up email on Sunday. “This is something that occurs all the time with members of civil society.”