February 25, 2016 at 12:16 pm EST | by Michael K. Lavers
Bowser gives Nationals jersey to Mariela Castro

Muriel Bowser, Mariela Castro, gay news, Washington Blade

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser presents CENESEX Director Mariela Castro with a Nationals jersey. (Photo courtesy Twitter)

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser on Monday presented a Washington Nationals jersey to the daughter of Cuban President Raúl Castro.

Mariela Castro, who directs Cuba’s National Center for Sexual Education that is known by the Spanish acronym CENESEX, met with Bowser at her organization’s headquarters in Havana’s Vedado neighborhood.

A press release that D.C. officials released earlier this week said that Mariela Castro, who promotes LGBT-specific issues on the Communist island, “led” Bowser “on a tour of” CENESEX. The organization on its website said that Bowser praised it for “it’s commitment to equity and to the fight to eliminate homophobia and transphobia in Cuba and the world.”

Bowser, along with D.C. Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson and others, were among the local officials who traveled to Cuba on Saturday as part of a Greater Washington Hispanic Chamber of Commerce delegation.

The Obama administration in Dec. 2014 announced the U.S. would restore diplomatic relations with Cuba that ended in 1961. Critics contend the Castro government’s human rights record has not improved despite the closer ties between it and the White House.

“I am offended that Mariela Castro continues receiving visits from U.S. officials,” Nelson Gandulla Díaz, president of the Cuban Foundation for LGBTI Rights, an independent advocacy group, told the Washington Blade on Wednesday in an email from the Cuban city of Cienfuegos.

Gandulla in his email noted that Mariela Castro has not responded to questions about their campaign in support of marriage rights for same-sex couples. He said that the Cuban president’s daughter has also refused to speak “about the Cuban LGBTI community’s problems.”

Nelson Gandulla Díaz, Cuba, gay news, Washington Blade, Cuban Foundation for LGBTI Rights

Nelson Gandulla Díaz, president of the Cuban Foundation for LGBTI Rights, stands outside his home in Cienfuegos, Cuba, on May 15, 2015. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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