Maykel González Vivero hosted a program on Radio Sagua that highlighted the history of Sagua la Grande, a small city that is roughly 165 miles east of Havana.
González, who is a member of Proyecto Arcoiris, an independent Cuban LGBT advocacy group, wrote on his Facebook page last week that Radio Sagua Director Carlos Orlando Manrique did not extend his contract because of his “collaborating with private media.” González said his last program aired on Sept. 3.
Activist challenged Cuban government in 2015 Blade interview
González began his blog Nictálope, a Spanish word that describes a person or an animal that can see better at night than during the day, in 2007. He has also contributed to Diario de Cuba and other independent Cuban websites that are critical of the Communist island’s government.
González in 2012 publicly criticized the removal of statistics from the Cuban census that noted the number of same-sex couples who live in the country. He wrote on Facebook that Radio Sagua punished him for “criticizing an event that the country had made a priority.”
González said Radio Sagua Director Carlos Orlando Manrique filed a complaint with Cuban officials in 2014 after he learned that he was planning to travel to Geneva.
González wrote on Facebook that members of the Cuban Communist Party told him he could declare himself a “counterrevolutionary.” He traveled to Switzerland twice and returned to work at Radio Sagua.
González wrote on Facebook that he is among the members of Cuban civil society who have met with Norwegian and Swedish officials. He attended an internet forum in Stockholm last year.
“The deputy director (of Radio Sagua) told me before I went to Scandinavia, ‘You will not come back,’ as though to insinuate that I would not return,” wrote González on his Facebook page.
González told the Washington Blade during an interview at his apartment in Sagua la Grande in May 2015 that he had faced harassment at Radio Sagua because of his independent LGBT advocacy. He said there are “risks” for criticizing Mariela Castro, the daughter of Cuban President Raúl Castro who champions LGBT-specific issues as the director of the Cuba’s National Center for Sexual Education, and other government officials and organizations.
“People quickly assume that you are a dangerous person because you are someone who asks questions,” González told the Blade. “As a result you find yourself in this zone where you are seen as a social pariah.”
González told the Blade on Wednesday during a telephone interview from Sagua la Grande that his LGBT activism “was very visible.”
He said “it doesn’t appear” as though his advocacy efforts or his public criticism of Mariela Castro factored into Radio Sagua’s decision to fire him. González told the Blade the Cuban government in recent months has targeted other journalists.
“I am not the only one affected,” he said.
The U.S. formally restored diplomatic relations with Cuba in 2015.
The State Department notes in its 2015 human rights report the Cuban government “does not recognize independent journalism.” It also indicates that officials on the Communist island detain independent journalists and subjects them to physical abuse and other forms of harassment.
The Committee to Protect Journalists describes Cuba as one of the “most censured” countries in the world.
Radio Sagua writes on its homepage that it reports “the truth about Cuba.”
Neither Radio Sagua nor the Cuban Embassy in D.C. returned the Blade’s requests for comment. Efforts to reach representatives of the Cuban government in Havana were unsuccessful.
González told the Blade that he plans to continue working with independent Cuban media outlets. He said he will also redouble his LGBT advocacy efforts.
“I would like to work with the press,” said González. “I would like to return to activism stronger.”