May 22, 2018 at 6:00 am EDT | by Michael K. Lavers

A woman takes part in a march to commemorate the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia in Havana on May 12, 2018. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

HAVANA — The organization that former Cuban President Raúl Castro’s daughter directs this month staged a series of events across the country in commemoration of the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia.

National Center for Sexual Education (CENESEX) Director Mariela Castro and transgender actress Daniela Vega are among the thousands of people who took part in a march in Havana’s Vedado neighborhood on May 12. Mariela Castro also participated in a similar march in the city of Pinar del Río on May 17 that drew thousands of people.

The Washington Blade was in Cuba from May 8-18.

LGBTI activists who work independently of Mariela Castro and CENESEX in Havana and in the provinces of Artemisa and Villa Clara are among those with whom the Blade spoke on the island.

The Cuban National Assembly last month selected Miguel Díaz-Canel — the former head of the Cuban Communist Party in Villa Clara Province who supported an LGBTI-friendly cultural center in the city of Santa Clara — to succeed Raúl Castro as the country’s president. The International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia events that CENESEX organized also took place less than a year after President Trump reinstated some of the travel and trade restrictions that former President Obama lifted in 2014 when he sought to normalize relations between the U.S. and Cuba.

A plane that Cubana, the country’s national airline, had chartered from a Mexican charter company crashed on Friday shortly after taking off from Havana’s José Martí International Airport while en route to the city of Holguín in eastern Cuba. The crash left 110 passengers and crew members dead.

Cuban media reported Gretell Landrove Font, one of the three women who survived the crash, passed away on Monday. Mailen Díaz and Emiley Sánchez remain in critical condition at a Havana hospital.

Havana IDAHOTB march participants

Blade reports from Havana IDAHOTB march

Revelers dance on fence during Havana IDAHOTB march

Electric violinist performs at LGBT-friendly Havana bar

IDAHOTB march in Santa Clara

Mariela Castro, CENESEX staffer appear on Cuban television

IDAHOTB march in Pinar del Río

Cabaret dancers at IDAHOTB party in Pinar del Río

Report from Havana airport after plane crash

Taxiing at Havana airport after plane crash

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

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