BOGOTÁ, Colombia — A Cuban lawmaker on Saturday suggested independent activists were “paid” to organize an unsanctioned LGBTI march that took place in Havana last week.
“It’s not only religious groups, but also these so-called activists are often times paid to hold this type of event,” said Luis Ángel Adán Roble in response to questions from the Washington Blade during a panel at an LGBTQ Victory Institute conference that is taking place in the Colombian capital of Bogotá. “I am not saying that everyone who went to it were paid or anything.”
The National Center for Sexual Education, a group directed by Mariela Castro, the daughter of former Cuban President Raúl Castro, was to have held a march in Havana on May 11 in commemoration of the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia.
CENESEX on May 6 announced the cancellation of the Havana march and another in the city of Camagüey that was to have taken place on Friday. Independent LGBTI activists sharply criticized the decision and announced the unsanctioned march in Havana.
State security officials in the days leading up to the unsanctioned march told independent activists not to attend it. They also prevented some of them from leaving their homes in order to attend it and other unsanctioned IDAHOBiT marches that were scheduled to take place elsewhere in the country.
Juana Mora Cedeño and Isbel Díaz Torres were among the independent activists who were detained before the Havana march that Adán said “was not authorized.”
“Like for any march in any country in the world, you have to have authorization,” he told the Blade.
Maykel González Vivero, publisher of Tremenda Nota, the Blade’s media partner in Cuba, and other independent journalists on the island, along with reporters from international news agencies, reported several people who participated in the march were arrested. Pictures and videos that were posted to social media show men in civilian clothing manhandling some of the detained protesters before they were placed into cars.
Adán told the Blade that four people were detained after he said they attacked a police officer. He also criticized independent journalists for “only showing one picture, but not showing videos of these supposed detentions.”
Mariela Castro, with whom Adán is closely aligned, continues to insist without proof that opponents of the Cuban government in Miami and elsewhere organized the unsanctioned march. Adán told the Blade he did not know about the detentions of three independent LGBTI activists — Roberto Ramos Mori, Leodán Suárez Quiñones and Yasmany Sánchez — in the days after the event.
“I don’t know anything about it because I have been in Colombia since Thursday,” said Adán.
Cleve Jones, a San Francisco-based activist, was to have been the grand marshal of the CENESEX-organized IDAHOBiT march in Havana.
CENESEX on May 10 honored Jones at a gala that took place at Havana’s Karl Marx Theater. Jones the following day attended a party with Mariela Castro that began at the same time as the unsanctioned march.
Adán told the Blade a “new way to” commemorate IDAHOBiT in Cuba “took place.” Jones and Rainbow World Fund Executive Director Jeff Cotter in a statement they released on May 14 said they are “dismayed” by the arrests that took place at the unsanctioned Havana march.
Blade reporter blocked from entering Cuba on May 8
CENESEX announced the cancellation of its IDAHOBiT marches against the backdrop of increased tensions between the U.S. and Cuba over its continued support of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and an economic crisis that has prompted food rationing, fuel shortages and blackouts on the Communist island. The unsanctioned march in Havana took place three days after the Cuban government prevented this reporter from entering the country.
My questions (in Spanish) to Cuban Assemblyman Luis Ángel Adán Roble about the arrests at the May 11 unsanctioned #LGBTI march in Havana and the arrests of three independent LGBTI activists in recent days @WashBlade @LosAngelesBlade pic.twitter.com/3u1aUJQkD2
— Michael K. Lavers (@mklavers81) May 18, 2019