Reports from Cuba: Cenesex and the political police coordinate to block LGBTI march

14yMedio report from Havana via Translating Cuba:

Cenesex and the Political Police Coordinate to Block the LGBTI March

Members of the Metropolitan Community Church parade in La Conga against homophobia and transphobia.

A few hours after the National Center for Sexual Education (Cenesex), led by National Assembly deputy Mariela Castro, denounced that the independent march called for this Saturday in the Central Park of Havana had been organized from Miami, some activists have suffered harassment of the Political Police to prevent them from attending the march.

“A few minutes ago a [State] security agent called my phone without identifying himself, and in an aggressive voice repeated several times that I would be imprisoned if I continued with the call to march for LGBTI rights on May 11. He told me that I was being watched,” wrote Zekie Fuentes, an LGBTI rights activist and collaborator of Cubanet and Cibercuba, on his Facebook page.

“Once again, freedom of the press, expression and conscience is intimidated or at least, that’s what they are trying to do. Once again LGBTI rights remain in a dark tunnel that does not see the light,” Fuentes added.

The call for an independent demonstration by the LGBTI movement came after Cenesex canceled the traditional Conga against Homophobia citing “tensions in the international and regional context.”

In a note published on Thursday in Cenesex’s social networks, the organizing team of the Days Against Homophobia and Transphobia attributed the cancellation of the Conga to “the aggravation of aggression against Cuba and Venezuela.”

“Those who really want to defend the institution can close ranks with the Cenesex and the organizing committee of this twelfth edition, to ensure its successful development, and not join politically biased provocations or attacks,” writes Cenesex.

“Some opposing groups,” adds Cenesex, “use what happened with the conga as a weapon against our institution, and through it, against the State, the Government and the Party.”

“We exhort them, therefore, to make these Cuban Days against Homophobia and Transphobia a space for unity, in the defense of the Revolution and socialism, as the only social project that defends the true inclusion of all people,” concludes the text.

Independent journalist Maykel González Vivero was also threatened so that he would not attend the independent demonstration on Saturday. “Everything has a purpose, Maykel, but you do not see it that way. You’ll see what will happen on Saturday,” was the Twitter response to the call made by the LGBTI reporter and activist. This is not the first time that the Cuban State Security has used false profiles in social networks to frighten journalists and activists.

On Wednesday, the government denied entry to the country to Michael Lavers, a reporter for the oldest LGBTI+ newspaper in the United States, the Washington Blade, founded in the middle of the gay liberation movement, in 1969.

This is not the first time that the Cuban LGBTI community has called for an independent march. On May 28, 2015, a march for International Gay Pride Day was organized at the Prado in Havana, by organizations such as Puertas Abiertas (Open Doors), Shui Tuix, the Foundation for LGBTI Rights, Divina Esperanza (Divine Hope) and Arcoíris Libre de Cuba (Free Rainbow of Cuba).

Many of those who answered the call to march were not able to get there. At least five people were detained for 24 hours and several of the main organizers reported that a police patrol prevented them from leaving their homes under the threat that they would be arrested.

Four years earlier, in the same place and for the first time, the Cuban authorities tolerated the celebration of such an activity, outside the scope of Cenesex. That first LGBTI Pride Walk was organized by the Cuban Observatory of LGBT rights, a non-governmental organization. The event took place under heavy police surveillance, but without serious incidents.

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