The Trump administration on Thursday announced the daughter of former Cuban President Raúl Castro who spearheads LGBTI issues can no longer travel to the U.S.
of State Mike Pompeo in a statement said Section 7031(c) of the FY 2019
Department of State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs Appropriations Act
“provides that, in cases where the secretary of state has credible
information that foreign government officials have been involved in significant
corruption or a gross violation of human rights, those individuals and their
immediate family members are ineligible for entry into the United States.”
Pompeo said Raúl Castro is no longer eligible to receive a U.S. visa because of “his involvement in gross violations of human rights.” The restriction also applies to Mariela Castro and his three other children: Alejandro Castro, Déborah Castro and Nilsa Castro.
Raúl Castro as Cuba’s president in 2018. Raúl Castro remains the head of Cuba’s
Castro oversees a system that arbitrarily detains thousands of Cubans and
currently holds more than 100 political prisoners,” said Pompeo in his
“Castro is responsible for Cuba’s actions to prop up the former Maduro regime in Venezuela through violence, intimidation and repression,” he added. “In concert with Maduro’s military and intelligence officers, members of the Cuban security forces have been involved in gross human rights violations and abuses in Venezuela, including torture. Castro is complicit in undermining Venezuela’s democracy and triggering the hemisphere’s largest humanitarian crisis, forcing 15 percent of the Venezuelan population to flee the country and precipitating a food shortage and health crisis of unprecedented scale in this region.”
Castro is director of Cuba’s National Center for Sexual Education. The niece of
Fidel Castro, who came to power in the 1959 Cuban revolution, is also a member
of the country’s National Assembly.
Castro in 2013 traveled to Philadelphia in order to accept
an award from Equality Forum.
Mariela Castro in 2012 traveled to the U.S. with a group of Cuban scholars. Mariela Castro during that trip participated in a panel with National LGBTQ Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey and met with LGBTI activists in San Francisco.
Pompeo made his announcement three days after the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights held a hearing that highlighted the persecution of human rights activists and journalists in Cuba. Carlos Alejandro Rodríguez Martínez, editor of Tremenda Nota, the Washington Blade’s media partner on the Communist island, is among those who testified.
Valdés González, a Blade contributor from Cuba who suffered persecution because
he is a journalist, on Sept. 18 won
asylum in the U.S.
LGBTI activists who publicly criticize the Cuban government have told the Blade they regularly face harassment and the threat of arrest. They include Leodan Suárez Quiñones, a transgender activist from Pinar del Río province who said authorities detained her at Havana’s José Martí International Airport on Wednesday when she returned to the country from Jamaica where she participated in an event that focused on human rights and ecology.
Cuban government on Aug. 15 prevented Leandro Rodríguez García, director of the Cuban
Foundation for LGBTI Rights, an independent advocacy group, from traveling to
the U.S. in order to attend a months-long program at the Washington Center in
D.C. The Cuban government on May 8 prevented this reporter from entering
the country after his flight from the U.S. landed in Havana.
Castro’s group days earlier cancelled
its annual International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia
marches that were scheduled to take place in Havana on May 11 and the city of
Camagüey on May 17 respectively.
police on May 11 arrested
several people who participated in an unsanctioned LGBTI rights march in Havana.
Several independent LGBTI activists were detained in order to prevent them from
attending the event, and a number of participants were later taken into
Castro on her Facebook and Twitter pages has yet to publicly comment on