Mariela Castro to Visit San Francisco
Anticipation over a multiday San Francisco visit by the niece of
Fidel Castro has thrust The City into U.S. presidential election
politics while stirring up some classic fears of communist infiltration.
Sexologist and gay rights activist Mariela Castro — the daughter of
Cuban President Raúl Castro — was granted an exception to strict
international travel restrictions by U.S. officials and obtained a visa
for her trip. She plans to participate in panels on LGBT issues in
health and culture at San Francisco General Hospital and the downtown
Marriott Marquis, where the Latin American Studies Association is
holding a conference.
Castro is not expected to grant interviews during her visit, but she
will also appear at the LGBT Center on Market Street tonight for a
discussion slated to include audience questions. And while Cuba hasn’t
always been known for its support of gay rights — with the 1959
communist revolution leading to persecution of homosexuals with
imprisonment and “re-education camps” — local LGBT leaders are pointing
to Mariela Castro as
someone who is helping to change the legacy her family helped establish.
“She has a unique position as the president’s daughter, and she has a
lot of influence in the country,” said Jeff Cotter, the executive
director of the San Francisco-based Rainbow World Fund. “That sends a
really fantastic message to everybody that it’s time for change.”