After the Cuban State called off officially sanctioned PRIDE celebrations, people began to self-organize their own events. In response, the Cuban state has arrested two anarchist and LGBT activists, calling them “counter-revolutionaries” and funded by the US State Department, reports Black Rose Anarchist Federation.
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Havana, Cuba – Following tensions around the cancellation of the state sponsored LGBT march and the effort by activists to call for an independently organized one, two anarchist and LGBT activists, Isbel Diaz Torres and partner Jimmy Roque Martinez, are believed to have been detained by Cuban authorities. The detentions are seen as an attempt by the Cuban state to suppress and intimidate outspoken activists whom they see as leaders and vocal activists in the LGBT community in Cuba.
Today Cubans held an unprecedented gay pride parade in Havana independently of state institutions and despite the govt warning it was a “provocation”. #LGBT activists only managed to do part of the planned itinerary before police stopped them going further and arrested several. pic.twitter.com/wKLKipVOjn
— Sarah Marsh (@reuterssarah) May 11, 2019
The following transcribed statement was provided to us by Black Rose/Rosa Negra members currently in Cuba attending the Jornada Primavera Libertaria conference hosted by Cuban anarchists affiliated with the Taller Libertario Alfredo Lopez and Centro Social y Biblioteca Libertaria ABRA (or ABRA Social Center and Library) in Havana, Cuba. See below for further context and details.
My name is Mario. I’m making a statement to inform of the possible detention by the Havana police of Isbel Torres and Jimmy Roque, activists from the Taller Libertario Alfredo Lopez, El Guardabosques, and LGBT issues. Everything indicates that they were detained in the morning on their way to Vedado [neighborhood] for the last activity of the Jornada Primavera Libertaria. They called at 8am saying they were ready to head out and it’s now close to 1pm and they haven’t appeared and their phone is blocked. It’s probable that they arrested them for their connections to the march against homophobia that’s happening today, which was prohibited by the Cuban state, and which various people have promoted, including Isbel and Jimmy. In their desire to deny reality they have evidently arrested Isbel and Jimmy. We want to denounce this and call attention to this, particularly the police apparatus that continues intact here, and we want people to know about this act so that our comrades are not isolated.
– Translated audio statement from a member of Taller Libertario Alfredo Lopez
Context and Background
Earlier this week the state run National Center for Sex Education (CENESEX) which sponsors the Conga Against Homophobia and Transphobia announced that the 12th annual march was called off due to “new tensions in the international and regional context,” and would be canceled “in compliance with the policy of the Party, the State and the Revolution.”
LGBTQ rights activists have been arrested in Cuba during an unauthorized pride march in Havana.
The pride march had initially been cancelled by authorities, but organizers decided to go ahead with the event. pic.twitter.com/BSIz6OkeqJ
— AJ+ (@ajplus) May 12, 2019
CENESEX, which is headed by Mariela Castro, the daughter of Cuban Communist Party leader Raul Castro, has spearheaded a number of progressive policies around gay rights which has been a positive turn from the countries past when gay and lesbians were persecuted and faced imprisonment or being sent to work camps. But in last years debate around reforms of the constitution, proposals to include gay marriage were shelved to be decided by later referendum after active pressure from evangelical religious groups.
On Friday, May 3rd Torres received an interview summons by the National Revolutionary Police where authorities attempted to pressure him to not participate or publicly support for calls being made to hold an non-state sanctioned march. He was also accused of being “counter-revolutionary.”
National Revolutionary Police summons for Isbel Diaz Torres.
The day prior to detention a pro-government website published a hit piece attacking the efforts calling for a non-state sanctioned LGT rally and smearing them as orchestrated and manipulated by US backed forces. The piece named Torres, calling him a “counter-revolutionary,” and falsely framed him as receiving funding by the U.S. State Department.
Nonetheless, a non-sanctioned LGBT rally took place earlier in Havana but ended with several arrests. Further details are forthcoming.
We demand the immediate release of our comrades, Isbel and Jimmy!
Images from the Taller Libertario Alfredo Lopez Facebook Page.
To support the work of Taller Libertario Alfredo Lopez members of Black Rose/Rosa Negra in Miami are hosting a fundraiser towards the Jornada Primavera Libertaria conference.
For further information on anarchist perspectives on Cuba we recommend “To my compañerxs on the Left – A Reaction to the Death of Fidel” and “Cuba and the Demonization of Anarchists: A Lesson for Our Times.”