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8/1/1973 - Report from a Cuban Prison XIV: Homosexuality in Cuba by Frank J. McDonald

INSI I I U IE OF CURRENT WORLD AFFAIRS NEW YORK FJM REPORT FROM A C PRISON XIV AUGUST HOMOSEXUALITY IN I watched lanuel begin question defendant Gentle polite tried educate intimidate those before Is there reason should removed jurisdiction The defendant Eduardo shook No Do lawyer Again No Do plead guilty guilty charges brought against The young years wearing glasses workshirt seemed scrutinizing though tears forming embarrassment crowd There several hundred people neighbor attendance Finally straightening shoulders Eduardo looked three Jonas right Alonso iiouel center barely audible voice began iguel I tried corrupt neighborhood Nor I dressed women clothing laruage I broken created scandal It however I homosexual anuel leaned whisper Jonas something Alonso addressed defendant Are registered inlstry Labor possession Yes I I working present Are member neighborhood Committee Defense Revolution Yes And I voluntary Commit tried Army I rejected because homosexual Manuel asked questions about defendant family requested brought other judges retired Judge chambers little store corner roped street This People Court estab ished throughout Cuba Unlike Revolutionary Tribunals lilitary Courts People Courts cases involving offenses cannot punished months deprivation freedom Deprivation freedom judicial defines applied follows Either confinement rehabilitation without confinement In latter prisoner allowed leave medical attention school groceries there shopping Other penalties include public reprimand enforced schooling instancesa prohibition against visiting places where defendanthas committed social The common penalty however public admonition With neighbors present embarrassment being brought before People Court reprimanded public enough lesson itself The People Courts began experiment discussion University Havana students professors Fidel Castro proposed establish popular court discipline would people It experimental until system implemented nationally In People Court there always three judges elected popular assemblies local level Every individual nominated judge Isle Pines least sixth grade education respected considered moral example community integrated Revolutionary process The elections place Local Committee Defense Revolution headquarters where nominations accepted publicly Usually evening slate contain names The candidates attend classes taking examinations aptitude Later People Court Com mission together local party selects judges among proposed candidates No offered these since honor People Judge A Judge continue working regular The particular court I attended central Havana Avenida Tnfante Promptly every Wednesday evening assuming there apagon electricity blackout chief judge anual Domioguez called first Each court session street string lights building building provide sufficient illumination The people neighborhood chairs benches brought their apartments Usually I stood crowd noticeable A stranger conspicuous everyone neighborhood other Once I gotten anuel however practice mention there North American watching ceedings There would murmur crowd nudges pointing direction smiles anuel would little speech saying important people demonstrate North American justice conducted their neighborhood would sessions continue Eduardo particularly interesting because first I homosexual brought before 6ourt defendant morals charge Eduardo obviously object great interest neighborhood because every place street occupied Traditionally Cubans always scorned maricon homosexual attitude fostered their Latin culture machismo Roman Catholicism Since Revolu however great pressure brought against those overtly homosexual Revolutionary Government decided social homosexual Friends members Party explained Revolu could depend homosexual efend Revolu since maricon couldn trusted fight defense Homosexuality pointed aberra result moral corruption engendred capitalist societies In campaign repress homosexuality Revolution established special UAP camps rilitary Units Aid Production Set experiment longer exist because Fidel ordered closed after UAP indicate serious members Government about stamping homosexuality That every unemployed homosexual hippie lumpen vagabond loiterer picked National Police interned camps assigned agricultural labor An official description camps published Granma April sanitized version really inside U AP ilitary Units Aid Production Just letters embody vital context unknown country abroad Every young should accept military service honourable modest contribution defense country In beginning military service drafted young young recruited though studying working members military units ilitia Rebel Army There still remained group malad justed youths drifters neither worked studied What could The question serious leaders Revolution One group officers General Staff Headquarters talked these problems They spoke Fidel shared their preoccupation proposed creation UAP The principal objective organization impose punishment rather educate these young Its fundamental mission alter attitudes these youths educate becoming parasites incapable ducing something useful counterevolutionary criminals common delinquents useless society NOT A PENAL INSTITUTION The fundamental U P educate those young themselves evade educational They study technological schools institution attend secondary institutions belong military units They beyond reach It precisely organization which might educate organization which might society Ernesto Casillas named UAP Casillas member Central Committee Party former combatant Sierra aestra strong Frank Pais Second Front He human qualities which served since founding UAP UMAP penal institution There young enter service looked disrespect contrary received Military discipline vails units M sought overcoming certain attitudes learn become useful members society When first rather difficult groups arrived handle officers neither necessary patience experience required frequently their tempers These summoned before military council following which demoted others discharged Armed Forces There strong dlsclpllne UMAP units treatment their superiors requisite OFFICERS SET THE EXAMPLE The officers along youths their production tasks They endure difficulties suffer needs At present units UMAP incorporated cutting loading sugar When young putting forth effort reproached officer The officer imply begins alongside youth This srong moral effect There really antagonistic create problems troublemakers But those charge possess great eduanlmlty handle They their superior someone example everything friend someone frank confide problem difficulty There those Join SMO Compulsory Military Service because belonged religious unfortunately those sects counter revolution The Revolution hostile towards considers enemy anyone religious Unfortunately reaction imperialism these institutions their counterrevolu tionary campaign The taught agriculture combat prepara milltry etiquette VISITS ONCE A MONTH The first Sunday month visiting Peri odically given leave There encouraging which consists giving additional those their faultlessly fulfill norms conduct records leave The receive night classes eneral subjects revolutionary nstruction Durin daytime productive They practice sports After lunch dinner relax Almost young UMAP undergone remarkable change When complete Military Servlce return society prepared The idyllic atmosphere Granma reported exactly whole story As artlst Wh6 interned UMAP explained It terrible experience there The camps supposed educate actually problems worse Can imagine throwing hundreds homosexuals together dehumanizing atmosphere There suicides mental breakdowns It finally Revolution close camps Afterward selective approach taken They quietly purged homosexuals positions responsibility pecially university Ministries For example I least dozen professors asked leave University Havana handful low2r echelon ficlals Ministry Foreign Affairs requested This justified because Revolution could leave sensitive responsibilities hands those whose loyalty weakened their immoral By April official though openly declared position regarding homosexuality formally expressed official policy Report drafted Congress Education Culture IThe Rep_0rt result hundreds meetings discus sions prior holding Conference itself Partici pants numbering thousands drawn level Cuba educational system erganlza tions Thus policies contained report ratified leadership Revolution firmly supported majority Cuban educators labor union leaders members Mass zations Two sections eport_are presented The first deals Fashion customs Extravagant Be havlor second entltled Concerning Sex presents Revolutlon official statement homosexuality FASHIONS CUSTOMS AND EXTRAVAGANT BEHAVIOR The consensus fundamental aspect taken consideration evaluating young person relation Revolution social titude participation collective effort toward revolutionary transformation society Fashions customs thoroughly examined sociological ideological political viewpoint The opinion although forms extravagant behavior exhibitionism should constitute focus attention Revolution since limited minority generally msrglnal groups necessity maintaining monolithic ideological unity people struggle against forms deviation among young imperstive implement series measures their eradication Fashion examined social aspect attire natural evolution development fashion guidelines specialized state agencies A distinction established between foregoing extravagances cases spring indiscriminate assimilation fashions displayed foreign groups others counterrevolutionary attitude mlnigroups means identification among themselves protest against Revolution In cases decided direct confrontation elimination necessary Attention called extravagant groups abroad their rotten bourgeois society where although necessarily expression revolutionary position rather escape alienating effect society nevertheless contain Such antagonism against capitalist system cannot serve either example stimulus youth possibility fulfillment building communism The following conclusions drawn debate The Revolution should account social phenomenon fashion within framework economic vironmental ideological characteristics In studying phenomenon fashion customs extravagant behavior reaffirm maintalnln monolithic ideological unity people battle against deviation among youth We necessary direct action Inate extravagan aberrations The Revolution promote policy consistent fashion which positive action neutralize influx fashion trends origlnatln highly developed capital countries where their economic business ideological taken account accept trends indiscriminately become factor cultural dependency In influence certain fashions considered represent manifestation rebellion youth campaign should undertaken explain origin development assimilation phenomenon exporta decadent societies which deforming commercializing final attempt cultural colonializa CONCERNING SEX A review transformation taken place matter sexual relations existed prerevolutlonary society relations dependent system exploitati profound social inequality violence brought about prostitution various commercialization sequeI aberrat At present structural transformation devel opment society definitively eradicated these manifestations typical exploiting system every revolutionary process change brought about contradictions which demand constant effort creative renovation behavior social habits ideas Emphasis placed respect feelings opinions young their points posslb1i holding discus sions nurture concept means constitution human couple motives should unite merely biologlcal viewpoint human fulfillment which includes admiration esteem based biological aesthetic fundamentally soclal political moral values The social pathological character homosexual devia tions recognized It resolved manifestations homosexual deviations firmly rejected prevented spreading It pointed however study investigation analysis complex problem should always determine measures adopted It decided homosexuality should sidered central problem fundamental society attention solution necessary A study origin evolution phenomenon present scope social acter An depth analysis preventive educational measures implemented curative measures effect against existing focuses including control relocation isolated cases always educational preventive purpose It differentiate between various cases their stages deterioration necessarily different approaches different cases degrees deterioration On basis these considerations resolved would convenient adopt following measures Extension coeducational system recognition importance formation children young Appropriate sexual education parents teachers pupils This treated special subject falling general teaching syllabus biology physiology Stimulation proper approach A campaign information should effect among adoles cents young people which would contribute acqui scientific knowledge eradication prejudices doubts which cases result placing importance It resolved tolerated notorious homose xuals influence formation youth basis their artistic merits Consequently study called determine tackle problems presence homosexuals various stltutlons cultural sector It proposed study should applying measures transferring other organizations those homosexuals should direct influence youth through artistic cultural activities It resolved those whose morals respond prestige Revolution should barred group performers representing country abroad An incident involving Venceremos brigade exempli attitude Cubans regarding homosexuality A friend teaching School Letters scheduled meeting between students members Brigade A repre sentative faction within Brigade B lacks Chicanos Women Liberation S D Co Ga Liberatlon asked speak about organizations represented Each Ameri stood spoke politely applauded until speaker member G LoF explained organization represented There shock silence eyebrows lifted meeting broke embarrassed After teaching colleague Director English Department should never bring other Gay Liberation spokesmen University The message passed along Brigade leadership To contact interview homosexuals Cuba difficult although through Lisa actress Havana theater groups I actor talked about problems He hopeful about change although considered himself Revolutionary I theater I comedian enjoy making people laugh I perform militia share volunteer everyone But I I never Joln Party become Director I closet homosexual If I carry acting though enough The problem straight Cubans associate homosexuality weakness corruption The Revolution promoted image virility aggressiveness We We associated street corners transvestites corruption dominated Havana night To purge ridding Cuba vestiges aonnected prostitution gambling drugs To marlcon identified Batsta Eevolutionary Cuba trash underworld Lisa friend though homosexual represents group Establlshment figures continue mainly because known achieved recogntlon Homosexuals prominent artists musicians directors still given opportunity travel foreign countries though officially forbidden Another contradiction between Cuba homosexual painter rostrum General Assembly National Congress Education Culture while RePOrt homosexuality gates Nevertheless implementation Rep_0rt ticularly section homosexuality taken For example months after publication Congress Rep_ort theater directors replaced because Were known homosexuals For homosexuals position protect however situation different They confront society government exerting tremendous conform As result younger homosexuals totally alienated Revolutionary process According Lisa friend knows situation change pessimistic The differentiates older established types openness their homosexuality The younger people refuse remain closeted expulsion school Jobs public embarrassment before large assemblies their peers For instance I cases where letters betwesn homosexuals public These young people bitter They ridicule verdes olive greens soldiers Generally retreat living constant being rounded photographed camps where their shorn You imagine There future Cuba Indeed about thing worse being Nixon Cuba press always spelled swstlka Granma gusano Cuban expression exiles Wh0ieave Cuba Miami marlcon__ Every there story about criminal engaged black marketing murder homosexual always appear The press every opportunity ridicule homosexuality capitalist societies For Granma story about legalization homosexual relationships Sweden indicates obvious corruption capitalist society Or story homosexuals marrying California crrled cartoon beards dressed wedding gowns Given envlronment I amazed Manuel handling Eduardo When judges returned I expected defendant given tough lecture tougher sentence Instead Manuel called quiet began question Eduardo about attitude toward Revolution Had really wanted Army How often volun countryside What circumstances under which Then Manuel speech I believe young capable being citizen Cuban Revolutionary Not sound crowd Furthermore attention Eduardo being harassed neighborhood Does anyone thing about A moments silence passed woman crowd spoke She worked clerk Hotel Naclonal Crossing Bench microphone nervous voice explained unusual speak publicly people should understanding Eduardo situation Yes neighborhood called names mocked shouted obscenities He other nothing deserve treatment On contrary argued tried integrate himself society problem prevented doing As resident neighbor called parents instruct their children tolerance understanding When micropho crowd erupted applause Eduardo stayed seated lowered Another black woman She stood microphone announced people ignorant about homosexuality sickness needed medical attention She recommended court arrange counseling Eduardo The crowd murmured llttle children among benches I asked those around thought Every seemed enlightened hostile homosexuality would thought readg document reported National Congress Education Culture Understandably enough women seemed sympthetlc Finally Manuel colleagues announce their findings The crowd hushed Eduardo asked stand before Bench We listened tonight Manuel We believe guilty corrupting young people neigh borhood We think Revolution should offer Judgment therefore return Court receive doctor provide counsel We shall arrange schedule appointments That agree A small smile Then Your dlsmlssed Eduardo turned crowd walked street without looking Received New York September A People Court session