Castro apologizes for sending Gays to camps
 

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posted Friday, September 3, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 36

Castro apologizes for sending Gays to camps
by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Cuba's Fidel Castro told the Mexican newspaper La Jornada that it was wrong for the Cuban government to fire Gays from state jobs, imprison them, and send them to work camps in the countryside in the 1960s and early 1970s.

'Those were moments of great injustice, great injustice!' Castro said in an interview published August 30.

"Yes, we did it, us," Castro told La Jornada. "I am trying to limit my responsibility in all this because, of course, I personally do not hold those kinds of prejudices," he added.

But when pressed by the La Jornada reporter to say whether the Communist Party or some other entity was responsible for what occurred, Castro said, "No. If any person was responsible, it's me."

He said he had been too busy coping with events such as the 1962 Cuban missile crisis to stop what occurred.

"We had so many and such terrible problems, problems of life or death, that we didn't pay it enough attention," Castro said.

Government media campaigns now discourage homophobia and the state has even paid for a few sex-reassignment operations for Transsexuals.

Castro took power in January 1959 after a victorious guerilla war. He remained in power till he retired due to illness in February 2008. He was succeeded by his younger brother, Raul Castro. Fidel's niece and Raul's daughter, Mariela, is Cuba's leading Gay rights advocate.

Castro's comments to La Jornada elaborated on past acknowledgments of his government's mistreatment of Gays.

Between 2003 and 2005, Castro gave a series of interviews to the French journalist Ignacio Ramonet, in which he said, "I'd like to think that discrimination against homosexuals is a problem that is being overcome. & Old prejudices and narrow-mindedness will increasingly be things of the past."

Castro nearly died during emergency intestinal surgery in July 2006 and disappeared from public view for four years. The cause of his illness has never been disclosed.

In recent months he has made a series of public appearances, including a photo op on August 30 with U.S. journalists Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic and Julia Sweig from the Council on Foreign Relations.



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