by Gary J. Isbell
Mariela Castro, the daughter of dictator Raúl Castro, was given a visa to come to the United States to speak out for “LGBT rights.” The irony of this fact is that she comes from a nation where there is no free speech and our State Department defended the decision to grant her a visa on the grounds of freedom of speech. In this case, it appears that speech is free as long as it is the correct version.
Indeed the past is full of examples were the State Department has denied visas to Cubans as part of its embargo on the island-prison which suffers under communism. There is no reason why Mariela, an ardent supporter of the repressive Castro regime should have received special treatment. In light of the strained relations with Cuba and the purpose of Mariel’s trip, another denial would have been most fitting.
The United States embargo first imposed a commercial, economic and financial embargo on Cuba in October of 1960, one year after Fidel Castro seized power. When Cuba nationalized the properties of American citizens and companies, the embargo was strengthened in February of 1962. It still stands as a strong protest against the horrific human rights record of the Castro brother dictatorship.
Granting a visa to Mariela is an evident violation of the spirit of the embargo. Curiously, it comes when Cuba continues to detain an ailing American citizen, 63-year-old Alan Gross, who worked for the U.S. Agency For International Development. His crime: facilitating freedom of speech by distributing computer and satellite phone equipment to members of the island-prison's Jewish community so they could communicate with family members. He languished in a Cuban jail for nearly 15 months with no formal charges levied against him. Then a Cuban court sentenced him to 15 years for bringing the gear onto the island “illegally” – even though it happened to be part of an official U.S. pro-democracy program.
The State Department has indicated that allowing Mariela to enter the country will bring Alan Gross’ plight to the negotiating table, as she has suggested that Gross be released in lieu of five convicted Cuban spies currently held in the U.S.
Upon arrival on American soil, Mariela wasted no time in exercising the very free speech that is denied her compatriots at home. She was also assigned a security detail to boot, paid for courtesy of the U.S. taxpayer.
The subject of her free speech was also quite selective. As a self described “sexologist” and high-ranking member of Cuba’s Communist Party, she lost no time in granting interviews with the media and as stated in The Examiner, “Castro praised Obama's recent statement expressing support for same-sex marriage in the United States.”
It comes as no surprise that the State Department has rolled out the red carpet for Mariela since it seems to be in line with its new policies. Simply bear in mind that only recently, “during [an] interview, [Raúl] Castro referred specifically to the $300,000 budgeted by the U.S. State Department in 2011 to, “strengthen the inclusion of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community’ on the island.’” It seems that our State Department and communist Cuba have much in common and Mariela has been a faithful mouthpiece to make that propaganda.
Perhaps Cuban-born writer Carlos Alberto Montaner, summed it up best in his syndicated column that, "Mariela is tolerant of sexual preferences and intolerant of all the rest." It seems free speech is fine as long as one turns left. The last thing we need is to have the likes of Mariela advocating that we imitate one of the many failed communist dictatorships such as Cuba.