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Mariela Castro: Father is ‘supportive’ of pro-LGBT efforts

Cuban president’s daughter’s to lead IDAHOT marches

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Mariela Castro, daughter of Cuban President Raúl Castro and niece of former Cuban President Fidel Castro, takes part in a march to commemorate the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia in Havana on May 14, 2016. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

The daughter of Cuban President Raúl Castro says her father supports her efforts to spearhead LGBT-specific issues in the country.

“He understands,” Mariela Castro told Hatzel Vela, a Havana-based reporter for the South Florida television station WPLG. “He is supportive.”

Mariela Castro, who is director of Cuba’s National Center for Sexual Education that is known by the Spanish acronym CENESEX, spoke with Vela last week at her organization’s headquarters in Havana’s Vedado neighborhood. WPLG broadcast the interview on Monday night.

Same-sex marriage in Cuba will take ‘long time’

Mariela Castro became CENESEX’s director in 2007 after her mother, Vilma Espín, who was the president of the Cuban Federation of Women, passed away.

Transgender people have been able to obtain free sex-reassignment surgery under Cuba’s national health care system since 2008, although independent LGBT activists with whom the Washington Blade has spoken maintain only a few dozen people have been able to undergo the procedure. Mariela Castro, who is a member of the Cuban National Assembly, in 2013 voted against a proposal that banned discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation because it did not include gender identity.

CENESEX since 2007 has commemorated the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia — which is May 17 — in Havana and in other cities around the country. Mariela Castro spoke with WPLG less than a week before she is scheduled to speak at a press conference in the Cuban capital that will mark the beginning of this year’s series of events.

Mariela Castro told Vela she remembers the stares and “disapproval from people” that she saw in 2007 when she and a group of trans people walked around Havana to mark the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.

“I was scared,” she said.

Then-President Fidel Castro, who is Mariela Castro’s uncle, in the years after the 1959 Cuban revolution that brought him to power sent more than 25,000 gay men and others deemed unfit for military service to Military Units to Aid Production, which were labor camps known by the Spanish acronym UMAP. The Cuban government forcibly quarantined people with HIV/AIDS in state-run sanitaria until 1993.

Cuba repealed its sodomy law in 1979. Fidel Castro in 2010 apologized for the work camps during an interview with a Mexican newspaper.

Mariela Castro, who publicly supports marriage rights for same-sex couples, told reporters in March there is a “legislative package” that would extend rights to LGBT Cubans.

She said earlier that month during an appearance at a film festival in the Mexican city of Guadalajara the country does not “like to copy anyone” as she discussed why Cuba has yet to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples. Mariela Castro during the WPLG interview dismissed criticism from independent activists who say she has not done enough to publicly advocate for the issue.

“It is something that takes a long time,” she told Vela.

Critics of Cuba’s human rights record should ‘inform themselves’

CENESEX’s International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia events will take place less than six months after Fidel Castro’s death. They will also occur against the backdrop of continued criticism over Cuba’s human rights record.

Independent LGBT activists with whom the Blade regularly speaks maintain authorities harass and detain them because they publicly criticize Mariela Castro and her father’s government. Plainclothes officers and security officials on Monday detained a protester with an American flag as he briefly disrupted a May Day celebration in Havana’s Revolution Square.

The U.S. and Cuban in 2004 began the process of normalizing diplomatic relations.

“I want to respond politely,” Mariela Castro told Vela in response to his question about those who question her efforts to spearhead LGBT issues against the backdrop of Cuba’s human rights record. “They should inform themselves.”

“Get rid of your hate, prejudices and stereotypes,” she added, speaking directly to Cuban exiles in Miami who remain opposed to her father’s government and the normalization of relations between the U.S. and the Communist island.

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Mexico

U.S. Consulate warns Americans avoid travel to Tijuana as violence erupts

The U.S. Consulate General Tijuana: Officials are aware of reports of multiple vehicle fires, roadblocks, & heavy police activity in Tijuana

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Burning vehicle in Tijuana (Photo Credit: Screenshot Twitter video)

TIJUANA, Baja California, Mexico – The U.S. Consulate General Tijuana issued an alert to American citizens after threats and two days of violence by a regional drug cartel in this popular tourist destination south of San Diego. Officials also warned its personnel to shelter in place.

In a message the U.S. Consulate General Tijuana wrote that officials are aware of reports of multiple vehicle fires, roadblocks, and heavy police activity in Tijuana, Mexicali, Rosarito, Ensenada, and Tecate. U.S. government employees have been instructed to shelter in place until further notice.

Baja California Governor Marina del Pilar Avila Olmeda tweeted: “We will apply all the strength of our government so that there is peace and we find those responsible for these attacks.”

Media outlets in San Diego and Baja California are reporting that the violence started Thursday in a Ciudad Juarez prison after the Sinaloa Cartel, once led by the infamous Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, and a local group, Los Mexicles, began feuding. The riot left two dead and 16 injured before breaking out into the streets. At that time a shelter in place order was issued.

That violence has now spread to other parts of the country including Tecate, Tijuana, Playas de Rosarito, Mexicali, and Ensenada in Baja California.

On Friday, cartel soldiers set multiple vehicles on fire, set up multiple road blockades and engaged in shootouts with Mexican security forces. Residents of Tecate, Tijuana, Playas de Rosarito, Mexicali, and Ensenada are sharing videos of burnt vehicles in the street on various social media platforms.

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Ventura County

Chair of Ventura County Board of Supervisors killed in traffic accident

“Her kindness, love and deep compassion for the community was felt by everyone. She will be dearly missed”

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Chair of the Ventura County Board of Supervisors, Carmen Ramirez. (Photo Credit: County of Ventura, Calif.)

OXNARD, Ca. – The beloved chair of the Ventura County Board of Supervisors Carmen Ramirez was killed in a traffic accident in Oxnard Friday the Ventura County Star newspaper reported.

Ramirez, 73, had first served on the Oxnard City Council and then in November 2020, she became the first Latina in the county’s history to be elected supervisor. She achieved another first the Star reported when her fellow board members elected her as chairwoman of the powerful board becoming the first Latina to hold that position.

According to the Star, the crash occurred about 6:45 p.m. at Seventh and A streets in Oxnard. Oxnard Police Chief Jason Benites said the driver of the vehicle remained at the scene and was cooperative.

Ramirez was transported to Ventura County Medical Center in Ventura where she was pronounced dead at 7:17 p.m., the chief said.

The initial investigation determined that a large truck, driven by a 38-year-old man, was traveling westbound on Seventh Street toward A Street. Ramirez, who was reported to be crossing the intersection within the pedestrian crosswalk, was struck by the vehicle.  

In her official bio on her 2020 campaign website it noted that she grew up in the San Gabriel Valley with six siblings and worked in Ventura County since 1978. The county’s website states she served on the Oxnard City Council for 10 years.

Prior to being elected to the council in 2010, she worked as a longtime legal aid attorney serving low-income communities in Ventura County, her bio read.

“I offer my sincere condolences to her husband, Roy Prince, and her family,” said Oxnard Mayor John Zaragoza in a statement released Saturday. “We will miss Carmen tremendously. We worked together often, while I was serving as Supervisor and she was Oxnard’s Mayor Pro Tem, and this camaraderie continued when she was elected Supervisor and I served as Mayor. She was passionate about environmental justice and creating a better future for our City. Her kindness, love and deep compassion for the community was felt by everyone. She will be dearly missed.”

Interim County Executive Officer Sevet Johnson described Ramirez as “passionate” and “hard working,” calling her a huge advocate on climate issues as well as on behalf of her community and underserved populations.

“She was a powerhouse,” Johnson said.

“We were all blessed to have known her, blessed to have been her friend,” Supervisor Linda Parks said.

The LGBTQ community in Oxnard expressed its grief and condolences in a Facebook post writing:

“We, The city of Oxnard, and all of the people you have shined your light on are deeply saddened and in mourning from your loss. OxnardLGBTQ did not get the pleasure of knowing you, or work with you more thank we hoped for, but we knew you were a powerhouse, and major advocate for La Raza and our Queer community. You will be remembered by so many for all that you did and your legacy. Our sincere condolences to all of your family, friends and close acquainted. You will be truly missed. Descansa en paz Carmen Ramírez 🕊✊🏽❤️🌈

The City of Oxnard Police tweeted that a candlelight vigil will be held at Plaza Park in Oxnard in honor of Ramirez at 7 p.m.

Ramirez is survived by her husband, Roy Prince. She was predeceased by her brother Ricardo Ramirez.

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Long Beach

Long Beach Police need public’s help locating sexual assault suspect

Suspect described as a male White or Hispanic approximately 18-25 years old, between 5’10” to 5’11” in height, with a thin build, short hair

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Photo Credit: City of Long Beach Police Department/Facebook


LONG BEACH – (Press Release) The Long Beach Police Department is seeking the public’s help locating a male suspect involved in a sexual battery incident involving a minor.

On July 31, 2022, at approximately 1:30 p.m., officers responded to the 1100 block of East 4th Street regarding a sexual battery incident that had just occurred.

Upon arrival, officers learned the suspect initially followed the victim for several blocks. While following the victim, the suspect propositioned him and then grabbed his lower body. An altercation ensued, which resulted in the suspect striking the victim in the upper body before fleeing.

Detectives are releasing a photograph of the suspect from surveillance footage and video from the incident. The Long Beach Police Department requests information about this incident and/or the suspect’s identity.

The suspect is described as a male White or Hispanic (light complexion), approximately 18-25 years old, between 5’10” to 5’11” in height, with a thin build, short medium-length hair in a “comb over” style, and a light-colored mustache. The suspect wore a blue Dodgers T-shirt, light-colored pants, and black sandals. The suspect may have attended a party in the area before the assault.

Courtesy LBPD

To view a video of the suspect, click on the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r-BbUCC7Lfk            

Anyone with information regarding the person responsible for these crimes should contact Sex Crimes Detective Monica Moore at (562) 570-5514 or Detective William Neal at (562) 570-5513.

Anonymous tips may be submitted through “LA Crime Stoppers” by calling 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), downloading the “P3 Tips” app to your smartphone (available at the Apple App store and Google Play), or visiting www.lacrimestoppers.org.

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