Invited by the political left and LGBT associations, Mariela Castro Espín arrived in Italy for a speaking tour that started in Milan and Genoa and continued to other major cities. Castro Espín spoke about human rights in Cuba. Her presence among us raised a wave of criticism, even in Rome’s Montecitorio Palace, where the Chamber of Deputies meets. Thus, let’s introduce the character who is the target of the attack.
Mariela Castro Espín is the daughter of Raúl Castro, the niece of Fidel Castro and a leading member of the clan that has brutally oppressed Cuba for more than half a century. Her brother, Alejandro Castro, heads the Council of Defense and National Security. The site of the Cuban Defense Ministry defines the work of this Council as taking care of “the coordinated action of all the forces and resources of society and the state, carried out under the direction of the Communist Party of Cuba, to deal with external military aggression and to prevent internal subversion.”1 In other words, this entity organizes the total repression of society under Cuban communism. It is the tropical version of the KGB.
On the other hand, Mariela represents a very unique version of Castroism. She is a member of the National Assembly of Popular Power (the Cuban Parliament dominated by the Communist Party). She is also the president of the National Center for Sexual Education, the National Commission for Integral Attention to Transgender People, and the editor of the magazine Sexology and Society, dedicated to sexual liberation. Castro Espín is a champion of LGBT “rights,” a symbol of the fight against gender discrimination and “homo-lesbo-transphobia.”
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Castro Espín’s visit to Italy naturally aroused much criticism, especially from the conservative media. They rightly observe that talking about human rights in Cuba is an oxymoron, a contradiction in terms. It’s like inviting Mafia boss Messina Denaro to talk about legality. Indeed, the Cuban regime has one of the worst human rights records in the world, rivaled only by North Korea and some radical Muslim countries. There are 1,057 political prisoners in Cuba, although the actual number may be much higher.
Critics note that Castro Espín’s tour was a propaganda tool for Cuban communism. The tour also revealed a flagrant contradiction. Cuba is known for its persecution of homosexuality and other moral deviations typical of “Western decadence.”
Until recently, Cuban homosexuals and any long-haired hippy types (“cabelludos”) were sent to concentration camps. At the time of Che Guevara, people ended up in concentration camps just for listening to rock ‘n roll, wearing jeans or using Anglo-Saxon words. Even today, LGBT activism is barely tolerated, if not hunted down. How can Castro Espín come to Italy to pontificate about human rights and sexual liberation in Cuba?
When pointing out this contradiction, critics spoke of deception, blatant political maneuvering and even dishonesty.
Indeed, there was deception and leftist political maneuvering of the left in Castro Espín’s tour. However, the problem is more profound. It involves the internal dialectic of communism.
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According to the well-known classification by Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, communism is the third stage of the Revolution, that is, a process of decadence which, since the fall of the Middle Ages, has been pushing the world away from Christian civilization. Two notions express the spirit of this Revolution: absolute equality and complete freedom. Both seem and indeed are somewhat contradictory from some points of view. However, they are reconciled in the communist utopia of an anarchist paradise, the final result of the revolutionary process. According to Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira’s classification, this transformation into anarchy would be a Fourth Revolution aimed at “liberating” not the proletarians but the instincts of man for all restraints.
At points during the communist phase, the Revolution often had to sacrifice freedom to impose equality. This is what happened, for example, to the Soviet Union and its massive repressive state. Communist theorists hold that the Revolutionary process goes from “liberation” to “liberation” as part of the historical dialectical process as it advances inexorably toward the final utopia that will be totally free and absolutely equal.
This dialectic process was reflected in the preamble of the Soviet Constitution, which stated: “The supreme goal of the Soviet state is the construction of a classless communist society in which communist social self-management will develop.”2 FV Konstantinov of the Soviet Academy of Sciences explains that this process with bring about “the withering away of the state,” i.e., the disappearance of the repressive apparatus that characterized the Soviet period and the beginning of a new era of total freedom and total equality, precisely the communist utopia.3
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Throughout the twentieth century, the transition from state socialism to a communist, libertarian utopia was a major topic of discussion among communist and socialist intellectuals. None of them defended the continuation of the Soviet status quo. Theirs is an evolutionary vision that conceives history as a continuous becoming. During the Soviet period, several attempts were made to implement transitions to the next phase: Gramscism, Frankfurt School, Freudian Marxism, Marxist Humanism, the Cultural Revolution, Self-managing Socialism and so on.
This tension within the Revolution to transition to new liberations has survived to this day. And so we return to Mariela Castro Espín.
Everything in Cuba is completely controlled. Any activity not sanctioned by the government can lead to prison or, worse, the paredón—the wall of execution. It is inconceivable that Castro Espín, a high-ranking member of the Cuban nomenklatura, could do anything that is not explicitly permitted, indeed, promoted by the Communist Party.
In other words, her high-profile activism for LGBT “rights” in Cuba and abroad is part of a communist strategy, which represents the next step in the process, the Fourth Revolution. This Revolution germinates from within the Third and perhaps even clashes with it. The historical dialectic process may generate internal conflict, but it always advances toward the goal of anarchist utopia.
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It is no coincidence that, while maintaining Soviet-style state repression, Cuba has progressed towards moral libertarianism. For example, free sex reassignment surgery has been legal since 2008. In 2014, “gender” discrimination was outlawed. In 2018, a referendum approved a new “Family Code,” which includes same-sex marriage, adoption of children by same-sex couples, surrogacy and so on. Indeed, in the field of LGBT “rights,” Cuba is on par with the most liberal countries in the world. We might also mention that abortion was legalized in 1965.
Reacting to Mariela Castro Espín’s visit, several anti-Castro figures in Italy have called for a ban on communism, just as there is a ban on fascism. I couldn’t agree more. However, let us not lose sight that the problem is more profound. Today we cannot be true anti-communists without also opposing the most recent developments of the revolutionary process: abortion, homosexuality, the LGBTQ agenda and general moral decadence.
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- Constitution—Fundamental Law of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Editorial Progreso, Moscow, 1980, p. 5.
- USSR Academy of Sciences—Institute of Philosophy, Fundamentos de la Filosofia Marxista, General Editor by FV KONSTANTINOV, Editorial Grijalbo, Mexico, 2a. Ed., 1965, nos. 538-539.