MEXICO CITY – Fidel Castro acknowledged to a Mexican newspaper that he bears the ultimate responsibility for the persecution suffered by Cuban homosexuals at the beginning of the revolution.
The admission appeared Tuesday in capital daily La Jornada, the second installment of editor Carmen Lira’s exclusive interview with the former Cuban president.
The persecution of gays occurred at a time of “great injustice,” Castro said, criticizing himself for not paying “sufficient attention” to the matter.
“If anyone is responsible, I am,” Castro declared to the daily, acknowledging that at this time he is “trying to define” the extent of his responsibility for those deeds.
He said he doesn’t harbor any personal prejudice toward gays and lesbians.
Castro also recalled that the attacks he suffered during the early part of the Revolution disturbed him “tremendously” and complicated some of his decisions.
“The war against the Yankees, the matter of weapons and, almost simultaneous with those, the attacks against me,” he specified.
“Escaping from the Central Intelligence Agency, which bought so many traitors, at times among one’s own people, was not a simple thing. But, in the end, if responsibility has to be taken, I take it. I’m not going to put the blame on others,” he added.
La Jornada noted that since the 1990s homosexuality has been decriminalized in Cuba and since 2008 free sex-change operations have been offered on the communist-ruled island.
Regarding the U.S. economic embargo, which was initiated in 1962, Castro denounced the fact that “it is in force now more than ever.”
The 84-year-old former head of state, who ceded power to younger brother Raul Castro in 2006 after being stricken with a near-fatal illness, also said that his country was the victim of “bacteriological warfare” that allowed hemorrhagic dengue fever to come to the island.
“It brought the dengue 2 virus here. In pre-revolutionary Cuba, not even the 1 virus (the non-lethal form of the illness) was known here. Here, the 2 appeared, which is much more dangerous because it produces hemorrhagic dengue which attacks children, above all,” he said.
Castro said that the virus, which killed 150 Cubans, was brought into the country in the 1970s by counterrevolutionary groups linked to Luis Posada Carriles, a Cuban-born Venezuelan citizen, although he did not detail how that might have been accomplished.
Posada, a one-time U.S. Army officer and CIA asset, is accused of being behind the 1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner, which left 73 people dead, as well as being involved in bombings at Havana hotels that resulted in the death of an Italian tourist.
The suspected terrorist is currently in the United States awaiting trial on charges of lying to immigration officials. EFE