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Brian Kahn

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Interview: Mariela Castro Espin Opens a Window Into Today's Cuba

Posted: 04/24/2012 12:59 pm

It is clear that Cuba has entered a process of major economic and political reform. As a journalist in the mid-1980s, I covered some of Gorbachev's perestroika process for McClatchy News and the L.A. Times. We are, I think, seeing the Cuban variant. Obviously, the Cuban government is not interested in replicating the results of perestroika, which led to the Soviet's collapse. The aim seems clear: to increase economic productivity, including an expanded private and co-operative sector -- reforms essential to preserving the socialist Cuban state and society. Not getting much attention are the political implications of these changes.

In Havana I recently interviewed Mariela Castro Espin, daughter of President Raul Castro. Head of the National Center for Sex Education, she is author of nine academic books and winner of the prestigious Eureka Prize. A mother of three, she is a social activist and leader in Cuba's struggle to achieve equal rights for its gay, lesbian and transgender people.

In this 27-minute interview, Mariela answers probing questions with candor: family issues, her core values, the politics of advocating gay rights in Cuba, criticism of Soviet-style socialism, her critique of multi-party democracy and capitalism, her advocacy of broader public participation within the Communist Party and government. Mariela's interview gives a personal, intriguing window into what is happening in Cuba, and what is likely to be coming.

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Brian Kahn
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