Saturday, April 27, 2013

Correction: Castro's Daughter-Visit Denied story

Posted on Friday, 04.26.13

Correction: Castro's Daughter-Visit Denied story
The Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA -- In an April 25 story about Mariela Castro being denied
permission to visit Philadelphia, The Associated Press erroneously
reported that she has no official link to the Cuban government other
than kinship. She was elected as a deputy in Cuba's parliament in February.

A corrected version of the story is below:

US won't allow Castro's daughter to visit Philly

Organizers of Philly gay rights conference say US won't let Castro's
daughter attend event

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - The daughter of Cuba President Raul Castro cannot
visit Philadelphia to receive an award for her gay rights activism
because the State Department has denied her permission to travel there,
officials said Thursday.

Mariela Castro had been expected to attend a conference next week on
civil rights for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities
sponsored by the Equality Forum, according to Malcolm Lazin, the
advocacy group's executive director.

"We find it shocking that our State Department would deny freedom of
speech, particularly at an international civil rights summit, to anyone,
let alone the Cuban president's daughter," Lazin said.

State Department spokesman Noel Clay said he could not comment on the
case because visa records are confidential.

Mariela Castro, the niece of retired leader Fidel Castro, is director of
Cuba's National Center for Sex Education. As that country's most
prominent gay rights activist, she has instituted awareness campaigns,
trained police on relations with the LGBT community and has lobbied
lawmakers to legalize same-sex unions.

Guillermo Suarez, spokesman for Cuba's United Nations Mission, confirmed
that Mariela Castro was in New York on Thursday attending meetings
related to the U.N. population conference in Cairo in 1994. She is one
of the experts designated by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to work on
the 20-year follow-up to the action plan adopted in Egypt, Suarez said.

"That's why she asked for the visa and it's the reason for her presence
in New York," he said.

Suarez said Castro "doesn't have any personal reaction" to the State
Department's denial of her request to travel to Philadelphia.

The State Department bars Cuban diplomats from traveling more than 25
miles from central Manhattan.

The Philadelphia-based Equality Forum sponsors an annual, dayslong
international summit on LGBT civil rights. Each year, the event
spotlights issues being faced by the LGBT community in a particular
nation; this year, the featured nation is Cuba.

Lazin said Castro had agreed to speak on a panel about Cuba on May 4 and
was to accept an award for her activism at a dinner that night. He did
not expect any visa problems because she had been granted permission to
attend an academic conference in San Francisco last year.

However, a number of Cuban-American politicians criticized the State
Department for issuing Castro an entry visa for that event. They noted
that U.S. rules prohibit Communist Party members and other high-ranking
Cuban government officials from entry without special dispensation.

Castro was elected as a deputy in Cuba's parliament in February, and the
sex education center is part of Cuba's public health ministry.

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