The perverse nature of certain money
[Translation by Larry Goldsmith of comments from the blog Paquito, el de Cuba for September 4. See original here, diplomatic cable released by Wikileaks here, Miami Herald article mentioned below here, in Spanish, and here in English, and other related articles here.]
It didn’t appear in any pro-government Cuban publication; this time it wasn’t even necessary for State Security to unmask any of its agents: it is a document of none other than the U.S. Interests Section in Cuba — a gift from Wikileaks — that confirms US government financing of “Project B: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transexual (LGBT)” of the so-called dissidence.
The first thing I want to say is that this revelation hardly makes me happy. When I wrote about the march of nine people by a group of supposedly “independent” activists last June on the Prado, what hurt me was this apparent political manipulation of a cause to which so many of us in Cuba try to contribute our grain of sand — the effort to overcome homophobia and promote the freedom of sexual orientation and gender identity as a human right in our society.
In fact, this new finding catches me just as a group of friends and I are putting the finishing touches on a new initiative with this purpose, this time independent of state agencies, as another option for those who for whatever reason do not wish to participate in the wide-ranging work of the social networks of the National Center for Sexual Education (CENESEX), whose Men for Diversity group I also belong to.
Just the other day, still without a clear program and much less a penny, the first few members of Project Rainbow — the name of this idea still in the making — were debating how we could carry out this activism with our own media, what would be the best way to manage external contributions of any type, and in what way we could insure that money and its management didn’t complicate everything.
And in that context, Wikileaks reveals this report of the U.S. Interests Section, dated 15 June 2009, that describes a Project LGBT to create a “weekly news bulletin” that would have as its objective to “strengthen the already existing Cuban LGBT community, to enhance its consciousness and connection to the international LGBT community.”
The concrete idea is to “create, publish, and distribute a weekly news bulletin in Spanish that covers LGBT issues and events outside of Cuba” in a publication “conceived as the first step in a multi-stage project designed to improve the capacity of the LGBT community to publicize the conditions on the island and advocate for a change in the promotion and provision of constitutional and human rights.”
And immediately following, a list of resources requested for the occasion: “Laptop, Printer, Toner, and Printer paper OR economic resources to buy same on-island; Internet cards for use in hotels.”
The only publication we know of with these characteristics appeared very recently. Its name is Awake, and it was publicized as an “initiative” of the Cuban LGBT Rights Observatory. It was described by its creators as a “bimonthly bulletin,” “eight pages printed on both sides and with a print run of a few dozen copies.”
This is the same group that organized the June 28 walk in Havana during which one of its members — the brand new gay husband of the transexual Wendy Irepa, whose recent wedding set everyone talking — emphatically denied, without anyone having asked, “being financed by any organization of exiles.”
However, it seems that it could have gone much further than that. That would perhaps explain certain rather inconvenient godparents hanging around the Observatory, and its very few members, as well as those actions so well publicized outside of Cuba.
In that moment, the only evidence of U.S. government involvement in this internal affair of Cuban society was the announcement in the [Miami] newspaper El Nuevo Herald that “the Department of State foresees spending $300,000 this year to assist the LGBT community in Cuba.” But now the documents of the U.S. Interest Section itself corroborate that the execution of this proposal is really taking place.
Is the dollar or any currency in itself perverse?
Don’t all non-governmental organizations in the world receive donations, including projects collaborating with multiple Cuban government agencies, including CENESEX itself?
Is it legally and ethically correct to accept financing from a government that explicitly declares it wants to change the political, economic, and social system of the nation to which its presumed beneficiaries belong?
How could any truly independent group, with worries, dreams, and even critical positions, get around the whole past and present of interventionism and confrontation toward our country and toward the world, an attitude that is intrinsic to the nature of the United States as the major power in the hegemonic capitalist system, without corrupting its aims?
Are we or are we not within our rights to interpret as spurious, or at least to have reservations about, this type of supposed defense of LGBT rights, or of any other visibly just cause that could hide the conditionings and political interests of powerful benefactors?
Could those who accept this money be legitimate opponents of the Cuban government and its political project, or could they be against socialism and the Revolution precisely in order to obtain this money?