Alina Fernández, the daughter of Cuban leader Fidel Castro, is scheduled to speak in the Florida Keys on March 8 for a book presentation about her life on the island and in exile. The presentation is based on her 1998 memoir, Castro’s Daughter: An Exile’s Memoir of Cuba, which describes her life in Castro’s Cuba and the changes that occurred after the Cuban Revolution in 1959.
As a former member of the Cuban elite, Fernández will talk about politics on the island in the 60s and 70s. She’ll also share personal anecdotes about Cuban society and the world surrounding her late father. The presentation will be held in Islamorada, at the Keys History & Discovery Center at 6 p.m. on Wednesday.
On the other end of the spectrum, Mariela Castro Espín, the daughter of Cuban president Raúl Castro and Fernández’s cousin, is pushing forward a bold proposal to fight prostitution on the island by penalizing people who pay for sex services.
Castro is the director of the Cuban National Center for Sex Education (CENESEX) and a prominent activist for LGBT and women’s rights on the island. She recently spoke on national television about using measures adopted by other countries to combat prostitution, such as going after clients instead of sex workers. This strategy was adopted in Sweden in 1999 and was recently picked up by France.
Castro also talked about the possibility of legalizing prostitution as a form of work, a strategy that was adopted in the Netherlands and Belgium years ago. But she favored the Swedish approach because prostitution “takes away people’s rights,” El Nuevo Herald reports. She made the remarks on Mesa Redonda, a TV program that discussed the International Symposium on Gender Violence, Prostitution, Sexual Tourism and Human Trafficking, which was recently held in Havana.
Ted Henken, a sociologist and professor at Baruch College, told El Nuevo Herald that Cuba was not ready to go after people who pay for sex because “prostitution in Cuba is part of tourism.”
The practice was prohibited after the 1959 revolution, but it became a means of survival after the collapse of the USSR in the early 1990s. The economic crisis forced the island to open itself up to international tourism and led to the spread of prostitution.
Alberto Roque, an LGBT rights activist on the island, said the discussion to penalize clients who pay for sex could reach the legislature if institutions and civil society influenced the debate. Roque told the press that he does not think “the people are ready” because prostitutes are still viewed as people with a “negative” value.
In the United States, prostitution has long been illegal save for in Nevada. Las Vegas, famed for its casinos, is also dotted with legal brothels. Elsewhere in the United States, prostitution is a crime and both the buyer and the seller can be prosecuted.