Monday, July 02, 2012

Fidel Castro embraces widow of lesbian singer Sara González

In writing about Mariela Castro's recent visit to the United States I left a couple of stories about Cuba on the back burner.  This is one of them.

When former Cuban president Fidel Castro emerged from his self-imposed seclusion in February to promote the first two volumes of his autobiography most international reports focused on the six hours it took Castro to present the tomes and their combined length of 1,000 pages.

Those reports were based on an online article posted by On February 4th by Cuban newspaper Gramma and most of them seemed to skip over another passage I have taken the liberty to translate:
Diana Balboa, the ashes of whose partner Sara González will be scattered over the waters of Havana Bay on Saturday, joined Fidel on the stage at his request.  He put his arms around her and championed her dedication and care towards the iconic Cuban trova singer during the months her intense battle with cancer lasted. "I know you were courageous", said Fidel, to which she replied "She was the courageous one, Comandante. She showed a lot of valor and, as long as she was lucid, she was mindful of her work and her patriotic Cuban identity - and she did rest in peace, she did not experience a tragic end".
Sara González was one of the founders of the nueva trova music movement in Cuba and among the few that remained in Cuba in support of Fidel Castro and the Cuban revolution. She was also mercilessly mocked by Cuban critics outside the island for her support of the Castro government.

In Cuba, more than a few people took note of the Gramma 'outing' of Ms. González and Ms. Balboa's long term relationship in February including Cuban blogger Mayktel who wrote about the ash-scattering ceremony on his blog.

Five months later, the incident has been all but forgotten but it still sticks out in my mind in light of Fidel being called one of the biggest homophobes in the history of the world.

I found it striking that Fidel made a point of acknowledging Ms. Balboa's relationship with Ms. González and I wanted to leave and English-language record of the exchange.

There are some amazing images of Ms. González in the following YouTube video with a background soundtrack of her singing "Su Nombre Es Pueblo". It includes an image of Ms. González (in blue) and Ms. Balboa (in red) at the 1:14 minute mark.  She is also shown standing next to Mariela Castro at the 1:46 minute mark.

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