Tuesday, June 10, 2008

All change

Well, there is no stopping the pace of "reforms" being introduced by Raul Castro.

First, he allows ordinary Cubans to window-shop in State stores for outrageously over-priced DVD players and clunky old personal computers. Then, he gives them the right to buy mobile phones ... and to walk into the lobbies of the luxury hotels that had previously been reserved for rich capitalist tourists.

Now, Castro II has given the go ahead for a sex change operation to take place in Havana - at no expense to the patient!

It seems this historic decision follows pressure from his media savvy daughter, Mariela Castro, who heads the National Centre for Sex Education, which like all such organisations in Cuba is actually an arm of the Communist Party.

Pressured or not, it's a clever move.

Despite decades of discriminating, harassing and often terrorising homosexuals under the guise of "revolution", the decision to allow for sex change operations means that the historically homophobic Castro regime is all of a sudden, being lauded for its "far reaching reforms".

And not just by the regime's apologists abroad but by otherwise sensible, conservative newspapers like The Daily Telegraph in London.

According to the paper, the sex change initiative is only the latest in a series of "eye-catching reforms" introduced by the regime, which is also considering recognising same-sex unions and inheritance rights. "If those changes are approved," says the paper, "Cuba will have the most liberal sexuality laws in South America."

As I said, clever move.

For a different take, however, I point you in the direction of Zoe Valdes, an exiled Cuban writer now living in Paris, who is not only a terrific novelist but for her troubles, is thoroughly loathed by the regime.

As the mighty Ms Valdes points out in her blog, the absolute hypocrisy of the Castro brothers, Mariela Castro and their followers on this issue is nothing short of breathtaking.


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