1. Pete says

    First off, I don’t think the film was made in Cuba (though it mostly takes place there). It is very critical of the regime which unfortunately still doesn’t tolerate criticism, so I doubt it was made in Cuba (which also would get prickly with our embargo).

    This Mariela seems to be a genuine ally. Let’s hope that with the changes in leadership, that at least some of the stodgy old homophobic Communists who run the country will allow real rights to gays there, starting by ceasing police harassment of gays, hefty fines for public displays of gay affection, and allowing legal gay establishments to open up in Havana.

  2. says

    For anyone who knows the ideology of Russia Today (It’s sort of Putin’s Fox News) and Cuba, there’s something amusing about this post. LOL, so Cuba wasn’t a satellite of the Soviet Union? And we all regret the fall of the Soviet Union?

    Mariela’s been at it for a decade now, and she’s definitely done a lot of good. About 1995 the Cuban authorities realized the propaganda value of a 180 degree shift in their policy towards gay people (i. e. US leftists tend to support Cuba, but they also tend to be gay friendly, here’s a way to shore up support).

    The film of Before Night Falls was certainly NOT shot in Cuba, where I have no doubt Arenas is still forbidden. Part of that film (and novel) deals with the Mariel boat lift, when Castro emptied the prisons and allowed various unwanted citizens and criminals, including gay Cubans, the brief chance to leave the country. 125000 people left the socialist utopia in 1980. On the earlier sordid history of gays in Cuba, see Nestor Almendros’s Improper Conduct.

    Strawberry and Chocolate, which touches on gay themes (though less damningly) was shot in Cuba.

  3. Antonio says

    Don’t you see this is the new Castro bullshit? Why would you want to marry in a country deprived of the basic freedoms, for what social advantages? Same sex unions are superfluous in a country where you cannot travel freely or there is no freedom of speech.
    For more information about who this Mariela person really is visit Yoanni’s blog (
    Fidel has been fooling the world for 50 years and this is another farce of the so called new Cuban aperturismo.
    Note: I am not Cuban or an exiled Cuban

  4. Michael says

    KevinVT: I was about to say the same thing about RT. It’s incredibly fascinating! Nonetheless, Mariella is working hard and making a difference.

  5. says

    AIDS: Dark in Life

    -Mohammad Khairul Alam-
    -Executive Director-
    -Rainbow Nari O Shishu Kallyan Foundation-
    -24/3 M. C. Roy Lane-
    -Dhaka-1211, Bangladesh-
    -Tell: 880-2-8628908-
    -Mobile: 88-01711344997-

    The Asian HIV/AIDS epidemic is highly dynamic. Though, in the early 1980s when the HIV/AIDS epidemic was becoming significant in the Western Hemisphere and Africa, only a few cases of HIV infection were reported in Asia. The risky behaviour and vulnerability, which promote, fuel and facilitate the rapid transmission of HIV, are present in virtually all countries of the Asian region. Thus, the potential for its further spread is significant. Based on evidence from various causes, behaviours that produce the highest risk of infection in this region are unprotected sex (both heterosexual and homosexual) and needle sharing among intravenous drug users (IDUs). However, the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Asia took a new turn in the 1990s. It is spreading faster in parts of Asia than in other regions of the world. Some have predicted that the magnitude of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in this region in the twenty-first century could be much worse.

    Trafficking in young girls, children and women is a matter of great concern all over the world. In South Asia, cross-border trafficking, sourcing, transit to destination is a big problem. Even more prevalent is the movement of persons within the countries for exploitation in various forms. There are no definite figures about the number of victims.

    Trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation is the most virulent form in South Asia. Internal displacement due to conflict in some of these countries, poverty and lack of employment opportunities, increase the vulnerabilities to being trafficked.

    AIDS researcher Mr. Anirudha Alam said, “Trafficking & HIV/AIDS is interrelated, especially women and girls are trafficking for use of sexual industry. Most of trafficking girls would face several physical & sexual abuses. When a girl or women newly enrolls a sex industry, she tries to safe herself heard & soul, but most of the time they couldn’t free her.”

    Though this data is not enough to certify the fact, still South Asia is home to one of the largest concentrations of people living with HIV. Female sex workers (FSWs) – as a group – are an important driver of the epidemic. As has been shown in a very recent research involving repatriated FSWs in Nepal, many of the FSWs who have been trafficked are at a significantly higher risk than “average” women of contracting HIV. The Rainbow Nari O Shishu Kallyan Foundation conducted a survey that focuses on the attitude, behavior and practice of FSWs in Goalondo Brothel, this study points out that almost 53% of sex workers enter the profession before the age of 20 years, and 30% enter between 20 to 25 years of age, and some of them have been entangled through instigation of the traffickers.

    The spread of HIV/AIDS in Asia is expected to accelerate if Governments fail to act with a sense of urgency, and if preventive action is taken too little or too late. In this regard, the Monitoring the AIDS Pandemic Study has warned that the recent increase in HIV prevalence in specific locations in Asia should be regarded as a serious warning of more widespread epidemics. It is also significant to recognize that HIV/AIDS cases are often underreported. Asia is lacking in providing a comprehensive system of complete range of voluntary counseling with testing (VCT) services. However, governments and some NGOs have developed some VCT centers in several regoin in their countries. Though insufficient in number, the initiative is praiseworthy.

    The risk factors for HIV/AIDS infection is at an upsetting level in Bangladesh. Being a low prevalence country, containing the epidemic in the early stage is very essential. The Voluntary Counseling and Testing (VCT) services for HIV is now acknowledged within the international arena as an efficacious and pivotal strategy for both HIV/AIDS prevention and care. The need for VCT is increasingly compelling as HIV infection rates continue to rise, and many countries recognised the need for their populations to know their sero-status as an important prevention and intervention tool. However, access to VCT services in Bangladesh like many developing countries is limited. Many people are still very reluctant to be tested for HIV. This reluctance is the result of barriers to VCT, which are: stigma, gender inequalities and lack of perceived benefit.

    The consequences of HIV/AIDS can be far-reaching for young people. Not only does HIV disease have terrible consequences for the individual, causing serious illness and eventual death, it has the potential to trigger negative social reactions. Across the world, people with HIV/AIDS routinely experience discrimination, stigmatization and ostracization.

    References: CARE, World Bank, UNAIDS.