Gay Cuban journalist, activist fired from radio station
A gay Cuban journalist and activist says he was fired from a
government-run radio station because he worked with independent media.
Maykel González Vivero hosted a program on Radio Sagua that highlighted
the history of Sagua la Grande, a small city that is roughly 165 miles
east of Havana.
González, who is a member of Proyecto Arcoiris, an independent Cuban
LGBT advocacy group, wrote on his Facebook page last week that Radio
Sagua Director Carlos Orlando Manrique did not extend his contract
because of his “collaborating with private media.” González said his
last program aired on Sept. 3.
Activist challenged Cuban government in 2015 Blade interview
González began his blog Nictálope, a Spanish word that describes a
person or an animal that can see better at night than during the day, in
2007. He has also contributed to Diario de Cuba and other independent
Cuban websites that are critical of the Communist island’s government.
González in 2012 publicly criticized the removal of statistics from the
Cuban census that noted the number of same-sex couples who live in the
country. He wrote on Facebook that Radio Sagua punished him for
“criticizing an event that the country had made a priority.”
González said Radio Sagua Director Carlos Orlando Manrique filed a
complaint with Cuban officials in 2014 after he learned that he was
planning to travel to Geneva.
González wrote on Facebook that members of the Cuban Communist Party
told him he could declare himself a “counterrevolutionary.” He traveled
to Switzerland twice and returned to work at Radio Sagua.
González wrote on Facebook that he is among the members of Cuban civil
society who have met with Norwegian and Swedish officials. He attended
an internet forum in Stockholm last year.
“The deputy director (of Radio Sagua) told me before I went to
Scandinavia, ‘You will not come back,’ as though to insinuate that I
would not return,” wrote González on his Facebook page.
González told the Washington Blade during an interview at his apartment
in Sagua la Grande in May 2015 that he had faced harassment at Radio
Sagua because of his independent LGBT advocacy. He said there are
“risks” for criticizing Mariela Castro, the daughter of Cuban President
Raúl Castro who champions LGBT-specific issues as the director of the
Cuba’s National Center for Sexual Education, and other government
officials and organizations.
“People quickly assume that you are a dangerous person because you are
someone who asks questions,” González told the Blade. “As a result you
find yourself in this zone where you are seen as a social pariah.”
González told the Blade on Wednesday during a telephone interview from
Sagua la Grande that his LGBT activism “was very visible.”
He said “it doesn’t appear” as though his advocacy efforts or his public
criticism of Mariela Castro factored into Radio Sagua’s decision to fire
him. González told the Blade the Cuban government in recent months has
targeted other journalists.
“I am not the only one affected,” he said.
The U.S. formally restored diplomatic relations with Cuba in 2015.
The State Department notes in its 2015 human rights report the Cuban
government “does not recognize independent journalism.” It also
indicates that officials on the Communist island detain independent
journalists and subjects them to physical abuse and other forms of
The Committee to Protect Journalists describes Cuba as one of the “most
censured” countries in the world.
Radio Sagua writes on its homepage that it reports “the truth about Cuba.”
Neither Radio Sagua nor the Cuban Embassy in D.C. returned the Blade’s
requests for comment. Efforts to reach representatives of the Cuban
government in Havana were unsuccessful.
González told the Blade that he plans to continue working with
independent Cuban media outlets. He said he will also redouble his LGBT
“I would like to work with the press,” said González. “I would like to
return to activism stronger.”
Michael K. Lavers has been a staff writer for the Washington Blade since
May 2012. The passage of Maryland’s same-sex marriage law, the HIV/AIDS
epidemic, the burgeoning LGBT rights movement in Latin America and the
consecration of gay New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson are among the
many stories he has covered since his career began in 2002. Follow Michael
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