May 23, 2012- The daughter of Raul Castro, the president of Cuba has been approved for a U.S. Visa and will travel this week to California. Mariela Castro will be attending a conference, but a number of scholars from Cuba who applied for visas were denied.
The conference she will be attending is for the Latin American Studies Association. She was approved, while 11 other scholars who applied to participate in the same conference were denied by the State Department. Some of the eleven who were denied are prominent Cubans who in the past have received visas to enter the U.S. One, Rafael Hernandez, is the editor of Temas an intellectual journal and he has taught at both Columbia and Harvard.
The problems with travel between the U.S. and Cuba remain an important issue in the minds of most exiled Cubans in the U.S. as well as the media. Citizen in the U.S. enjoy rights to visit the island nation through people-to-people exchanges, under the new White House regulations. Although, the rules are quite specific and the agendas need to be pre-approved making travel still quite narrow.
Cubans hoping to hop a plan to the U.S. or anywhere are subject to controls by their government including a costly exit visa that many cannot afford, not only because of its cost, but also because of unspoken rules that often times results in years of waiting or denial of permission to leave.
Castro will speak in San Francisco on the policies of her country toward transgender people. She will visit with many of the people in the LGBT community. However, a number of scholars will remain in Cuba, not able to join the conference as they have in the past.