Castro admits 'injustice' for gays and lesbians during revolution


By Shasta Darlington, CNN
August 31, 2010 -- Updated 1710 GMT (0110 HKT)

Havana, Cuba (CNN) -- Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro said he acknowledges the persecution of gays and lesbians during the Revolution in his country, according to a newspaper interview published Tuesday.

Throughout the 1960s and '70s, Cuba sent openly gay men to labor camps without charge or trial.

"They were moments of great injustice, great injustice!" Castro told journalist Carmen Lira Saade from the Mexican daily La Jornada. "If someone is responsible, it's me."

His comments came in the second installment of a two-part interview. The first half of the interview -- a wide-ranging, five-hour conversation at his home -- was published Monday.

"We had so many and such terrible problems, problems of life or death, that we didn't pay it enough attention," Castro said of the way gays and lesbians were treated.

In 1979, Cuba decriminalized homosexual acts and more recently, there have been efforts to legalize same-sex unions.

The former leader, whose popular Revolution seized power in 1959, ruled the island nation until ill health forced him to transfer power to his younger brother Raul Castro in 2006.

In the La Jornada interview, Fidel Castro also talked about the impact of the five-decade U.S. embargo on Cuba.

"The biggest problem was always medicine and food, which is true even today," he said.

While the embargo prevented Cuba from trading with much of the world, it also encouraged the country to be more creative, Castro said.

"The fight, the battle that we had to carry out, led us to make greater efforts than we would have made without the blockade," he explained.

The United States imposed the embargo against Cuba in 1961 after Castro's government began seizing private land and nationalizing private companies, and Havana levied heavy taxes on American goods.


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