[Marxism] LA TIMES bash-o-rama: more clarifications

David Thorstad binesi at gvtel.com
Sat Dec 13 11:51:53 MST 2008

Walter wrote:

Yes, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, some Cuban gays were put in
camps. That was wrong and stupid, but that policy lasted about three
years and was dropped in the 1970s. At that very same time,
homosexuality was illegal in the United States, and was defined as an
illness by the psychiatric establishment.

David comments:

Again, more precision is called for here. The UMAP (Military Units to 
Aid Production) camps were created in 1965 (not the "late 1960s), and 
they were closed down in 1968 (not the "early 1970s"). As José Yglesias 
noted in his pro-revolution book /In the Fist of the Revolution/, the 
camps were set up "to take care of young men of military age whose 
incorporation into the Army for military training was considered 
unfeasible. Young men known to avoid work and study were candidates; so 
were known counter-revolutionaries; and also immoralists, a category 
that included homosexuals" (275).
    Ian Lumsden, in his book /Machos, Maricones, and Gays: Cuba and 
Homosexuality/, points out that another purpose of the camps was to 
provide cheap labor for the province of Camagüey, where they were all 
located. There was a shortage of labor there, where large tracts of land 
were being converted into cane fields. "In reality the UMAP involved 
forced labor, since their inmates were paid seven pesos a month, much 
less than other agricultural workers, and could only leave the camps 
under military escort in their spare time" (66).
    The camps were not created to intern homosexuals per se, because 
they included many others, including Jehovah's Witnesses, Seventh Day 
Adventists, conscientious objectors--all of whose religious beliefs made 
them hostile to homosexuals. Some camps were, however, reserved 
exclusively for homosexuals.
    "In the second half of the 1960s systematic purges of homosexuals in 
the arts, theater, and universities became institutionalized," Lumsden 
    Even after the camps were closed, homosexuality became a major 
concern and object of persecution in Cuba. This is typified by the 
notorious and stupid resolution at the first National Congress on 
Education and Culture in 1971, which condemned the "antisocial" 
character of homosexuality and deemed it to be "sociopathological." The 
Congress resolved "that all manifestations of homosexual deviation" were 
to be firmly rejected, and that "notorious homosexuals" (such as 
Reinaldo Arenas and Heberto Padilla) were to be denied jobs in any 
institution where they might have an influence on youth. Severe 
penalties were to be imposed on anyone who "corrupted the morals of 
minors", as well as "depraved repeat offenders" and "irremediable 
antisocial elements." This Congress was the first time in Cuban history, 
despite its endemic homoerotophobia, that antihomosexual prejudice had 
been institutionally legitimized.
    The American Psychiatric Association, under pressure from groups 
like New York Gay Activists Alliance, in 1973 removed homosexuality as a 
mental disorder from its diagnostic manual.

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