“Everything was getting worse. I think that from that moment everything in Cuba started going downhill, instead of growing and opening up. Because then there was the whole thing around the Family Code, then Article 68, when the Constitution was being changed, which a lot of people voted against. That was the moment when Cuban churches took advantage of the situation and started their campaigns. Many people started saying no, and that they were getting tired of the attention the gays were receiving, undeservedly. And then, for the first time, I could see that the community (LGBTIQ) was seriously threatened.”
“Something they don’t tell you while you’re studying at the university (but they do tell you when you start working for the state media) is that if you don’t complete your compulsory social service, they invalidate your degree, meaning you can’t work as a journalist anywhere else and if at some point you decide to leave the country and you want to revalidate your degree at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which, by the way, is incredibly expensive, it costs 500 dollars, you can’t, because your degree is invalid, because they’re going to call the ministry and it’s like you didn’t finish your studies. End of story.”
“We can all agree that the society of Cuba is heteronormative, heteropatriarchal, extremely sexist. It’s like you give birth for yourself. In Cuba, women give birth for themselves. Father figures are close to non-existent, although right now there’s a lot of programmes that strive to include the father, to make the ideal father be seen; but that’s not really the case in Cuba. In Cuba, you’re a child of your mother, your grandmother, your aunts or other family members that are close to your mother. In Cuba, ‘family’ doesn’t mean mum and dad. It’s not as peachy as the textbooks say.”
“Life in the suburbs of Havana, the capital city, means your economic situation is not good and will not be good, and most of all, it’s marked by a lot of people, many black families. I don’t like the word afro-descendent, which is what you would usually hear in Cuba. I like to call things by their names: they’re black. We’re black, we’re white and mestizaje is fine by me, but it really doesn’t work like that in Cuba. As I was saying, the marginal character of life there means that there are neighbourhoods where there’s more stealing, more sketchy business, more black business to put it some way, where prostitution is more noticeable. There’s also way more disfunctional families, because your father is in jail, or you have an uncle who’s a criminal or a person who kills or steals.”
Raiza Arango Medina was born in Havana, Cuba, in the Arroyo Naranjo municipality. As a daughter of divorced parents, she was raised only by her mother who worked as a teacher, which meant she lived in poverty due to her mother’s low salary. She lived in a neighbourhood in the suburbs of Havana, full of firearms, violent people, prostitutes and, above all, black people – word she prefers to call her race by, instead of the government-installed “afro-descendent.” She was always interested towards journalism and studied this field at the University of Havana. In order for her to fulfil her compulsory social service, the government placed her in the newspaper Granma (the official paper of the Communist Party of Cuba), which she never agreed to, so she asked to be transferred to the weekly newspaper Trabajadores. After some time, she went to work at the National Center of Sex Education (Cenesex), directed by Mariela Castro. In 2021, she emigrated from Cuba to Mexico, where she currently resides.