The daughter of former Cuban President Raúl Castro this week described the case of a transgender woman who is serving a 14-year prison sentence after she participated in an anti-government protest in 2021 as “an oversized story full of fantasies.” Mariela Castro, who directs Cuba’s National Center for Sexual Education, spoke about Brenda Díaz during an interview that Agencia EFE published on May 3.
Authorities arrested Díaz in Güira de Melena in Artemisa province on July 11, 2021. The Güira de Melena protest was one of dozens against the Cuban government that took place across the country on that day.
A Havana court last year sentenced Díaz to 14 years in prison. Cuba’s highest court later upheld the sentence. The State Department in a previous statement to the Washington Blade that called for Díaz’s release expressed concern over her “well-being” amid “reports that she is being held in a men’s prison and is not receiving appropriate medical treatment.” Díaz’s mother has previously said her daughter, who lives with HIV, has access to antiretroviral drugs, but other medications are not always available.
Díaz’s mother has also complained about the “very bad quality” of food in prison. “Brenda is very well there,” Mariela Castro told Agencia EFE. “She does not know that she is a media figure that has been invented against Cuba.” Mariela Castro said Díaz receives “very good food, better than her family has” in prison, and she is able to participate in sport activities and a library.