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Gay Cuban Emigre Community Gardeners in NYC

  • Subject: [cg] Gay Cuban Emigre Community Gardeners in NYC
  • From: Adam36055@aol.com
  • Date: Mon, 31 Jul 2006 22:07:34 EDT


The wonderful organic gardening practiced all over Cuba is well documented 
and exemplary - and the Cuban pharmaceutical industry is producing, according to 
the BBC all the retrovirs it needs and exporting some to Africa.

However, over the years in NYC, as volunteers in the fight against AIDS, 
through neighborhood and political work supporting the creation of the NYC Dept of 
AIDS services, support of the Spellman Center at St. Clare's Hospital in NYC 
( now St. Vincent's Midtown Hospital) and in our local Hell's Kitchen 
Community garden my late wife, Allegra, a RN and I  kept encountering gay male HIV + 
Cubans who were part of the Mariel and later expulsions by raft by the Cuban 
government of "undesirables."

The story of "detention for weeks/months without food or medicine," was 
almost uniform among these individuals, who   either died or managed, with Medicaid 
supplied healthcare and suportive comunities, like our gardens to live.  Some 
found the US capitalist system ( I don't care for the euphemism "free 
enterprise") oppressive, others embraced it - but the "detention for weeks/months  
without food or medicine," story was uniform, and I'm describing about 50 or so 
individuals that I've known over a  25 year period. 

Readers of this listserv may have encountered my reports of the work ACGA 
members did to help save the Bellevue Hospital Sobriety Garden. One of the 
gardeners is a "Marielito," and the story of "detention for weeks/months without 
food or medicine," was heard, again.

While this is hearsay, and would be considered so in any court of law, as the 
child of two Holocaust survivors who heard the same stories repeated over and 
over by friends and relatives, I tend to believe these kinds of stories told 
to me, one-by-one by gay Cuban friends and fellow gardeners who would have 
nothing to gain by recounting them to me. 

Cuba may indeed be a "worker's paradise," and all of the things that their 
active foreign ministry says about it - lord knows enough of my friends took 
cane harvest trips to the Island during the 60s & 70s, and ecotourism may provide 
and equally wholesome vacation...
However, 25 years of stories about "detention for weeks/months without or 
medicine," before being shoved onto a leaky boat or raft because one was an 
undesirable, a homosexual makes me a little less apt than others, especially 
Canadian promoters of the wonders of the the Cuban organic gardening revolution, to 
want to buy a ticket to Mexico or Canada and head off to that beautiful green 

Best regards, 
Adam Honigman  

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