A Castro Casts "No" Vote, Breaks Tradition In Cuba

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Image: CUBA-MARIELA CASTRO-AIR ALGERIE
File photo of Mariela Castro, daughter of Cuban president Raul Castro, talking to the press at the National Hotel in Havana on July 24, 2013. Castro broke with tradition and voted "no" in Cuba's National Assembly against a workers' rights bill that she felt didn't go far enough to prevent discrimination against people with HIV or with unconventional gender identities.YAMIL LAGE / AFP - Getty Images

A revolutionary tradition was broken in Cuba -a lawmaker voted "no" in parliament. But it wasn't just anyone, it was Fidel Castro's niece and President Raul Castro's daughter Mariela Castro.

Castro voted against a workers' rights bill that she felt didn't go far enough to prevent discrimination against people with HIV or with unconventional gender identities. None of the experts contacted by The Associated Press could remember another "no" vote in the 612-seat National Assembly.

Mariela Castro heads Cuba's National Center for Sex Education under the umbrella of the Health Ministry.

Few in Cuba were aware of the Dec. 20 vote until the measure was enacted into law this summer and gay activists publicized Castro's vote. Cuban analyst Arturo Lopez-Levy suggested it might "open doors for other important initiatives."

Others are skeptical. "I would say that this is more a sign of what Mariela can get away with than a sign of what your everyday parliamentarian can get away with," said Ted Henken, a professor of Latin American studies at Baruch College in New York.

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--The Associated Press

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