- Raul Castro's daughter joined Twitter to discuss a recent trip
- Instead, she locked horns with a Cuban dissident
- Mariela Castro Espin lashes out at anti-government critics
Cuban President Raul Castro's daughter joined Twitter to set the record straight about an interview she did abroad, but ended up arguing with one of the communist island's prominent dissidents online.
Mariela Castro Espin wrote on her Twitter account, @CastroEspinM, that she recently made a trip to Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and toured the city's infamous red light district in her role as director for Cuba's National Center for Sexual Education.
An interview with Radio Netherlands characterized Castro Espin as "impressed" with the way the Dutch organize their prostitution. But on Twitter, Castro Espin said the conversation was taken out of context and that she would use social media to clarify her position.
"Without a doubt, there have been misunderstandings, manipulations, as always. At least there is the Web... and WikiLeaks," she wrote on Twitter.
Shortly afterward, Castro Espin was "welcomed" to the social networking site by Cuban dissident Yoani Sanchez, an outspoken critic of the Castro regime and avid Twitter user.
"Welcome to the plurality of Twitter," Sanchez tweeted to Castro Espin. "Here no one can shut me up, or deny me permission to travel or block my entry."
Castro Espin shot back: "Your focus on tolerance reproduces the old mechanisms of power. To improve your 'services' you need to study."
While there is long-running animosity between dissidents and the government, it is not common for the two sides to exchange barbs in such a public forum.
A bevy of critical replies to Castro Espin must have followed, for then she wrote on Twitter: "Despicable parasites: Did you receive the order from your employers to respond in unison and with the same predetermined script? Be creative."
In Cuba, where Internet access is limited or prohibitively expensive, many citizens use Twitter as a form of communicating, as Tweets can be posted from a simple text message.
Castro Espin is the niece of Fidel Castro. Her father, Raul Castro, assumed presidential duties from Fidel in 2006, and became president in 2008. Castro Espin's organization promotes gay rights in Cuba.
That fight for equal rights in Cuba led Sanchez to ask another question of Castro Espin on Twitter: "How can you ask for acceptance just for one issue? Is tolerance universal or not?" Castro Espin did not answer.