Missing Air Algerie Plane Reportedly Carrying LGBT Activist Mariela Castro
News broke Thursday morning that an Air Algerie jetliner carrying 116 vanished from the radar in a desert area of Mali. While reports about the missing plane are still coming in, ABC News reports Fidel Castro's niece the LGBT rights activist Mariela Castro, was one of the 110 passengers.
Air navigation officials lost the plane about 50-minutes after it took off from Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, which was to land in Algiers - the capital city of Algeria.
On the MD-38 model plane are 51 French nationals, 24 Burkina Faso nationals, six Lebanese, five Canadians, four Algerians, two Luxemburg nationals, one Swiss, one Nigerian one Cameroonian and one Malian, according to Burkina Faso's transport minister.
Swiftair, the Spanish company that operates the plane, released a statement saying the plane never reached its destination.
Mariela Castro is the director of the Cuban National Center for Sex Education in Havana and a prominent LGBT rights activist in Cuba. She's the daughter of the country's current president Raul Castro, and the niece of former president Fidel Castro.
Her organization campaigns for AIDS prevention and LGBT human rights and acceptance. In 2005, she proposed a project to allow transgender people to receive gender reassignment surgery and to change their legal gender. Her measure became law in 2008, allowing trans Cubans to undergo reassignment surgery without charge.