By Shasta Darlington, CNN
August 31, 2010 -- Updated 1710 GMT (0110 HKT)
* Cuba sent openly gay men to labor camps with no charges in the '60s
* Fidel Castro acknowledges "persecution" of gays and lesbians during
* Castro says the U.S. embargo against Cuba encouraged his country to be
Havana, Cuba (CNN) -- Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro said he
acknowledges the persecution of gays and lesbians during the Revolution
in his country, according to a newspaper interview published Tuesday.
Throughout the 1960s and '70s, Cuba sent openly gay men to labor camps
without charge or trial.
"They were moments of great injustice, great injustice!" Castro told
journalist Carmen Lira Saade from the Mexican daily La Jornada. "If
someone is responsible, it's me."
His comments came in the second installment of a two-part interview. The
first half of the interview -- a wide-ranging, five-hour conversation at
his home -- was published Monday.
"We had so many and such terrible problems, problems of life or death,
that we didn't pay it enough attention," Castro said of the way gays and
lesbians were treated.
In 1979, Cuba decriminalized homosexual acts and more recently, there
have been efforts to legalize same-sex unions.
The former leader, whose popular Revolution seized power in 1959, ruled
the island nation until ill health forced him to transfer power to his
younger brother Raul Castro in 2006.
In the La Jornada interview, Fidel Castro also talked about the impact
of the five-decade U.S. embargo on Cuba.
"The biggest problem was always medicine and food, which is true even
today," he said.
While the embargo prevented Cuba from trading with much of the world, it
also encouraged the country to be more creative, Castro said.
"The fight, the battle that we had to carry out, led us to make greater
efforts than we would have made without the blockade," he explained.
The United States imposed the embargo against Cuba in 1961 after
Castro's government began seizing private land and nationalizing private
companies, and Havana levied heavy taxes on American goods.