Mariela Castro Not on Missing Air Algerie Plane

It was originally reported Thursday morning that Mariela Castro, LGBT rights activist and niece of former Cuban president Fidel Castro, was on the Air Algerie flight that went missing over Mali. But as Gay Star News points out, Castro went on a Latin American TV station to say she was alive.

Early Thursday, news broke 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 reported Fidel Castro's niece, Mariela Castro, was one of the 110 passengers.

"Among the passengers of VOL AH5017, there were two EU civil servants of French nationality based in Ouagadougou and Mariela Castro, the niece of Fidel Castro, the former Cuban leader," Ouagadougou Airport said in a statement, according to GSN.

However, it appears Castro is alive and well as she appeared on Telesur TV, a Latin American channel Thursday. She said she was in Havana where she presented her doctorate thesis on transgender people to experts. She also paid tribute to those on the missing plane.

On the MD-38 model plane are 50 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.

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