No Way that the Cuban Revolution is Racist

They keep on ranting about the issue of racism in Cuba (II)

Elio Delgado Legon

Photo: Juan Suarez
Photo: Juan Suarez

HAVANA TIMES — Staying on the subject of racism, I’m forced to refer to a post published on Havana Times written by Yusimi Rodriguez, contesting everything I wrote about Guillermo Farinas’ many hunger strikes, who has been transformed from a common prisoner for having seriously injured an old man into a political prisoner, because the counter-revolution needed more prisoners for its propaganda and to get their hands on the scraps that the US government pays out to them for their actions against the Revolution, which has made and supports the Cuban people, black and white alike, together.

And Yusimi is right when she says that I’m going to argue that I have a lot of black friends. Not only do I have black friends, but my best friends have been black and my best friend of all who I love as if he were my brother is mestizo. Furthermore, my son-in-law in mestizo. I have never had racist or discriminatory sentiments in my head or in my heart, just like any true revolutionary shouldn’t.

I’m very surprised that somebody who should have a high level of education writes things like the Revolution benefited from improving the lives of “a large part of the Cuban population, including those of Afro-Descendants. However, the regime has taken advantage of these improvements in the same way that Carlos Manuel de Cespedes did when he freed his slaves, inviting them to join the war against Spain: thereby guaranteeing committed, indebted subordinates.”

Firstly, it reveals a complete moral and ethical devaluation of the Father of our Nation, by judging him as a mean-spirited man interested only in benefiting from the liberation of his slaves. She forgets that she is referring to a man who had a great fortune and who committed this fortune to our Homeland. He gave slaves the freedom to choose whether they wanted to fight for their Homeland or be “free” under colonial Spanish oppression.

She refers to the Revolution in the same way, as if it were a person or an organization distanced from the Cuban people; however, the Cuban Revolution belongs to everyone, irrespective of race.

Calling the Revolution “racist” displays her great ignorance about what the Revolution is, or she’s on the counter-revolution’s side, organized and funded by the US government, and is therefore a counter-revolutionary mercenary.

By the way, I have never said that those who write for Havana Times are mercenaries, like Yusimi claims in her article. Mercenaries are those people who receive money from a foreign enemy power, whatever it is they do. And the person who belongs to this counter-revolution, funded by the US, is nothing but a mercenary, even though he holds the Guinness world record for hunger strikes, which are only carried out to make propaganda against the Revolution.

Yusimi ignores, because of her age, what life for black Cubans were before the Revolution. If white Cubans were exploited and died of hunger and preventable and curable diseases, you can imagine what it was like for black Cubans, in a country which was just as racist as the US. I invite her to read and familiarize herself with this subject. And if she still insists on the idea that the Revolution is racist, at least it will no longer be out of ignorance.

One thing that caught my attention in Yusimi’s post was her mention of the film “City in Red” and [race car driver] Juan Manuel Fangio’s kidnapping. I’d like to clear up the fact that the bombs they made were to sabotage the economy of Batista’s tyranny, not to kill innocent people, and therefore it wasn’t terrorism, but sabotage, which are two very different things. And I don’t understand why she referred to Fangio’s kidnapping, as Fangio understood what was going on and cooperated, he wasn’t harmed in any way.

Finally, I want to refer to what Yusimi said about “we’ve been injected with the idea that if white people don’t have the right to oppose the regime, we black Cubans certainly don’t…”

Every Cuban of every color has the right to oppose the regime, however, they have to understand that they are opposing a revolution which belongs to the people and is for the people. Whoever opposes a revolution like ours is a counter-revolutionary and this person can’t be offended for being labeled as such, as it’s the path that has been drawn out, not by Fidel, like Yusimi said, but by the 97% of the people who can vote, which is a right our Constitution has given us. It is the path towards a prosperous and sustainable socialism which we have worked hard to build in spite of the US blockade and subversion plans that the government of this country pays for with taxpayers’ money.

12 thoughts on “No Way that the Cuban Revolution is Racist

  • Cespedes Ken was a virulent opponent of Spanish rule of Cuba. He declared independence for Cuba on October 10th, 1868. Within a month he had gathered 12,000 volunteers and was then elected President by the revolutionary government. He was shot by Spanish soldiers in 1874. Apparently Cespedes freed his families slaves on October 9th, 1868. Slavery did not end in Cuba until 1886.

  • Well written Mercer Brown!

  • As Elio points out, the revolution of 1958/9 was supposedly for the people and its supposed purpose declared by Fidel Castro Ruz was:
    “There can be no danger if we do WHAT CUBANS WANT, if we provide social practice and solve the substantial social problems of all Cubans, of LIBERTY, OF RESPECT FOR INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS, OF FREEDOM OF THE PRESS AND THOUGHT, OF DEMOCRACY, OF LIBERTY TO SELECT THEIR OWN GOVERNMENT.”
    In light of that statement of the 16th of March 1959, there can be no doubt that Fidel Castro Ruz knew the actual wishes of the people of Cuba. His subsequent actions were to deny those very wishes in his manic pursuit of personal power and control as a communist dictator. He failed the very trust of his fellow Cubans. The revolutionaries of the Sierra Maestra were not all communists, but those who were not like Camilo Cienfuegos and Huber Matos were subsequently eradicated by devious means, jail and the firing squad.

  • I wish to thank everyone who was as outraged as I was with Elio’s disgraceful accusations against me and for their support, as he tried to justify the unjustifiable.
    My position on Cuba and my people wherever they are, is known to many therefore, allowing any opportunist to attempt to tarnish my image will not be allowed. Please allow me to break my rule of thumb and show to the Elio’s of this world what I was doing I was doing 30 years ago.

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    DAR ES SALAAM 107/106 24 1 400 PI/50 ALBERTO JONES,


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  • I must concede your point. In using the expression “the struggle he launched” I was making an assumption about the struggle against slavery in Cuba.
    Would it be fair to say that your criticism is not so much against Cespedes as it is against a narrative that downplays the actual struggle of the slaves and highlights the actions of “white’ Cubans?
    A similar point has been made about the struggle against slavery in the US.

  • “the struggle he launched”? As if those of African descent had been passively accepting their fate all the time before… the problem with the lionisation of Cespedes is that it is part of the Euro-centric narrative that paints Africans as helpless children (or worse, animals) to be raised up by the noble “Whites”. It is as if the murderer who repents is remembered in a greater light than those he murdered.

  • I confess that until this discussion I had never heard of Manuel Cespedes. So I checked him out on Wikipedia, According to their item, while he himself was defeated, the struggle he launched led to to the “…liberation of all slaves and Chinese who had fought with the rebels…”
    Manual Cespedes comes off rather well in the article. If he has his critics, they haven’t succeeded in changing the Wikipedia article.
    What was in his heart? I don’t know, but it appears that his desire for an independent Cuba was stronger than any desire he might have had to live the luxurious life of a slaveowner.
    In any case, he comes in ahead of many of the Founding Fathers of the United States.

  • First off I agree with Mercer’s analysis of Cespedes. I also agree that Black Studies should be instituted for all Cubans and Cuban media needs an overhaul to provide good role models to the people. Where I part company is in his rejection of the historicos. This may be because their time appears to be coming to an end, and he is jostling for who to replace them, lifespans of 1000 years are at least twenty years away. However I fear that he is too entranced by the election of Barack Obama, who incidentally Fidel was an influence on. I personally do not care what colour the skin of the leadership is as long as they are working for the people. Mercer may find the leadership wanting. Euro-centricism is not being challenged enough. I would certainly encourage Cubans of all backgrounds to agitate for a re-alignment of education. However, I do not see the very real and immense challenges facing the Cuban Revolution being handled better by anyone else at this time. In drawing the distinction between “revolutionary nationalism” and “reactionary nationalism” Huey Newton had this warning to say:
    “Papa Doc in Haiti is an excellent example of reactionary nationalism. He oppresses the people but he does promote the African culture. He’s against anything other than black, which on the surface seems very good, but for him it is only to mislead the people. He merely kicked out the racists and replaced them with himself as the oppressor. Many of the nationalists in this country seem to desire the same ends.” – Huey Newton (Founder of the Black Panther Party)

  • Very sad but very true.

  • Denial is the very first reaction in that psychological strategy known as “offense as defense” especialy when racism is exposed. It is the reaction of choice of those who posture as liberals, leftists and what have you when they have nowhere else to run and hide. Elio, however, exceeds all this in spewing utterly ignorant rubbish and making infantile and facile accusations.

    Manuel Cespedes, that monumental hypocrite, worshipped by the historicos did not give diddy to Afro-Cubans! Only equally monumental ignorance and unconscious racist thinking will lead Elio to the belief that slaveowner Cespedes gave “slaves the freedom to choose whether they wanted to fight for their Homeland”! Elio should learn today the meaning of the word CIMARRON and the noble history behind it. Elio should also learn the true meaning of the word MAMBI and the history behind it, including its etymological origin in Congo! Afro-Cubans have always been fighting for their freedom and do not owe Cespedes or the Castros anything!!! The revolution of 1959 was a continuum of the liberation struggles of the Afro-Cubans. As with many revolutions Afro-Cubans have been betrayed despite being its most collective supporters. Elio writes: “the Cuban Revolution belongs to everyone, irrespective of race.” Indeed, indeed, except the leadership belongs to “Gallegos”! FIdel, Raul, Diaz-Canel, Bruno Rodriguez…all the Cancilleres under Fidel and on and on and on. Where are the Afro-Cubans the revolution was so magnanimous 50 years ago to educate? None of them is qualified or worthy enough to be the leader of Cuba or a Foreign Minister or Economics Minister or Defence Minister?

    Cut the bull, Elio. There will never be a Black President of Cuba. It didn’t happen in 50 years of “all people’s revolution” and it won’t happen under the degeneration that passes for reform in Cuba today. A leader that doesn’t trust even his own military and feels only comfortable with his son as Interior Minister and his grand-nephew as his bodyguard cannot be expected to usher in inclusiveness for Afro-Cubans. The Cuban revolution has been racist when it comes to the government of Cuba. Cuban TV controlled by the historicos abundantly reflects this. The case of Guillermo Farinas is a convenient diversion. One cannot use one case to typify an entire race. Let’s talk about the racism in the Cuban government and all its structures. Let’s talk about the absence of black studies and the ignorance and racism that wipe out from Cuban history the contributions of the enslaved Africans and their descendants. Elio’s insulting belief that some common slaveowner who made his fortune from the forced and unpaid labour of the enslaved gave freedom to Afro-Cubans! Elio is the best argument for Black Studies to be instituted for all Cubans.

    Long live the memory of the Cimarrones! Long live the memory of the Maceo brothers! Long live the memory of the Mother Of The Nation, Mariana Grajales! Long live the memory of General José Quintino “Quintín ” Bandera!

  • As Elio accurately describes socialismo , he is outlining the imposition of the Castro belief that:
    My way or the highway (jail).

  • Elio writes “Whoever opposes a revolution like ours is a counter-revolutionary and this person can’t be offended for being labeled as such, as it’s the path that has been drawn out, not by Fidel, like Yusimi said, but by the 97% of the people who can vote, which is a right our Constitution has given us.” On the contrary, being labeled a a counter-revolutionary against the Castros is a badge of honor.

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