HAVANA TIMES — After 54 years of Cuba’s revolutionary government being in power — during which time the most radical changes in all of the nation’s history took place, both positive and negative — we’ve begun to take a critical and constructive look at the mistakes made by the government that Fidel Castro turned over to his brother Raul.
However, in the middle of this new “revolution within the revolution,” often mentioned and combated remnants of the past endure. This time these involve the past of that very same 1959 revolution, one under which any opinion against it was suppressed in the name of maintaining an unblemished reputation in the eyes of world public opinion.
This turned into a harmful and habitual vice because of the long period over which it was practiced, though it’s now being severely criticized by President Raul Castro, who encourages Cubans to tell the truth “without fear of reprisal,” to help straighten out what for so long has grown crooked.
Here I’ll refer to the episode of the dismissal of Cuban essayist Roberto Zurbano from his position as director of the Fondo Editorial de Casa de las Americas, one of the most prestigious publishers in the country.
The decision made by the government was taken because of his criticism in the New York Times of racism in Cuba, according to the Diario de Cuba website.
None of the excerpts published by Diario de Cuba of the views of the essayist seemed distant from reality; rather, they came across as brave, even consistent with the appeal for constructive honesty made by Raul Castro.
The lingering of discrimination in Cuba is no secret, despite the campaigns and programs carried out for its elimination. Veiled or open, the exclusion of minorities is a daily practice, many of which are carried out by “a power that’s exercised by individuals who are incapable of restraint,” to paraphrase Ingmar Bergman.
Specifically, the issue of racism, anchored to blacks in Cuba, is a special matter. At this stage of the game, opportunists and extremists are mixed with those who are genuinely interested in the struggle for its elimination, though many of these would find their interests endangered if that ever happened.
Lies, accusations, posturing, low blows and gossip occur whenever people are compelled to speak out in front of those who choose the winners of awards and those allowed to go on trips. The fight against racism in Cuba isn’t exempt from all this.
Given this state of affairs — it’s not outrageous to mention that the government has been “unable to overcome” racism — it’s time to lay it on the line.
I wish to express my support for Roberto Zurbano and with all those who are persecuted for their courage to speak the truth about what they honestly believe in and who fight for a more just society.