Racism in the USA, Discrimination for Political Reasons in Cuba

By Lynn Cruz

HAVANA TIMES – When I woke up, the first news of the day was that Cuban political prisoner, Silverio Portal, was left blind in the eye after a beating in prison. A couple days before, the video of a white cop with his knee on the neck of George Floyd, 46, went viral.

Floyd died in the 21st century lynched by a racist. His last words were: “I can’t breathe.” As I write, that phrase rings in my ears, amid the crisis that has generated the strange mutation of the Covid-19 virus that also causes suffocation.

Protestors in Minneapolis, the US city where the crime occurred, and others around the country and even abroad, demand that justice be done. They demand that the four police officers be held accountable after the authorities’ initial ambiguous statements regarding the incident.

A long list of homicides of this type preceded the murder of Floyd, which shows that this is not an isolated case and what makes the difference is the graphic video. The power to capture the moment without later manipulating the facts.

I put a post on my Facebook wall with these same images and wrote: “Two men, one from the US, George Floyd; Another Cuban, Silverio Portal, both are victims of abuse of power and discrimination.

Floyd was killed by racist police; Portal lost vision in one eye after a beating in prison, he suffers political discrimination. Why can Cubans speak fluently about racism in the United States and clearly criticize the US judicial system? Because there is an acknowledgment in that country that there is a problem.

Why can’t Cubans see clearly the injustice committed against Portal? Because in Cuba the existence of political prisoners is denied. It is not recognized that there is a problem, that all Cubans do not think the same way. The first injustice has a face, that of a policeman; the second doesn’t because it is systemic, it is an individual against an authoritarian power.”

Immediately the reactions were noticed. It caught my attention that the majority of the opinions were from Cubans who do not live in Cuba and the ideas fell on racism. Many condemned the injustice against Portal, but there is still a lack of real understanding of a phenomenon that dates back to the very beginning of the revolutionary triumph with the execution or long sentences of opponents.

This is a message that David Díaz left me in the post: “I knew of your position against the Revolution, but you have to be heartless and ill-intentioned to make such a vile comparison and manipulation. I hope you have been well paid. Ungratefulness can be unlimited, in your case it is, and it’s a pity, so young and well educated in this beautiful, humane and supportive creation. It would be hard to find someone more ungrateful”.

In Cuba, contrary ideas must be swept away with filth. Accusing me of being paid for saying what I think, in addition to all the adjectives, only aims to turn me into trash. That is exclusion, isolation, discrimination. It is changing my voice, distorting it. It means stripping my ideas of cleanliness, just like what happened with Silverio Portal.

Portal has been in prison since 2018 for alleged crimes of public disorder and contempt of Fidel and Raul Castro. His health is delicate. The sentence is four years. Through another prisoner, Diario de Cuba learned that he received the beating at the hands of prison guards.

Political rejection determines social position. The best paid jobs in Cuba belong to the Ministry of Tourism. Many tour guides, for example, are members of the Communist Party. In any workplace, to move up you will have to prove the ideological loyalty that does not question.

Independent workers, since they must be supplied on the illicit market, in the absence of an alternative, are controlled through this illegality generated by the Government itself. Teachers are required to be absolutely aligned, just as university students feel threatened by exemplary expulsions.

The names of Laura Pollan, Oswaldo Paya, both deceased in strange circumstances; Orlando Zapata another who died in prison because of his ideals; the scientist Ariel Ruiz Urquiola, who was also inoculated with HIV in a prison; the severity that Xiomara Blanco suffered, due to a bacterium that she acquired in prison; All these names add to the long list of people damaged in these 61 years. It is time to articulate movements against political hatred in Cuba.

29 thoughts on “Racism in the USA, Discrimination for Political Reasons in Cuba

  • It is now some sixty years(60) since the revolution, supposedly to free the people of Cuba from corruption and tyranny. The revolution replaced one tyrant with another, say the average age of those who took part was twenty, well they would be eighty now, and heaven knows why they still appear to have faith in the Castro inspired regime, now surely the youngsters who have been born say in the 1990s must realise if change is to come peacefully rather than another military revolution, then they are the ones to make change happen? to make change happen you must want it to happen and do something about it? surely the end must be somewhere in sight for the repressive regime that holds sway in Cuba? or am I being a tad naive here, and yes I have been to Cuba several times, granted as a tourist, but I also took time to visit local shops in Santiago de Cuba and Moron as well as Havana and quite honestly I felt ashamed that those in charge are treating their own countrymen in this way.

  • I was in Cuba long before you Moses. And drop the histrionics. The USA,s record is 10xs worse. I don,t have the time to spoon feed you the history.

  • Mr MacD.
    You’re not actually reading what it is that I’m writing or you are not processing the points I’m making. It’s either the one or the other. Maybe both.

  • For those who have read your contributions to Havana Times, it will come as no surprise that you are yet again trying to excuse the sins of those extreme left Communists “perfectly decent people” who support totalitarian repressive rule, as if they compared with those of democratic conservative opinion. That Nick remains the difference between us.
    I condemn both Communism and Fascism because they are totalitarian and both have an evil history. But you endeavour to excuse the excesses of the extreme Socialist left wing supporters of Communism, as if it is more acceptable to be imprisoned, enslaved (Gulags both Soviet and Chinese) or executed by one rather than the other.
    I note with a degree of amusement, your usual “let-out” insertion in your final paragraph. So I add my own:
    I wouldn’t suggest for a moment that all Socialists are likely to side with Communism and the Far-Left, but plenty do – both historically and as evidenced currently.

  • Right on. That is why I was asked: “When you are able to return, bring food.”

  • In no way do I endeavour to belittle. But I do like to establish facts.
    I loathe some of the acts carried out in the name of Communism but I would not bracket it with Fascism.
    I have met plenty of perfectly decent people who state that they are Communists both in Cuba and elsewhere.
    I’ve never met a Fascist who I have ever got on well with.
    I only refer to the links between Conservatism and Fascism because these two ‘isms have had a habit of dovetailing and intertwining over the past century and more. I’m not going to list (again) all the well known companies who in the past connived with Fascism or who used Jewish slave labour in the 30s/40s. I’m not going to list the many right wing conservatives and right wing media who were supportive of Fascism.
    If anyone is interested, they can google the facts of the matter.
    More recently we see right wing conservatives in the USA joining with the Far Right in blaming the protests in the wake of the killing of George Floyd on some kind of leftist insurrection.
    Here in the U.K. (Bristol) a statue of some old capitalist slave trader was pulled down and chucked in the water. This was somewhat fitting as being chucked in the water was the fate of Slaves who didn’t survive the crossing to The Americas. This downing of the statue was mentioned in The Reverend Al Sharpton’s moving address at George Floyd’s funeral.
    And here in the U.K. guess who are in harmony in their condemnation of the outrageous maltreatment of an old slave trader’s statue?
    Yes, it’s the Right Wing Conservatives and the Far Right Fascistic Mob.
    I wouldn’t suggest for one minute that all Capitalists or Conservatives are likely to side with Fascism and The Far Right but plenty do. Both historically and currently.

  • Excellent debate. Unfortunately, I fell out of my chair with Dan’s comment “…the comparatively small infractions of the Cuban state…”. Compared to what? Nazi Germany? Dante’s Inferno? Unless “Dan” is a pseudonym and he really is an agent with Castro’s Ministry of Information (Department of Propaganda), I am pretty sure he has not spent much time in Cuba, if any. Even Castro sycophants, after a few hours in line waiting for chicken or potatoes, quickly come to see the failings of the Castro socialist model.

  • Olga, of course you hate your country. You fervently agree with decades of policies by Superpower USA to cause hardship and even death to your fellow citizens, for the sole, and I would add, acknowledged purpose of creating discontent and regime change. It’s in the historical record. Who would do that if they didn’t hate their country? By the way, from your little Hialeah, I don’t know how much you really know about the Yuma, but I suggest your listen to your American Fascist brethern, such as Mark Levine, Micheal Savage, Rush Limbaugh, or Dear Leader. Anyone who criticizes american foreign policy, wars, racism, environmental degradation, inequality, is uniformly labeled Anti-American or America hater. I know many, many Caimaneros who would call you the same.

  • I have to agree with your much repeated view Nick that I consider communism evil. That however does not mean that one considers all political alternatives good, although practically all multi-party forms are preferable. Fascism being totalitarian, is also evil and that is why I have frequently linked its practices to those of communism.
    I well understand that you whilst apparently loath to condemn all aspects of communism, do so with fascism. You may also have noted that I differenciate between democratic socialism and the “socialismo” practiced by the Castros. The recent re-hash of the Cuban Constitution was an endeavour by Raul Castro Ruz who wrote it, to persuade the outside world that Cuba is socialist, by replacing the word communist with socialist. But as it commenced by declaring that Cuba is a one-party state that party being the Communist Party of Cuba, was somewhat fruitless although it may have fooled political innocents or the mindless.
    It is you who in your endeavours to belittle, choose to use good v evil repetitively when responding to my posts and also to attach conservatism which is democratic, to fascism which is not. But it obviously makes you feel good.

  • Mr MacD,
    You like to deal with things in a grand old good vs evil fashion. I don’t.
    Did I mention anything about European countries post USSR abandoning multi party elections ?
    No. I didn’t say that at all. Not whatsoever.
    I don’t recommend that anyone votes for Communist Parties or former Communist Parties under a slightly different name. From my own personal point of view I would prefer that people didn’t vote for Conservative/Facist hybrid politicians who you seem to deny the existence of. But ultimately, folks in former ‘Eastern Bloc’ countries can vote for whoever the hell they want to vote for.
    But Mr MacD, I am referring to reality and facts.
    What I said was ‘Since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the demise of the USSR, various Eastern Bloc Countries have at some stage re-elected their Communist Party, re-elected the same Communist Party under a different name, re-elected the same Communist politicians standing for a party of a different name etc.’
    You seem, once again, to be stating that the opposite is the case. You merely refer to a popular misconception propagated by the ubiquitous capitalist media machine.
    I have previously gone through and listed the countries one by one on this HT comments forum the last time this topic cropped up.
    I don’t really wish to go all through that googling again.
    Albania, Bulgaria, Poland, Romania spring to mind but, as I say, please consult Mr Google on a country by country basis and check out who has been elected post 1989.

    Sweeping statements are all very well and good but sweeping historical fact under the rug is different gravy.

  • So please list which of the thirteen countries that gained freedom as a consequence of the implosion of the communist USSR has actually elected a communist government? Which countries have abandoned multi-party elections in favour of communism?
    Although it is popular to refer to the fall of the Berlin wall, the fall of the Iron Curtain which stretched across the whole of Europe from the Baltic in the north to the Black Sea in the south, was probably of greater significance to many more millions who gained freedom.

  • Lynn
    I think your article is very telling and truthful. I have cycled toured across Cuba a few times and have seen some of the inequalities in your country. A Cuban expat I know told me that after she left Cuba she realized Cuba was like a mirror to what George Orwell had written in Animal Farm: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

  • There is definitely a cyclical element to the comments here. This matter has been covered before.
    My point is always going to be this:
    The interests of those who seek only to criticise Cuba would be better served if they stuck with the facts. Now obviously facts can be interpreted in different ways. But sometimes we see what would appear to be a misinterpretation.
    In the interest of respecting the factual it is worth mentioning that following has been previously established in HT comments:
    Since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the demise of the USSR, various Eastern Bloc Countries have at some stage re-elected their Communist Party, re-elected the same Communist Party under a different name, re-elected the same Communist politicians standing for a party of a different name etc.
    This has been commonplace.
    I know that contributors have strong views and like to back up their views with big sweeping statements, but it is important to be respectful of the facts.
    If anyone doubts these facts, then they should perhaps consult Mr Google……..

  • So tell us Dan, why given the opportunity offered, have they not elected communist governments? What did you think Dan about those typical communist living blocks that now stand deserted in the former East Germany?

    You are correct that Hungary,Czech Republic, Slovakia and the now independent countries that were formerly known as Yugoslavia are not horrible, but in general are quite beautiful. None of that beauty is a consequence of communism. As a consequence of the implosion of the USSR, the peoples of those countries now enjoy the freedom which so many of their countrymen and women, died trying to escape the repression of communism. I do have first hand experience of that!

    When it was “hammered” into your brain that those countries were “horrible places” you were being taught the truth. For under the communist system the people suffered oppression and dictation which overcame the beauty of their surroundings, with fear ever-lurking.

  • Obviously Dan, you have failed to read my comments about Trump, even although his mother was a Scot.

    Your problem is that your mind cannot stretch beyond the mental shackles of 19th century Marxist theory, and obviously are unable to handle the hideous reality that is well proven in practice, Marxism is an oppressive belief and a failure. That is why in open elections communist parties cannot get elected. In the 2019 election in Canada, the Communist Party candidates combined total was 0.02% of the total vote.

    If you loved Cuba and its people, then you would support freedom rather than the repressive regime you so admire.

    May I suggest that you not only re-read Lynn Cruz’s article, but take time to digest the content and reflect upon your folly.

  • Carlyle. The Scottish Trump.

  • Actually, polls , rarely mentioned in the US, have shown that many people in the old East Bloc felt their lives were better in the “Socialist” system, Brad. I don’t have too much first hand experience, but I do have some. I lived in Berlin in the 80’s and would take the U-Bahn to East Germany. I have also spent some time in Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia as well. They sure did not seem to be the horrible places that had been hammered into my brain since birth from people who had never set foot there, or spoke the language. So, Brad, where are you getting your info from ?

  • You sink to a new low Dan when you describe Lynn Cruz and those who agree with her views based upon her life time of experience as “all you Cuba haters”. Those of us who criticize and detest the Castro communist regime and the reality of its practices – some of which are factually described by Lynn Cruz, do so because we love Cuba and its people. Our wish is for freedom from all tyranny.

    One grows weary and bored of the use by Castro sycophants like yourself Dan, of the repetitive argument that things are possibly even worse elsewhere than in Cuba. No doubt you think that Silverio Portal was fortunate to retain one eye. Merely one of a multitude of “a comparatively small infractions”.

    Let me also give you a name – of one who executed 78 people without trial in one day: Raul Castro Ruz

  • Yes Lynn. Anything I write is open. Thank you for the hug!

  • Ask the people in Eastern Europe if they enjoyed the communism tyranny they lived under for decades and are jumping to reinstall them.
    Obviously it’s clearly no.

  • Dan Mitrone – there’s a man you don’t hear much mention of these days…….
    Appparently, Mitrone’s motto was ‘The precise pain, in the precise place, in the precise amount, for the desired effect’.
    Witnesses state that CIA man, Mitrone set up a kind of ‘school of torture’ in the soundproofed cellar of his Montevideo home. It was stated by a Cuban born CIA colleague (amongst other witnesses) that Mitrone would have completely innocent homeless beggars rounded up and used for showcasing his torture techniques. They would be used for practicing electrocution methods until dead.
    Terror and disregard of human life beyond any comprehension.

  • Dan I do not hate my country. You seem indoctrínated by the Cuban government, the dictatorship of the Castro family is not Cuba.
    Go and ask ppl in any ex communist country if they want to go back. If the Cuban government has the support of the ppl why are they so afraid Of a “little” opposition?!?!

  • One name for all you Cuba haters who love to harp the comparatively small infractions of the Cuban state, struggling to defend itself from a superpower: D a n M i t r o n e.

  • There is a lack of knowledge of the police state the oppression/racism that occurs in Cuba.
    Cuba simply is not under the microscope like the bigger countries are.
    Social media/TV plays a big part as well and autocratic regimes like Cuba can control these things to a greater extent.
    Most people I meet when they think of Cuba it’s just the beach, rum and cigars.

  • Hi. Carlyle, I have no words to say thank you for this comment, specially for the Silverio Portal injustice. “In the Kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is King. He has to feel very proud for it. I’m going to send this message since my Facebook wall if you give me your permission of course.

  • Hi Nick, I didn’t know all the details. It could be great to say maybe was racism. Thanks for clarifying this. Is hard to talk about justice because we know that it doesn’t exist, that’s why it was determínate to have the video and also the witnesses. Is a shame that Portal just have witnesses but they are also prisoners and in consequence they have not voice.

  • Hi Carlyle, I have no words for your thoughtful comment. I really appreciate this, specially for the Silverio Portal injustice. Hugs. Lynn

  • Lynn writes compelling and polemical articles which always provoke comments and expressions of differing points of view.
    One or two observations:
    There is an assumption that George Floyd’s killer is a ‘racist’ or that his death was a ‘racist killing’. That may well be the case. But bear in mind that both Mr Floyd and the cop that killed him worked as security personnel at the same nightspot so there may well be some aspect which has not come to light yet.
    Alternatively it may simply come to light, that like other U.S. cops (a minority), this particular killer was in fact an admirer of the KKK or had other fascist style allegiance or indoctrination or was just a casual or subconscious racist.
    At the moment we don’t know.
    Although to some extent politicised, the U.S Justice System remains at least as robust as that of Cuba if not more so. So let’s wait and see what the outcome is…..
    Whatever the outcome is, it is irrefutable that a certain percentage of U.S. cops are racists.

    Cuban cops can also be racist. They engage in blatant racial profiling even if sometimes entirely casual or subconscious.

    But there is a big fat dividing line between racially inspired malpractice and malpractice carried out for political purposes. There seems to be no doubt that certain malpractices in Cuba are carried because of a political or nationalistic agenda. In these cases there is no footage. Nothing on YouTube.
    The same applies to similar malpractice carried out by U.S. operatives. I have met people who state unequivocally that they have been tortured and beaten by and/or in the presence of CIA or other U.S. operatives entirely for political reasons or purposes.
    Whether it is perpetrated in the USA, Cuba or anywhere else, policing malpractice (in the case of Mr Floyd – lethal malpractice) can potentially appear on YouTube.
    But what goes on behind closed doors does not. It remains secret.
    But there is a huge difference between the malpractice of individual Police Officers and malpractice which is entirely deliberate, orchestrated and politically motivated.
    These are two different types of malpractice.

  • Another excellent article Lynn Cruz.

    I particularly respected your decision to include the abusive message from David Diaz, which so accurately reflects his absorbing the indoctrination and mindless propaganda of the Castro regime. It is that deliberate endeavor to separate those who think for themselves as individuals, from the “mass” that the regime tries to mold in its own image, that he demonstrates.

    Dissenters in Cuba have to have courage, for they are exposed to a regime that has no respect for human rights and the freedom of the individual. Brave souls, they tread a difficult path as they seek to lift their eyes to the distant horizon of freedom.

    Those last words of George Floyd, “I can’t breathe.” have been adapted into: “Get your knee off my neck.” That message is as fully justified in Cuba as it is in the US.

    In solace, one can only offer to Silverio Portal that: “In the Kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is King.”

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