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.

Lynn Cruz

It's not art that imitates life, its life that imitates art," said Oscar Wilde. And art always goes a step further. I am an actress and writer. For me, art, especially writing, is a way of exorcising demons. It is something intimate. However, I decided to write journalism because I realized that I did not exist. In Cuba, only the people authorized by the government have the right to express themselves publicly. Havana Times is an example of coexistence within a democracy and since I consider myself a democrat, my dream is to integrate this publication’s philosophy into the reality of my country.

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

  • June 14, 2020 at 12:02 pm

    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.

  • June 12, 2020 at 10:11 am

    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.

  • June 11, 2020 at 4:41 pm

    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.

  • June 11, 2020 at 12:42 pm

    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.

  • June 11, 2020 at 12:23 pm

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

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