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 11, 2020 at 9:15 am

    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.

  • June 11, 2020 at 9:06 am

    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.

  • June 11, 2020 at 8:47 am

    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.

  • June 10, 2020 at 11:26 pm

    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.

  • June 10, 2020 at 2:03 pm

    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.

  • June 10, 2020 at 12:39 pm

    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.

  • June 10, 2020 at 10:02 am

    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.”

  • June 10, 2020 at 2:39 am

    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……..

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *