‘The Revolution Made Blacks Human’

By Yusimí Rodríguez

May Day 2009 - photo: Elio Delgado
May Day 2009 - photo: Elio Delgado

HAVANA TIMES, Nov. 2 – Three years ago I was still working at a national newspaper.  On the afternoon of July 31, 2006, the Cuban people learned of the sudden illness of President Fidel Castro – at least it was sudden for most of us.

The party that had been planned for the following day at the newspaper was of course canceled.   So around mid-morning that day, after having translated a couple of news items for the paper’s webpage, I was sitting in the lounge with a group of co-workers.  This was a common practice when we had a little free time.

That day, though, all of the comments revolved around the state of health of the commander-in-chief; there was speculation and uncertainty about the future of the country.

One of the co-workers sitting with us talked about how his neighbors were throwing a party when the leader’s illness was publically reported.  I wasn’t clear if the party simply coincided with the news or if it was the very reason for the celebration.

My co-worker -assuming the position that we’ve been trained to assume in circumstances like that- told how he went over to his neighbor’s house to chew out the mother.

The late Cuban artist Belkis Ayon.  Photo: Caridad
The late Cuban artist Belkis Ayon. Photo: Caridad

This same comrade, who holds one of the most important positions at the paper and is a member of the Communist Party, had fought in the underground risking his life in the 1950s struggle against the Fulgencio Batista dictatorship – despite his privileged position in our country as a “blanco hijo de ricos”  (white son of rich people).

I learned about all that as he delivered his dissertation standing up in the lounge of the newspaper.  His authority -according to him- also came from having walked several kilometers daily from his house to his job in fulfillment of his duty during the most difficult years of the “Special Period” economic crisis that began in the early 90s.

He didn’t mention that this was exactly what many Cubans had done back then, not out of heroism but because they had to earn and “live” off their salary.  The alternatives in those days consisted of spending hours at a bus stop or getting around on a bike, assuming you had accumulated sufficient merit to deserve one from your job or you could pay the fortune needed to buy one.

The crowning point of my co-worker’s monologue was the moment he said that if he -the white son of rich people- had been able to sacrifice then blacks had to do the same, because “the Revolution had allowed blacks to become people.”

I didn’t know if the guy had something else to add, because I cut into him calling him a racist, among other things.  It turned into pretty ugly argument, over which he finally chose to retreat into his office.

Havana barrio scene.  Photo: Caridad
Havana barrio scene. Photo: Caridad

He did the right thing because I don’t know how that exchange would have ended.  I now regret not having maintained the necessary calm or even having shown the maturity to hold that discussion in a more civil tone.  Respect is not achieved through violence.

However, not only black people, but everyone who due to the color of their skin, their gender, their sexual orientation or even what the dominant spheres consider an incorrect ideological orientation, is subject to some form of discrimination.

‘Ignorance is Strength’

We are told, from the time we begin studying the history of Cuba, that our revolutionary process is a singular one.  We are told that it began on October 10, 1868, with the uprising led by Carlos Manuel de Cespedes at the La Demajagua sugar mill after he granted freedom to his slaves and appealed to them to join the freedom struggle.

But could Cespedes have initiated the war while retaining his property and slaves?  Without denying his upright and abolitionist character, it was not solely a moralistic decision to free the slaves, keeping in mind they would represent a significant number within the Liberation Army and that they also struggled for their own freedom. They had little to lose and a great deal to gain.

Gearing up for a July 26 celebration.  Photo: Caridad
Gearing up for a July 26 celebration. Photo: Caridad

What would have happened if the slaves had decided to decline the invitation, in addition to all other the blacks and “mulatos” who participated in the conflict?  The independence forces would have been composed only of the white Creole landowners of the island.  Instead, blacks did fight in the war, barefoot and half-naked and suffering incidents of racism even within the Liberation Army.

In 1898, as the US government prepared to intervene in the “Spanish-American War,” eighty percent of the Liberation Army consisted of blacks and mestizos, according to the book “A People’s History of the United States,” by Professor Howard Zinn. He provided this fact as being one of the concerns of the American elites confronted with the possibility of the Mambises independence fighters triumphing in Cuba and establishing another black republic, similar to Haiti’s.

In “The History of Cuba,” which I studied in junior high and high school, brushstroke mention is made of the Independent Party of Color, founded on August 7, 1908. It emerged principally due to the distain and scorn that the black veterans of the war of independence were subjected to under the US-dominated neo-colonial republic.

The Independent Party of Color was led by Evaristo Estenoz, and one of its main actions was the “Armed Uprising of the Independents of Color.”  Though they put forward the most advanced program of the time, I still don’t recall the teacher ever mentioning them even when I again studied the history of Cuba at the university.

Perhaps there wasn’t enough time.  We only get a semester on the subject during the first year of the program, so I suppose it was necessary to zip through the content and focus on what’s considered the most important.  But important to whom?

Every November 27, the entire country commemorates the 1871 shooting of eight Cuban medical students by Spanish colonialists.  That same day a group of black members of the secret African-inspired Abakuá fraternity died in the attempt to prevent that massacre.

But this is not a fact raised by the official news sources in our country, at least not to date.  I wasn’t told about this when I studied history in primary school or secondary school or at the university.  So far I haven’t even seen it in the public-service program “Este Día,” which is dedicated to historical anniversaries.

Taking a break in Old Havana.  Photo: Caridad
Taking a break in Old Havana. Photo: Caridad

I learned about this a couple years ago when a friend commented that he had been invited to participate in an exhibit organized by a group of youth to commemorate the historic event.  My friend also learned about those Abakuá at that time.  I never found out if they were able to hold the exhibit.

One of the people involved in the idea was Mario Castillo, and it was through his article published in the magazine “Caminos” that I found detailed information about the Abakuá members who also died on November 27, 1871.

The Revolution’s Burden

What is it that we blacks must infer from the comment of my former co-worker – that fighter against the Batista dictatorship, this eminent journalist, a member of the Communist Party of Cuba?  That black people possess dignity thanks only to the victory of the Revolution?

What’s the message?  That whites were already people prior to the Revolution, contrary to blacks?  Or that white people can even oppose the government; they can decide not to continue sacrificing, but black people can’t because “the Revolution allowed blacks to become people”?  Enough questions come to my mind to fill the page, but that’s not the objective.

To feel ourselves in debt to something or someone limits our freedom of thought, opinion and action is a form of restricting our rights.  A debt is a stone around one’s neck.  But what happens if we are taught that even the fact of being human is owed to someone or a certain process.

Havana street scene.  Photo: Caridad
Havana street scene. Photo: Caridad

My former co-worker’s statement implies that this applies not only to all black people who now live in the country, but even future generations are people only thanks to the Revolution. Therefore, even before coming into the world we are in an inferior position regarding other people; we have an eternal debt and therefore less or no right to protest or to be in disagreement with the powers that be.

There are things, however, that are real, and cannot be denied.  There remain a litany of race-related problems: the greatest number of people in our jails are black, the patterns of marginality continue prevailing among the black population in our country, black people continue being the most socially and economically disadvantaged, mainly black citizens are stopped by the police for ID checks with no explicit reason (the police do not need a justification to request to check someone’s ID s card).

I could add that despite the fact that any black person in the company of a foreigner is considered a “jinetero” (hustler or prostitute), it’s not necessary for the companion to be a foreigner – they need only have white skin.  Once I was at the beach with a white-skinned Cuban friend, and a policeman asked for my ID because he thought that she was foreign.

Junior High Students in Havana.  Photo: Caridad
Junior High Students in Havana. Photo: Caridad

Though the conditions of life of most of people are better than those before 1959, that improvement didn’t occur only among the black population.  Can anyone feel within their right to affirm that Cubans are people thanks to the Revolution?

On many occasions, the leaders of the country have been forced to recognize that despite their struggle to eradicate it in our country, and even with the achievements attained in this respect, examples of racism still survive in Cuban society.

It is understandable that it’s impossible to eliminate in 50 years what had been practiced for four hundred.  But what’s really scary is to hear similar expressions coming from the very mouth of a member of the Communist Party of Cuba, because this leads one to wonder what is the vision of our leaders regarding we blacks, and it even makes one question whether the true motivation of their efforts was to improve the quality of life of this group.

However, the most alarming and saddest thing in this whole incident was not in hearing a member of the Party use such a pejorative expression, but that two other black people present didn’t react when the comment was made, not even during the argument.  They later told me, “You’re right, but it’s better to be quiet.  It’s not good to attract attention.”

50 thoughts on “‘The Revolution Made Blacks Human’

  • Something had barely change about the blacks in Cuba but, why are the prisons full of them? and the historically poor barrios full of blacks? Why was the Mariel experience a black experience? that was clear “No los queremos, no los necesitamos!. The roots of this evil was for the african to allowed the european in the first place to enslave their brothers and sister, and the cubans were and are no very trusting as far as race and class are concerned. They better do a good soul searching!




  • I met Humberto in Havana in 2009 New Year’s day. He spoke better English than any other Cuban i met and some of them taught English. Humberto worked in a school as a janitor. He is black as coal and eloquent as a poet; his grammar is better than mine as his Jamaican grandmother taught him the old style. Why is this man not teaching conversational English, I thought. Here
    is a case of under-utilized human resources, probably because of color as my poor friend was the butt of jokes and ridicule among his peers who were also folks of color, but not quite so dark. The Americas were fukt over by capitalism in so many ways we may never escape the nasty legacy. Humberto’s case brought home to me the realization that even socialist countries cannot rid themselves of the inhumane legacy of the psychosis of racism.
    Latin America has a better chance of living beyond racism than does Amelika Hui Pu (USA in Hawaiian), but it must cease imitating the worse aspects of Uncle SAMpire.

  • Now back to color..if the OTHER CUBAN would allow the African to live as OTHERS do there would not be a discussion about race? We are what we are and its time to get over it

  • Very well expressed, Yusimi. And this is the only way to deal with problems and achieve some change: we have to talk about them. Here in USA, many people still do not call our current President by his high office title, which is a disrespectful attitude towards themselves, because he was elected by the majority in free elections. And you see that on tv, openly. Some of them would rather die than call him President Obama. The words simply cannot sort out of their mouths.
    By the way, Fulgencio Batista was black, and for some that fact was also a reason -not the only or main- why many white rich guys fought against his dictatorship.

  • To all who do not like my calling the Prez prez..get over it..most of us have..He is fortunate if he is called anything but?

  • To Alberto N.Jones.. you grew up in Oriente? that doesn’t exist anymore?so did I .. what 400 years? you know I began reading our history. Cuba has always been deep up in the Yankee’s nalgas. All things American are to be looked to and imitated. It appears we come to this country and chose sides.Either the gringos or the blacks. Well, as we get older we realize that you cannot run away from who you are. We are Cubans. No matter what. My mother wants nothing to do with Cuba..she parrots that “deese is my contry now” ok mom..not me.. it is not the Cuba I left..but it was one memorable existence from birth to 61/2 years of age. I remember a lot because my life was “rich” in love, and family and food and fiestas. I went to the Wilmington School in Puerto Padre, Oriente.I learned how to do math and read by age 5. I was happy. I also heard the gunfire around 1955.
    I am home sick. I am sick of certain arrogant Cubans here in America. I am not a black american and stopped trying to be…

  • As far as my own people? when they start that am a Gallego stuff.. I roll my eyes and laugh..so ? so is my grandfather–and grandmother (Canary Islands) oh yeah that’s north of north Africa..my other grandmother looks mighty Hatuey Indian to me..so my sister whose father is a black american from S. Carolina, comes out with straight blonde hair and hazel eyes.. so who is the negro here? who is the African American..please. Cubans look at her who has nothing to do with Cuba and say she looks Cuban, and I don’t ?excuse me.., Oh I am too sophisticated..too fashionable.silly- true I didn’t know there were all those super black Cubans until recently, I was looking at a video…my mouth fell open.. oh I thought that is why Americans are prescribing that Afro-Cuban label. I say destroy it. We are CUBANS PERIOD. We are either educated or not. But the chasm of difference is NOT cultural like black and whites in America two societies separate and unequal. Read the book. Racist? all of us.

  • Continued and clarification of hair. Hair will be an issue, has been an issue and if it weren’t so Beyonce would not spend one million dollars to ensure that her nappy hair is never perceived. That is how serious this racism has become. Enough to make brown skinned girls , have their photos lightened, enough to lie to the public so that they can be seen as less black -by comments such as am “Creole” etc. Hair is also sexually attractive and needed in the entertainment business if the starlet wants to be seen as a sex symbol..so ask yourselves, then why is Halle Berry so beautiful with her short cropped hair? well Halle never made a big deal about her white mother, and Halle actually looks very east Indian. She made it to the top being a “black girl” as green eyed Tyra Banks would say. Bottom line it has become a mental sickness . Farrakhan was right..to live in America is to be psychotic.As far as “White” people feeling superior? not around me they don’t..

  • continued…Last so that you know.. phenotype is the expression of a genetic random selection. genotype is the gene that has information that will develop you outside coloring. You can be jet black and carry a recessive gene for blue eyes. (Not expressed). You can look like Barbara Bush and carry a gene with selection for any so called African feature. It is hidden. What we are called depends on the political structure. In America there is de facto and de jure institutionalized rascism. You really , really need to understand that. I t forces ANYONE with 1/8 negro blood to be classified as black or whatever term is in vogue. There are no mulattos anymore in America. That was a political, maneuver to keep them marginalized. To understand better then, Gloria Estefan would be a negro here and a mulata in Cuba and currently is just “Cuban.” Hope this helped. Oh and on the hair remark I made?

  • continued ..like slaves. If hair is nappy put on ,cowrie shells, lock it, braid it , wear it in an afro, put as beautiful turban on it. Read. Stop following European history. Build great things.Do great things. Go volunteer. Do daring things. Dare to be great. Look intelligent, Act intelligent. Stop being loud and obnoxious. Stop being so aggressive in the wrong place.

    I 2009 the Masai in Kenya still look beautiful. When you see Africans starving wearing hand me down Nike’s, and Ralph Lauren shirts, you should understand well what imperialism means.

  • My goodness! first a person with a PH.D writes “prez” I don’t think so. Let me see I am a late comer hmm where do I fit in? Hmm well I left prior to the Revolution. 2. I am still a permanent resident BY CHOICE. 3. My mother looks like Obama’s mom. She is Cuban of course. My dad looks like Obama’s dad. Hmmm. guess am not a black American and neither is Obama. He is an American whose father was Kenyan. Well since we left dad in Havana, because he vacationed in Florida in 1947 and would not be served in a Restaurant -he said no way.
    The family I grew up with is rather white..lol- I am gloriously brown cinnamon, love my skin color love my hair..get mad don’t care it’s long and beautiful..now why was I trying to be a “black american” for the longest? oh yeah they used to insult me when I was a child ..you know how “dey do”..well I grew up and became a cultural anthropologist. Guess what? darker people suffer in India, Romania et al. How do you overcome that? Stop acting like…

  • Senor Daughtery There can be no peace between u and me..i do not care for your insinuations and covert manner of putting the Cuban people down….When may i ask have u been to Haiti?

  • Milagros, you may have missed the point I was trying to make in bringing up the film “Invictus” with regard to the article by Yusimi. The film is relevant on the general question of “dealing with or healing the wounds of racism.” It high-lights the struggle of Nelson Mandela to try and lessen the bitterness of the past through sports.

    A major idea that I think is brought out in the film is that the process of building national unity is an on-going process that requires a great deal of work and struggle–especially in South Africa. Mandela used rugby to attenuate the racial bitterness of both whites, blacks and others. He had to struggle against those in the ANC who only wanted retribution, and against those Afrikanners who were knotted up with fear and racial arrogance.

    It’s a film that illustrates one great leader’s genius and struggle, and it’s well worth seeing . . . peace

  • Whose cheers dude..yours? so now its patting obeself on the back..AGAIN.. LOL NOT! the movie was a dud and those who overstand overstand why..kind of like another racist movie u would like AVATAR..read my thoughts about that one..peace

  • Well, Invictus is “my” pick for Best Pic Oscar. This is not to say however that its a perfect film, by any measure.

    It is very narrowly focused. A great deal is glossed over, and there are lots of things in the screenplay that make me wish a more gifted and politically-conscious writer had been given the gig. Also, as you may know, the director Clint Eastwood is a Republican, and one can expect that he filtered the screenplay from his particular political point of view. (Maybe that’s why they gave the directorial gig to him, a Republican!)

    Even so, I appreciate the film for what it does and can do for the massively-brainwashed and brain-deadened US people. Most of the younger generation don’t even know who Mandela is, or even what apartheid was. The film reaches the younger generation on some level, and this is a plus.

    So, Milagros, deprecate the film if you must. It’s no Forrest Gump, but I believe it’s good enough for a round of applause. Cheers.

  • The movie is just HOLLYWOODS and although Morgan is the best..This does not deserve and Oscar and he will not get one..However he will be nominated..
    Nelson Mandela, and i sat sown together in SA in 1991 and again in Cuba later that yr, and believe me he has not overcome racism, what he has done is come to an understanding as to why many Euro men still believe they are the chosen ones, and that they can continue to TRY” to dominate..My culture is the fastest growing in the US, and because of this there will be a lot of people jumping onboard claiming to be from a Spanish speaking country in the future (similar to claim native indigenous back then).. Racism is here to stay.Obama did not change anything up there and Nelson did not change anything over there in SA. What he did do was make white men LOOK at themselves in the mirror and puke..Similar to what Martin Luther King did.

    Kuchichakalia Happy Kwanza !!

    Ps My family and many Afro Cubans here celebrate Kwanza..vs St nick…

  • Hello, again, everyone. On the subject of dealing with racism, I just want to tell you that my family and I just saw the newly-released film “Invictus,” and it’s excellent. Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon are perfectly cast, Clint Eastwood directs superbly, and we the audience are red-handed from too much applause.

    You’ll want to see this terrific film. If it doesn’t get the Oscar for Best Pix, I’ll . . . break furniture!

    Merry Christmas and a socialist New Year to all.

  • Damien noone misunderstood you, in fact i am very clear..U are like me u are my brother and i believe that it is u who have me wrong? Now since this dialogue has gotten old, perhaps you can meet me at facebook and there we can continue this in a more progressive manner..See u there..My name is the same

  • @Diana Brooks..What is with the N word? Who are you what kind of educated and or informed person uses words like that in an honest debate?. Sounds to me as if you would do well to rethink the use of the N word as it is offensive and shows IGNORANCE. Its as bad as being called Black, colored, negro, prieto, mulato negrito etc..Entiendes? Thanks for considering
    Thanks Yusimi..nice post sorry it became a race war?

  • Such a fancy edumacation and you still missunderstand what I’m trying to get across. I too am educated in the states. I have enough littles letters behind my professional name to fill this box (okay maybe not that many but its close). I am not trying to put you down. I’m trying to say that the revolution did not make you human. Only you can do that for yourself. The day of the “White Man” keeping you down are long gone. I did not own any slaves, neither my parents, grandparents, nor greatgrans. I applaud you for what you have accomplished in life. Nothing has held you back obviously. So why do others still blame the past when they are unable to move up in the present. There are no more excuses. I am proud of the AfroCuban Heritage. I will not allow for people to degrade it by saying that the revolution made blacks human. It is simply as far from the truth as a snowstorm in Havana. Blacks that strive for greatness everyday don’t blame the white man for all their…

  • Damien i re-read your diatribe and saw that u believe i live in Cuba? I live in the US and i am visiting my country
    Damien, i and am an Atty /Law Prof with the innocense prof..Google me.. Also, who said i was a slave..i am a decendant of slaves and at the Cuban slave museum i claim family brought to Cuba in 1832..i guess that i am considered by you to be one of the upwardly ranking AfroCubans who have made it in Amerikkka huh? However i am educated in Cuba, and as well and went to law school there and Georgetown in DC FYI i have a Doctorate..Having said that, when u first began the attempts to insult us here you told me that we would never amount to anything that we were to blame for slavery etc..What is it, did you not know that Afro Cubans and Afro peoples worldwide esp in amerikkka have acquired educ skills businesses and ability to think..or dod u believe that we would all fail until Prez came?

  • Damien, Obama is a white woman’s child and he’s not the son of a slave ancestor in the US. He don’t count. Your kind will be out numbered in this “new world order”. Its clear you are a house nigger too. An elitist, privelege by color, and class in your new found homeland. 2nd generation huh,,,,My kind been here for centuries. We know the truth.

  • Ms. Brooks, First off I am not your son and after reading your post I truly hope that you don’t have the ability to have one. If you are going to write in English, learn how to do so first. I have no idea what you are trying to say. I have one simple name for you. Surely you and all others that read this will recognize it. This is the name of the most powerful person in the mortal world. He also happens to be black. And, believe it or not, he can actually claim African ancestry and be legitimate. His name is Obama! He is the president of the United States if your were not aware Ms. Brooks. And he is as black as they come. I’m proud to say that he had the same opportunity as all others that are citizens of my country and he took full advantage of it. The USA has a black president. Say it with me Ms. Brooks. Can’t say that for Cuba can you. Nor for Venezuela or for that matter, you can’t say that about any socialist latin american nation. Just fat cats duping the…

  • DAMIEN, you don’t know nothing about blacks in america. The token few representing that I had a dream bull. I ain’t never needed to sit with the white man at the restaurant or his school. All we(THE MASSES) wanted was equality. House niggers during just fine now. They sold out and have immigrants like you cosigning the bullshit. AMERICA< the land of the free. Skin color matters son! believe that cause if you looked like a Haiti yall cubans wouldn’t been allowed here! East Euro trash was allowed here too and did very well while the KKK burned our businesses and banks in the 20’s-Please son! Listen to Senor Viamil

  • Valid points Ms. Viallmil. There is plenty blame to go around. The blacks of the the states, unlike the afrocubans, have, for the most part overcome their difficult pasts. They live for today and take advantage of the oprrtunities that this wonderful country affords. They forge ahead as do others of other races, religions, and creeds that are the melting pot of the United States. Not even the “White Man”, as you say, can keep them down. Unfortunately, some blacks like you in Cuba don’t have what it takes. In fact, there are only a few on the island that call for change and those are persecuted by your wonderful government. And by the way, “my white Cuban relatives” have no desire to return to the island. They prefer to remember their birthplace as the Pearl of the Caribean not the slum. Lastly, I did not realize that you were once a slave. I don’t blame you for not forgetting! “My white realatives” and I bid you peace and prosperity with your endeavors brainwashing…

  • @ awe damian so sad that you are still holding on to the belief that your White Cuban relatives will return to Cuba and pick up the old way of life..I will not argue with you that Africans were duped into selling our own to the Spanish, British, Portuguese(i am one) etc..However i will argue that it was the WHITE race who continued the process de jure within the US and whereever we were brought.
    I am one of thosee educated persons of African descent that you speak of and who educates students about the FACTS..
    Senor Damien i have not been kept down, and i have not continued with the past, i simply refuse to forget..But then again how can i when we have those of your ilk..always blaming the victim?
    Last Senor, it would behoove you to read a book by MLK entitled Drumroll for justice” and ask yourself If African desc are to blame..what part did white and Spanish Portuguese British French etc play Surely there is a lot of blame to pass on..However who sent Europeans into Africa…

  • You are incorrect Ms. Villamil. It was, in fact, “your people” who sold you into slavery. It was “your people” that perpetuated the slave trade. It was “your people” that became rich selling those less educated and less fortunate but of the same skin color. Today, “your people” continue in these same ways of the past. “Your people” continue to sell yourselves but this time its not to the white man it to another called pitty. You relish in the past and it is this that keeps you down, not the white man. As an American Cuban living in the states, I am able to witness everyday what those of darker skin are capable of accomplishing. It is equal, if not more, than the “white man” as you call those of lighter skin that some how oppress the colored. I’m greatful that I live and belong to America where anyone of any color is capable of anything. I’m sorry that you can’t say the same for your country where racisim is used by the government both to oppress and…

  • The root of racism is white priveledge..and the desire to be the one who dictates all things in life..LIKE THE EMBARGO.. Call it like it is RACISM and hate.We built the US and Cuba..Africans did this in chains..Noone duped my people but white racist..and still today those without knowledge are bearing the brunt..Wake up my people this is not going to end no matter how much we discusss it until it is admitted and dealt with..i will always call it like it is.. I live it each day..and MY face is the badge odf courage i use to educate my people about the facts.

  • The revolution did not make blacks human. It merely promised humanity to the black population. And as with everything else that the revolutionary movment promised, this never came to fruition. In fact, a true Marxist state needs racism to thrive. It needs a group that is discriminated against. A group of people that are somehow different and this difference makes them the scorn of society. Marxism then enters the scene and promises equality to all. Everyone gets a great job, a great salary, a nice house, a mode of transportation and above all, the same social standing. In short, everyone gets nothing and it is this nothingness inwhich Marxism fails miserably. A failed experiment. One that has been tested many times over and has always delivered the same results…. Failure! Carl Marx is laughing in his grave as he knows that he has duked all of you idiots with a joke of a manifesto which he always new, in his heart of hearts, would never work. Jokes on you!

  • race relations is sort of complicated there, huh? here in new orleans, our mestizos is black too so that light progeny of the white man is put in the bucket with the rest. Now back in the 50’s the light skin blacks (mestizos) remain separated socially until the 70’s made it cool to be black and come out the closet. It is one of the worst atrocities happen to a tribe of the human family- to oppress him based on how much the “Sun” loves him best. Will the rest of us get over it?

  • I disagree The revolution never made Afro Cubans human Rather another power did this.What that power did was allow Fidel El Che my father uncles mother etc to be used as battering rams..and thus we took our humanity back..Noone None Noone who does not look like me can speak to humanity being taken unles it was thiers

  • As a repeat visitor (10 times and counting) to Cuba, I was thrilled to stumble upon this site! I’m fortunate enough to live in a country that allows such travel. The main reason I am a repeat visitor is the inclusive nature of the people and the fact that I always feel safe and welcomed, regardless of where we are in the country.
    I’m not naive enough to think that race hasn’t played a part in the history of your country, but I’m being honest when I say my view as a visitor is that Cubans are amongst the least race-concious of the places I’ve travelled.
    In many “developed” countries (I use the term sarcastically), immigration fosters the economic divide that perpetuates racism. People of colour are marginalized and find it impossible to escape poverty because no matter how hard they work, they do not have the same opportunities to succeed. In many ways our society is very bleak.
    Cubans should be proud of the fact that diversity works in their country.

  • You know, we’ve all got to stop this nonsense of reducing everything to a white vs non-white exchange of epithets and guilt-oozing.

    The root of racism is parasitical, arrogant “classism,” and only workable, authentic socialism can sever that root.

  • I would say the revolution started a process of making “Whites” in Cuba become human…They ceased being “Whites” and started to become “Cubans”… This happened because Fidel consciously aligned Cuba with the “Third World” and unlike any of the other colonisers or “Whites” living in the former colonies, “White” Cubans began to repay their debt to those they had enslaved… this is not to say that internal prejudice does not still linger nor that the debt has been repayed. On a second note, whilst it is true that the Soviet Model has a real problem with economic stagnation, I think that the exacerbation of racism over the last 15 years is linked much more to the failure of “Whites” elsewhere to repay their debts and further, for the first time in their history, Russians and other Eastern Europeans becoming absorbed into the “White race”. A good history of this type of absorption can be read in “How the Irish became White” by Noel Ignatiev. It is this process that is…

  • Alberto, also, you can go to “video.google.com” and put in “The Mondragon Experiment,” for a great 50-minute BBC film from 1980. It’s the story of the Mondragon, Spain cooperatives. This film is the greatest!

  • Alberto, once again I bow to your superior experience, knowledge and wisdom. If there is any way for you to obtain my e-mail address from HT, I invite you to write and discuss things directly.

    It was totally obvious that Manny was trying to do just what you said. Thank you profoundly for setting the record straight, and thereby educating the rest of us.

    I sincerely hope you continue to monitor HT articles, and continue to share your perspective and wisdom with all who read this wondrous on-line magazine.

    I’m especially interested on how you see “employee-owned cooperatives with gov’t partial stock ownership” as playing a role in liberating the creative and productive potential of the Cuban people and the Cuban land–including of course your beloved Oriente Province.

    May I recommend that you go to “videos.google.com” and put “Democracy in the Workplace” into the “SEARCH” box. It’s a great, 27-minute film about worker-owned coops.

    In solidarity, Grady

  • In response to Manny’s effort to inject the old, divisive race card in this debate and move it away from the core discussion, suffice to say, that Batista’s government made a great effort as of 1956 to portray the supporters of the Revolution as Rich, White, Educated folks hating the poor mulatto. It did not work then, nor will it now. Manny also fail to admit, that the largest recruiting grounds of the 7/26 movement was middle and high schools, technical/professional and university, where blacks represented less than 5%. Manny now worries about the # of high ranking blacks in the Cuban government, but says nothing, when blacks were bulk and suffered most casualties during the wars of 1868, 79 & 98, only to be segregated 1902-59 limited to menial jobs, massacred when rights were demanded in 1912, bragged openly about not allowing Batista into the Havana Yatch Club or Nat King Cole & Josephine Baker forced to use the kitchen door to perform, while most did nothing there and here.

  • Hi Alberto, I can’t resist replying, but I do hope it’s not “over-talking” this thing.

    Your words “The future of too many people around the world hangs on a positive outcome of these crucial moments” stun me again. You’re the first Cubano I’ve heard to mention or even think about how the struggle for Cuban socialist “rectification” will affect people around the world. It’s been as though Cubans are so beset by their own problems they don’t have time or presence of mind to consider the world struggle for socialism.

    Truly, there is nothing more important for socialists–inside Cuba and out–than helping to make socialism “workable” in your embattled country. It’s why I keep pushing the idea of Cuba becoming a modern cooperative republic–before it’s too late.

    Marxism has destroyed every revolution so far–except for Cuba. It has destroyed the Left in the US. If you revolutionary patriots cannot grope you way out of it, people everywhere will lose.

    Keep the…

  • This is bullshit!
    For those that acutally take the time to research the origins of the revolucion and the 26th of July Movement 30 noviembre movement .. etc.. you will see that Blacks were sindicalistas or a large portion of labor unions in CUba. They were EXTREAMLY anti Castro.. becuase the first areas of reform by the revolution were the taking of small business .. that employed these guys.. Remember the black out of 1963. The engineers of the city of Havana consipired against fidel becoming a /lcommunist overnight..

    Cuantos Negros Cubanos eran parte de la revolcuion en alto NIVEL ??

  • Hi Grady,

    Thanks very much for such undeserved, encouraging words. Our country and the wellbeing of its people needs our attention, suggestions, critique and/or even prayers. The future of too many people around the world hangs on a positive outcome of these crucial moments. Cuba have been there before and we hope, the intelligence, vision and patriotism, will help us out of this morass. Thanks very much for being there.


  • Alberto, your last post is stunning. I’ve been trying thru HT to get the idea of what you’re appealing for to Cubans, but it’s really tough.

    I’ve pointed out over and over that Engels and Marx, in the last two pages of chapter 2 of the Communist Manifesto, set forth their recipe for running socialism. I’ve pointed out that their recipe has not, does not, and cannot work. I’ve said, “Look at what the workers did in Mondragon, Spain, with private cooperative property. You can apply their principles within Cuban socialism!”

    What’s my point? That workers/employees must own their own means of production directly. The workable basis for socialism in Oriente and in all Cuba is modern cooperative socialism, where the state has only partial ownership thru non-controlling stock. Enterprise should be managed by the employees/co-owners. This will make Oriente blossom.

    Maybe you could write to Fidel? If socialism is ever workable in Cuba, it will transform the world.

  • memo: May I suggest that people review my comments to Dmitri’s article “History Lapse in Cuba” in a recent issue of HT.

  • Blacks are not the only loosers as this infamy remains in place, Cuba is. Cuba has all the ingredients to quadruple its present GDP, by simply solving this issue that offends many, continue the development of the Afro-Cuban community and turn them into the most qualified in the world. Cater to 38 millions Afro-Americans, millions in the Caribbean, Africa and the diaspora and develop the strongest economy in the region. People from Oriente where most blacks lives, loves that region, do not wish to emigrate either to Havana or abroad. Develop Oriente huge mining, agriculture or tourism, where Guardalavaca can give Varadero and others a run for its life. Transform Guantanamo Airport into the largest enterprise in the nation, capable of employing 30-40 thousand employees, generating billions for the economy. Orientales and Blacks are not at fault, Government is. We have been denied the tools to prove who we are and what we are capable of doing. Please prove us wrong!!

  • . . . way.

    Alberto, your comments popped up just as mine were submitted. I bow to your experience and wisdom, in this issue and in several others. Thanks.

  • Yusimi, thanks for a superb article. And Michael, thanks for your comments.

    The other day a woman working behind me was having trouble with her computer program. I could hear a man helping her as an expert in computer processes. When I happened to turn around, I noted that he was African-American, and about as dark as anyone can be. My passing thought was, “Gee, when a person speaks in the common mode, without cultural “markers,” race disappears.”

    I’ve noted this phenomenon in many other instances. Apropos of this article, I can’t help but wonder how much such language and cultural differences between Cuban blacks and whites contribute to the continuing problem of racial prejudice in Cuba.

    Even so, racism is mainly a manifestation of social “classism” or “class arrogance,” not personal flaws, or language and cultural differences. I think the ultimate solution is eliminating classes through an authentic, cooperative, non-Marxist form of socialism. It’s the only…

  • As an old black man who suffered every possible indignity in Oriente, as a worker on the United States Naval Base in Guantanamo and as a thirty year resident in the US, our energies should not be wasted on trying to change entrenched racial bias rather, we must be ready to fight for and demand our rightful share within the Cuban society. We know, that everything visible or invisible in Cuba was created with the sweat, tears and lives of our parents 400 years of free labor. No one can deny the gains that blacks achieved in Cuba after 1959, but when placed on a scale of values, it represents 10% of this huge, cummulative, corrosive problem, that have gotten worse in the past 15 years, when segregationists have dominated the hard currency job market while receiving remittances from abroad, subjecting Afro-Cubans to hunger and desolation. This national disgrace is corroding the moral soul of our nation and it is an affront to the memory of Maceo, Quintin, Mariana and the Revolution

  • Although I can understand your anger at the comments of your former colleague, consider where he is coming from and the forces which molded him. I hope, at least, your anger acted upon him as a catalyst in rethinking his assumptions. His comments sound much like those of so many liberals up here, especially of the older (i.e. my) generation. Their hearts are in the right place, but their thoughts are based on so many platitudes and cliches, and it is a life-long struggle to overcome these sloppy ways of thinking (I should know). In this sense, although I remain a life-long materialists, I think The Church is right when it says that each person has a basic human dignity, and that this dignity is not bestowed, as a gift, by some liberator, but is inherrent in all human beings. What Revolutions should try to accomplish is the liberation of potential within all human beings. In societies which lack economic and social justice, this potential is stifled, or distorted.

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