Vicente Morin Aguado
HAVANA TIMES — In Cuba, there are people playing the race card, irresponsible demagogues in search of fame. Rosa Park’s protest would never have taken place in Havana, not under Batista and not under Fidel – it is a gesture foreign to our reality. Our hack writers milk the expectations that exist in our places around the world, where their messages are well received.
Is there racism in our country? Of course. How could we be free from it, carrying the historical burden of slavery on our shoulders? However, our history differs greatly from the Anglo-Saxon tradition that prevailed in our northern neighbor, the privileged target of any media attack launched by our country.
It is absurd, completely senseless and blind to the facts to attack Cuba’s revolutionary process as racist, to claim it has encouraged and supported discrimination over the past 56 years.
The claim that a racial ideology has prevailed in Cuba is historically baseless. In the case of the United States, however, there are plenty of eloquent examples:
Though, in 1776, Jefferson wrote that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness,” 90 years following Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and an additional century of blood, sweat and tears were needed to secure equal civil rights for all, a process that cost Martin Luther King his life.
Cuba proclaimed itself a Republic for the first time in Guaimaro, on April 10, 1869. On December 27 of the previous year, those who took up arms against Spain had already proclaimed the abolition of slavery, a transparent document signed by the country’s first president Carlos Manuel de Cespedes, a decree issued on December 25, 1870.
Cuba’s emancipatory and revolutionary leadership showed no hesitation or confusion on addressing the issue. Even though slavery was legally sanctioned until 1886 by the colonial power, a dark-skinned giant who, in the words of Jose Marti, “had a mind as powerful as his arm,” reached the rank of Lieutenant General of the Liberation Army, that is to say, he became the second-in-command of Cuba’s troops.
It is culture that most vividly reflects the difference between Cuba and the United States in terms of the issue of racial discrimination. We didn’t have anything even remotely resembling the KKK and, tellingly, our predominant religion, freed from restrictions following the agreements adopted at the 4th Congress of the Communist Party (held in 1991) clearly reveals the amazing syncretism on the island, something difficult to grasp beyond our borders.
The cultural creations of African origin remain intact in Cuba, without any considerations regarding skin-color getting in the way. A “pure-blooded” Spaniard lives next door to the writer of these lines, a renowned Babalao (Yoruba priest), the godfather of stepchildren who are far darker than I. The same is true of institutions as significant as that of the Abakuas, bound by anti-racist principles since the day one of them tried to save a group of medical students from an unjust execution. Though all these students belonged to Cuba’s aristocracy, some were suspected of ties to the said secret society of black people.
Cuba’s syncretic national identity grows unchecked, nourished by the arts and intimate unions, removed from any consideration of people’s skin color.
There are no government actions that favor racist practices – the entirety of revolutionary legislation is opposed to such abominations.
Discrimination as such, political discrimination in particular, stemming from the concept and practice of the one Party and ideology, is another thing. This is regrettable, for Marxism proclaims the end of all discrimination and full freedom for all peoples. Contrary to what it preaches, the Party consolidated different forms of discrimination, some of which are still effective – but they are never linked to the racial issue.
There is a kind of intrinsic racism that affects people and is highly regrettable. It is understandable from the point of view of human nature, loaded with prejudice and characterized by petty interests, spurred on from the beginning of history. Whenever such dark and low feelings arise, any action taken against them must be applauded.
But confusing these things, bringing together certain details capriciously in order to be applauded abroad, speaking of the sort of racism that exists in the United States (nowhere to be found in our country) is quite another matter.