Opportunism or Cheap Extremism

Alberto N Jones

Alberto N. Jones during a recent visit to Cuba.
Alberto N. Jones during a recent visit to Cuba.

HAVANA TIMES — On September 26, Elio Delgado Legon published a corrosive article with the instructive title of “The Journalism of Terror regarding Cuba.”  This is the same person who unleashed a vicious, treacherous, blitzkrieg attack against my article “The persistence of racism in Cuba” a subject he knows nothing about, does not care and for which he is selectively blind and deaf.

Applying the old worn-out tactic of ignoring the message and shooting the messenger, Elio exemplifies an old Spanish axiom: “it is easier to catch a liar than a lame.”  I have nothing to hide or being ashamed of, that require me to wrap with the Cuban flag or shield myself behind the number of white friends I have.  Others may have to do so.

Elio took it upon himself to launch a fusillade of disparaging statements against “They” (me) in his inflammatory article “They keep on ranting about the issue of racism in Cuba”.  He directed his big guns, lies and threats against and miraculously did not call me a CIA operative or a member of any anti-Cuba organization.

My life history allows me not to fear Elio or his cohorts.  As a young employee on GITMO in the late 50s, we collected used military shoes, jackets and cash for those fighting in the Sierra Maestra.  I quit my job on GITMO on October 22 at the beginning of the Missile Crisis. I went off to study Veterinary Medicine in Havana, received a course in exotic diseases in Germany and returned to Cuba in time to set up the first sanitary barrier ever in Cuba against a bio-terrorism attack.

As Director and Pathologist of the Veterinary Diagnostic Lab responsible for 1/4 of Cuba land mass, I discovered five unknown entities in Oriente and two that were unknown in the country. I was elected president of the scientific council and became instructor of pathology at the University of Oriente, all for one salary.

For opposing corruption and misuse of government property, I was wrongfully accused and sent to prison for 8 years.  Upon release, when all efforts to clear my name failed and no one at the highest political and legal authorities could stand by this bogus conviction or was willing to apologize for this gross mistake, I migrated to the US in 1980.

In New York I organized vigils and marches against Apartheid at the UN, collected cash, medicine, medical and school supplies for the African National Congress, Namibia, Zimbabwe and their delegates to the UN in New York, found a respite in my home when they were labeled as terrorists.

Photo from eastern Cuba.
Photo from eastern Cuba.

Since 1984 to this day, I have sent hundreds of tons of medicine, medical supplies, school materials, cultural, sports, physically challenged mobility equipment, environmental resources, buses, trucks and led numerous delegations of Afro Americans and Anglo Caribbean friends to Cuba.

I was among the first persons since 1990 to denounce the United States attempts to divide Cuba along racial lines and promote a fratricidal war by writing articles, visiting the US Congressional Black Caucus, Transafrica, the NAACP, Universities and City Halls in Florida, California, Pennsylvania and North Carolina.

Today when it is easier, many have flocked to South Africa, Namibia or Angola for photo ops as proof of their solidarity and others like Elio try to threaten anyone with an opposing view of his lack of understanding of the critical and dangerous race-relations disparity existing in Cuba.

Love for Cuba must be expressed by highlighting and denouncing what is wrong, not with cover-up, white washing or lies.


6 thoughts on “Opportunism or Cheap Extremism

  • Dear Alberto,

    We probably don’t agree on much politically, but I respect you as a man of integrity who worked tirelessly for the ideals you believe in. Peace be with you.

  • I wish to express my deepest gratitude to HT, its writers and its readers, for publishing my disgust with an article that was an attempt on my life values and principles. My apologies to everyone who may have been offended.

    On this blog 8th. anniversary, we must all give thanks to the vision of the editor and to its many contributors who have brought this, our paper to maturity. May we commit ourselves today, to share our experiences with a more positive and constructive view of life, while reducing some negative or antagonist approach to each other and to the world.

    I am happy and grateful to HT for allowing me to reconnect with Mr. Moses Patterson and I thank him for remembering the rainy day when we met years ago. To my new acquaintances through these pages and others who have accepted my untrained writings or dissenting or discording views, Thanks, Thanks very much to all.

  • Racism is a real existential phenomenon/threat for black people and not some theoretical, albeit phony, construct or salon discourse to be indulged in by others! The old adages apply: If it walks like a pig, talks like a pig, it is a pig! A pig with lipstick is still a pig. Nothing – dialectical, philosophical, or whatever – justifies the 50 years of marginalization of the Afro-Cuban people and their exclusion from the portfolios of the so-called historic leadership. The historic leadership did not commit “racial suicide”, so to speak, and emerge without racial consciousness. It has also clearly been demonstrated that even progressive Afro-Cubans who support the Castro regime must “know their place” or will be severely punished as exemplified by the cases of Professor Esteban Morales and Roberto Zurbano. If the historic leadership has been following some theoretical policy of “no race”, then it has done a marvelous job of appointing only “Gallegos” to critical portfolios and even ensuring the continuation of its gene pool with the de factor succession of Diaz-Canel after Raul!

  • Alberto, you are well within your rights to defend your integrity following Elio’s ignorant accusative article aimed at you, however I do hope that this doesn’t turn into a public slanging match which would be counter-productive. The problem is far wider than Elio, and focusing on him is a distraction. Far better to focus on the segment of the Cuban population of which Elio is an example. The first thing I should say is that this population is not intentionally racist, indeed they would see themselves as defending a Revolution that did away with racism. There is a contradiction at the heart of the anti-racist struggle. On the one hand the very use of the concept of “race” gives rise to racism, whilst on the other the existence of racism demands the use of the concept of “race” in order to address the lack of equality. It is widely seen that “White” anti-racists opt to ignore the concept of “race” whilst “Black” anti-racists opt to embrace, albeit with the racist hierarchy turned on its head. Thus we hear some activists even saying that “Black” racism against “Whites” should be seen as a positive thing. This for a “White” used to denying the existence of “race” on anti-racist grounds is hard to swallow without the necessary education and dialectical perspective. As I said, the first thing to recognise is that the contradiction between the necessity of denying the existence of “race” and the necessity of addressing racism through existing “racial” categories, is the fundamental contradiction that drives the (r)evolution away from the racist order that exists today. With regards to Cuba, I have long made the argument that by making the Revolution and aligning themselves wholly with the Third-World, the Spanish-Cuban Revolutionaries ceased to be “White”. The blockade and all other punishments meted out by the empire on Cuba are precisely because the Cuban people chose to live and die by the success of the Third-World countries. Thus the blockade et al are acts of racism by “White” society determined to stamp out the example to “Whites” set by the Cuban Revolution. There is much more to be done, despite ceasing to be “White”, “Gallegos” still occupy a privileged position. Much of this is to do with the global Euro-Centricism. It is here that the contradiction between accepting the existence of “race” and denying it is most keenly felt. Is a “Black” person a sell out for adopting Marxian economic analysis, something that originates in Europe, or even more extreme, Western medicine as opposed to traditional African remedies? Should “Blacks” go to Universities to study European disciplines or should they reject them wholly and build on what remains of traditional African bodies of knowledge? The solution is to recognise that this is a dialectical process whose synthesis, a genuinely non-racist society is still to be reached. There are concrete problems in Cuba such as housing and access to remittances let alone positions of authority, however there is also the very real problem of generating wealth in a racist world. If the Revolution stands for anything it is that we should never tire of learning. Elio’s fault is not that he defends the Revolution, something that he should be applauded for, but rather that he has stopped living it and closed his ears to learning from the struggles of others. This in itself is the fault of the insular media and education system that fails to present these struggles in their true light.

  • I believe that there is Racism in every single country in the world that has a population of more than one!

  • Dr. Jones, while I suspect that you may not remember me, we were introduced by a mutual friend in a hotel lobby during an afternoon downpour in central Havana. Over the course of our conversation, while we did not agree on many Cuban-related issues, I found you to be your own man and sincere in your beliefs while remaining open to hearing opposing opinions. I still have your business card with the colorful Caribbean motif. Elio is not his own man and certainly not open to hearing opposing opinions. Thank you for this post.

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