The Persistent Racial Crisis in Cuba

By Alberto N. Jones  (Photos: Juan Suarez)

HAVANA TIMES — Recent controversies in Havana Times and other online media about the heated issue of racism in Cuba sadly confirm my predictions decades ago. That the unfounded fear of the Cuban government to recognize and confront the increased racism in the country and its intent to pretend this tragedy does not exist, would serve only for this malady to metastasize and end up devouring the victim, if an effective and aggressive therapy is not applied.

I read carefully an article written by Lenin Ledo Galano about Guillermo Fariñas on 8/8, Elio Delgado’s response on 8/16 and Yusimi Rodriguez’s counter-response on 8/24, all of which touch on the signs, symptoms and clinical appearance, while ignoring the sinister racist past that our country has dragged for 500 years.

Because the cases of Fariñas, Zapata, Berta Soler, UNPACU, Ladies in White and similar are signs and symptoms of an enormous pathological issue that is devouring our country, I will not refer to them although I have a personal opinion.  Neither will I refer to articles written by Elio, Iroel or the panelists that have taken part on the national TV show The Round Table, who are prone to present these evils in technicolor or as if, they were the sole result of a campaign by the United States.

Thousands of historical documents before and after Cuba’s independence demonstrate categorically, the existence of a racist, supremacist trait in people in position of authority and influence in Cuba, who have imposed with blood and bullets their Eurocentric philosophy. Recently, authors such a Rolando Rodriguez have tried to mask and justify with a  tendentious inflammatory description  of the massacre of the Independent Party of Color in 1912, as a ”mistaken uprising” or “the conspiracy of equals”.

The cruel, brutal and shameful experience of blacks in Cuba remains as a pending task and a wretched, festering wound that exudes a scornful and fetid odor, which everyone including our illustrious Nicolas Guillen thought was eradicated with the triumph of the Revolution as he wrote in his memorable poem “I Have”.

An irrefutable lack of political will has ignored the depth, gravity and malignancy of racism in Cuba, which some have tried to resolve by closing their eyes, applying band aid remedies or intimidating all discussions and analyses with fear of social division.

The government’s complicity in the persistence of racism in Cuba and its sequel, do not require academic studies or bibliographic compilations. Suffice a comparative analysis with the form, energy and determination that the same government has dealt with and resolved educational, social, political or military problems, far more complex than the oldest defect the country have dragged for centuries.

  • The Revolution taught the entire nation to read and write in less than a year and in less than a quarter of a century, turned the country into the most educated in this continent.
  • The Revolution liberated women and conferred upon them the most advanced social rights in our region.
  • The Revolution recognized in less than a decade, equal rights for homosexuals, bi-sexual, transgender etc., in a country with an engrained sexist, prejudiced and homophobic mentality.
  • The Revolution defeated every military, economic, financial, political and isolationist attack against the country by the most powerful country on earth and its allies.
  • The Revolution placed the country ahead of Latin America in education, arts, culture, sports and the sciences.

How can we explain to ourselves, that racism, which is much easier to eradicate, has been able to survive, reproduce and constitutes today the greatest derision and obstacle to the country’s development, rides freely in plain sight of the authorities and which is spoken of tangentially sporadically without any law enforcement or consequences for violators?

The persistence of supremacist, sectarian and segregationist mentalities that reside in the minds and heart of many Cuban government officials, are determining factors in the continuance and development of this plague.  Absolute power and the unwillingness to change course is drawing the vessel dangerously close to a reef and shipwreck, as is demonstrated by absurd and stagnating decisions that are fossilizing the nation.

As a result, Cuba has lost hundreds of billions of dollars in food production and deprived the population of basic nourishments. The government has preferred to keep millions of acres of fertile lands idle and devoured by weeds rather than reverse a cruel and unjust entry law into the country for Caribbean migrants, who were responsible in the past for the production of sugar, coffee, cocoa, fruits and small animals.

Had governments before the Revolution acted in a similar fashion, the country would never had a Teofilo Stevenson, Lesbia Vent Dumois, Regino Boti, Rita Manley, Lidia Turner or Wilfredo Lam and others.

While Cuba spends millions of dollars promoting tourism in Europe, Asia and Oceania, it has never made a similar effort in the Caribbean or among the Afro American community, although it holds a GDP of over 960 billion dollars a year.

How can Justice Institutions in Cuba explain the disparity in the administration of the law between whites and blacks? Minor crimes committed by blacks are severely punished while extremely grave crimes committed, by even high ranking white government officials, against the integrity and stability of the nation, are only denounced, reprimanded verbally and the offender returned to society without further consequences.

What other reasons except the fear of blacks and the horrors of poorly hidden racism can explain the self-inflicted harm to the country by forcing into poverty and decimating an entire sector of the population. By exclusion, being subjected to hunger and forced into crime, tens of thousands of blacks are incarcerated, which constitutes today a flagrant and undeniable accusation of race-relations failure in Cuba.

Either Cuba musters the moral fortitude to eradicate the Sowetos it has created or it will be forced to live with an international stigma as it succumbs to the flames of racial strife like in Baltimore, Ferguson, Miami or Europe.

20 thoughts on “The Persistent Racial Crisis in Cuba

  • September 1, 2016 at 9:49 am

    Hell. NO! While BLM at its core has a genuine purpose, we don’t need violence and destruction to solve race issues everywhere else, especially when it’s not even working here in the USA.

  • September 1, 2016 at 9:48 am

    What on earth does this have to do with NJ Marti’s comment??? Also, blacks in America and blacks in Cuba have totally different mentalities and goals, only paralleling in desire for equal rights as everyone else. Please do not come here and be closed minded…

  • August 28, 2016 at 3:24 pm

    Not buying this apology for the regime nor any convoluted theories of electronic democracy and the lack of infrastructure for that. No system of governance anywhere in the world is perfect. One needs no intellectual studies to see what is glaringly visible that the Cuban government is overwhelmingly “Gallego” whereas the population is ultimately, on balance, overwhelmingly mixed. The regime knows the imbalance! There is a speech by Fidel at the 1st Congress or one of the early congresses of the PCC where he talks about promoting Afro-Cuban cadres into governance positions. And I defended the regime with this apparent lie whenever charges that the Cuban govt was all white but the Cuban basketball team was all black. In the early 90s there was much brouhaha about Juan Robinson, the Secretary-General of the PCC in Santiago de Cuba, as some promising future leader. He disappeared from the face of the earth under charges of corruption and abuse of power, never to be heard of again. One has to watch Cuban TV to realize that Afro-Cuban children and youth have no role models from their race in posotions of authority and responsibility. Do you really believe there will be an Afro-Cuban leader of Cuba? A Cuban Obama? No, not in another 50 years!

    I call on Dr Jones and others such as Professor Esteban Morales to start a campaign of making known to the world the existence Afro-Cuban intellectuals, distinguished technical, military, and professional experts in all fields as one way of combatting the flagrant marginalization, exclusion and discrimination against Afro-Cubans. Please make and publicize the list now!

  • August 28, 2016 at 4:48 am

    It is a mathematical fact that perfect representative democracy is impossible (see Arrow’s Impossibility Theorem). Athenian democracy was not a representative democracy but direct democracy (although it excluded women and slaves). This was possible given the much smaller population involved. With the internet it is possible for us to have direct democracy again. The whole island can be turned into a parliament, with everyone (this time without exclusions) able to vote on policy. Cuba currently lacks the infrastructure to do this, however I am convinced this is the future, and will resolve much of the “racial” issues that currently exist.

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