The Tragedy of Cuban Racism

By Carlos Cabrera Perez  (Café Fuerte)

A group of dissidents protested last Thursday before the Cuban Parliament located in Havana’s Playa municipality.
A group of dissidents protested last Thursday before the Cuban Parliament located in Havana’s Playa municipality.

HAVANA TIMES — A video showing a group of Cuban dissidents protesting in front of the Cuban parliament in Havana to demand a series of liberties and rights has once again revealed the profound racism that continues to exist in Cuba.

Today, 56 years after the triumph of the revolution, we hear the voice of a woman yelling: “They’re a bunch of blacks who had no rights before and now want everything handed to them.” The woman was referring to the 12 activists from Cuba’s Orlando Zapata National Civic Resistance and Disobedience Front who were arrested on Thursday morning for demonstrating to demand the elimination of the absurd Ley de Peligrosidad (“Potential criminality law”).

In addition to being a false statement (for black people weren’t denied everything in the past, and they aren’t offered everything today), the woman’s comments reveal the profound contempt that some Cubans feel towards other Cubans, equal only in their condition as victims of totalitarianism. The woman we hear in the video, however, feels superior, as though fully espousing a Nazi concept.

White and Absolute Power

Castroism is a form of white, absolute power. One of the sociological bases for Castro’s triumph was the profound contempt that the sugar industry aristocracy, the middle class and the population in general felt towards the mixed-race dictator Fulgencio Batista Zaldivar.

In the 1980s, after the Cuban government noted that dozens of black and mixed-race people had left the country in the Mariel exodus, Fidel Castro made a point of increasing the number of black people and mulattos employed by government entities. This was, to be sure, a cosmetic rather than real measure, as none of these reached any positions with any real power. To be fair, neither did the new white recruits, as Castroism has always been a top-down, hermetic system.

Racism and other forms of discrimination on the basis of political and religious affiliations and sexual orientation were not invented by the Castro regime. The world is full of racists, intolerant people and countless individuals who suffer discrimination. What is surprising, however, is that a revolution that alleged to have been carried out by the humble and for the humble should produce such racist attitudes.

This is a serious issue, revealing the problematic perspective that has taken root in the mind of this woman and of those who think like her: one can be black, mixed-race, homosexual or whatever one wants to be, provided one supports the Castro regime.

This spells a terrible dilemma for a mixed-race, poor and sentimental country saturated with empty speeches about equality and justice, intent on the moral assassination of those who dissent, are different or respectfully – and justifiably – decide to break with the herd that feigns contentment and unshakable loyalty.

An Ailing Nation

Regrettably, Cuba is a morally sick nation, a victim of the totalitarian monologue that Castroism managed to establish thanks to the acquiescence of the majority of the population. And the regime continues with its tired spiels about racism in the United States, despite the fact that Barack Obama is still in office, after having been democratically elected for a second term.

This is why it struck me as significant that, at the sessions held this week before the US Senate and House of Representatives, most of the testimonies from dissidents and civil society representatives came from black and mixed-race individuals, reminding us that they are the ones who suffered the most and were most heavily trampled on by the deceitfully liberating stampede of Castroism.

The most recent Population and Housing Census conducted in Cuba confirmed that black and mixed-race people are the poorest in Cuba, a problem that will be difficult to overcome by any post-Castro government. A future Cuba will also have to devote considerable efforts to come in aid of an aged population, the chronically ill, alcoholics, drug-addicts and the numerous single-mother families where fathers have been absent for three generations.

Some will likely claim that what we hear in this video are the regrettable statements of a single woman, faced with a group of Cubans who demand democratic rights for all citizens, including the woman who insults them.

It’s a shame this is not an isolated incident and that it embodies the perverse effects of a political discourse that has taken shape in the course of more than fifty years and has sought to transform citizens into obedient soldiers, criminalizing all dissent and labeling those who defend a Cuba where there is room for everyone (including those who think differently) as enemies or, what’s worse, as enemy agents (hired by the CIA or USAID).

“They’re a bunch of blacks,” the offensive woman said. I say: They are Cuban, just like you, Madam, even if you can’t and probably never will see them as your equals.

21 thoughts on “The Tragedy of Cuban Racism

  • Regardless of who the church chooses to support, my response is aimed at the ignorant statement regarding ATR (African Traditional Religion) in Cuba, which has done more for the image and culture of Cuba than that of the Catholic church. I have no qualms with what people choose to believe in, but i have learned about far more atrocities from Christianity in history than every indigenous religion combined. I’d rather place my money in ATR’s than in the church, given a choice.

    I digress, racism is what this about in the long run, and it won’t be going away any time soon so long as there are Spanish descendants on that island that continue carrying that colonial mentality. Folks must have forgot when the mambises fought for a free Cuba back during Maceo’s era. I guess it wasn’t enough….

  • The Catholic Church has a history of torture and genocide in Cuba as part of its partnership with Spain. That is undeniable. The current Jesuit Pope Francis has been seen to be firmly on the side of the Castro oppressors unlike John Paul II who supported the oppressed.

  • True, but it did occur in Cuba in the early 20th century. The independent party of color saw plenty of massacres to prevent insurrection from the black community in Cuba. Obviously this doesn’t happen today, but the majority of Cubans imprisoned on the island are still black. We can’t discount this. But i agree, racism in the USA is far worse.

  • You’re not that bright. So instead of Lukumi (something to help keep the black culture intact in Cuba) we should donate those funds to the Catholic church i suppose (the very system that demonized and brutalized anything from Africa)? Keep living in your fantasy.

  • What are you drinking. When was Cuba trading with the USA? After the Russians left then other nations started trading with Cuba and going against the will of the USA. They did trade also with Mexico and Canada before the fall of Socialism. But for the survival and well being of any nation a larger trading network is needed.

  • “racism in the US is worse” in a LOT MORE WAYS! Cops in Cuba don’t go around shooting and executing blacks the way is done each day in the USA while getting away with that. Around 22% of blacks in the USA don’t have medical insurance and for many whites is the same. In Cuba they all get it FREE same for education. And % wise look at the many innocent blacks who are in jail in the USA or for almost not reason at all.

  • thi i the most ignorant post ive seen in years. you are no different than the racist pig woman yelling

  • You’re right. But in my case it is still ridiculous. I would differ slightly about White Cuban racism. They are more ignorant about what should be seen as racism. White Cubans have no problem describing me to my mulatta wife as her “negrito esposo”. But when I respond (if only to amuse myself) with “tu amiga blanquita” they get an uncomfortable look on their faces. There is plenty of blame to go around regarding the causes of racism. Black folks do their part as well.

  • To reply to your question “Why…”: Money, people exploit their own routinely. Also, White Cubans are more candid about their racism, they think is “Normal”. White Americans are just more quiet about it. We have Europe and the US to blame for our racism.

  • I don’t believe the U.S. embargo has been very effective. The U.S. is a big trading partner of Cuba. Cuba can trade with any other country. Unfettered capitalism or pure socialism is a false choice that you present. Human potential is best tapped when effort is rewarded. Equality is for ducks.

    Raul Castro has recognized need for mix of state and private sector. He also recognizes that a lazy society does not prosper. His changes will benefit all of society and if some more than others, then so what if all are better off.

    Do not envy they neighbor, instead look to ones own effort. We each travel our own journey as best we can. It is proper for the state to promote fairness and opportunity, but economic equality – no.

  • Such as is the way when people share.
    In a country controlled by free-enterprise capitalism hundreds, thousands would die from the poverty inflicted upon Cuba by the embargo .
    You seem to be forgetting two things and very conveniently at that:
    First the explicitly stated purpose of the U.S.- imposed embargo was to impoverish the island to the point ….TO THE POINT ..where the Cuban people would rise up and overthrow their own revolution .
    THAT’S why Cuba is so poor. Do you honestly think that the embargo was not sufficiently effective and that the people in Washington D.C. did not know that what they were doing was effective in impoverishing the entire society
    Secondly, the reason Cuba has been able to survive the embargo and other attacks from the Empire is because Cuba , while eminently totalitarian is simultaneously possessed of a socialist-style method of sharing what they do have fairly across the society.
    They all know that they are all in the same boat , so to speak and know that, sure ,Fidel lives really well and that there are the corrupt officials that live high but they also know that these are the few exceptions and that they are all under attack and are sticking together .
    It’s something people in free-enterprise capitalist countries have lost the ability and desire to do.

  • Here’s a little something for the moron racists out there.
    I recently had my genome traced through my mitochondrial DNA as well as the male side of things . National Geographic is running a project to see where the present world’s population originates from.
    I am so pleased to be able to tell the racists this: every human being on Earth has his or her origins somewhere around modern-day Kenya some 60,000 years ago when the race was down to a few tens of thousands due to natural calamities. .
    (This would be in AFRICA for the racists reading this).
    It gets better.
    Humans then migrated up out of Africa through the Middle East and on into Europe Asia and elsewhere especially during the past 10,000 years and during those very prehistoric times those humans that got to Europe and Asia interbred with Neanderthals and Denisovans which were sub-human but sort of first cousins genetically having split off the branch that was homo sapiens after the split with the progenitor we have in common with the chimpanzee–that’s a whole other story…
    All this to say that the people who have the purest Homo Sapien DNA are Africans who have 0 percent Neanderthal/Denisovan DNA and all white people have something like 1.7-2.7 percent of that SUBHUMAN DNA in them .
    Racists like Hitler were so concerned about racial purity and could exploit it because science had not discovered that fact back then .
    BTW National Geographic is still doing these tests (not cheap- for US$150.00 ).
    They are confidential unless you agree, as I did, to make the info available for the study they are doing.
    People have long paid big money to trace their family tree back a few hundred years . This takes you back 60,000 years and tracks the route your DNA groupings took in their migration from Africa.
    This stuff is just amazing..

  • For your information, the Santos have for many, many years not only been for Afro Cubans: all shades and segments of society find it a credible way to interpret the world. No more or less brainwashing than Socialism, Catholicism or Islam. Your comments belie your own prejudices…

  • Racism is the belief that all members of each race possess characterisitcs, abilities or qualities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior.Prejudices, Discrimination or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior and has the right to dominate others or that a particular racial group is inferior to others. Racism is rampant throughout the world even in families, some people will always believe that they are better than others, and some people feel threatened by others. We have to be completely honest with each other because we will never all get on together and we will never agree on everything, all we can do is attempt and try to understand each other a little bit better. Racism exhists in every country and in quite a large number of families in each country of the world. Governments must realise that their own people will not be told that they have to get on with each other and hope that that will be the end of it, people will have to come together and yes say to some ” I do not like you, however we will have to attempt to understand each other and work something out that will be the best for all of us. People need to talk to each other and more importantly we need to listen to each other. We need to realise and appreciate that we are all different. and have different need’s and beliefs.

  • Orlando Zapato National Civic Resistence and Disobedience Front ? That’s a good one. It’s always interesting when you get to see for yourself things that are reported on by the “Free Press”. My in laws are just down the road from Banes, The heroic Zapato’s home town, where I know lots of people. His Mom lived right by the parada de guaguas. His noteriety there was for being a cabeza mala, violent, drunk y vago. He apparently realized that if he remade himself as a dissident, he could afford Havana Club instead of chispa tren. I guess that’s what you get when you have to purchase your dissidents.

  • What a ridiculous comment. Why would I “exploit” my own people? Actually no, the percentage is by far much higher in Cuba. Worse yet, racist White Cubans are far more hypocritical than their racist White American counterparts. A white boy in Cuba will drool over a cute mullatica and yet never consider a serious relationship with her. In the US, they may listen to her music, but even Beyoncé has her racist detractors.

  • Yes of course. The economic sqauler is distributed fairly even.

  • Salam alaikum, “Castroism is a form of white, absolute power. ” when the CIA analysed Castro’s speeches in the 60s they concluded he was “Black” and the “White” Cubans fled to Miami, now they want to paint him as “White” and the Miami mafia are coming back. Amazingly, some Cubans seem to actually want this.

  • There is probably a higher percentage of people pretending that racism doesn’t exist in the US. And I can’t help but think you went to college so that you could exploit black people and poor people of the world. Did you major in business?

  • Well nice article i guess the writer comes from 50 years in the future. No country is as close to equality between black, white, mixed than Cuba. If seen from a perfect socialist country view the writerof course is right. Well but thats not the world we live in. And lets say there are good reason why black fall behind. For example wasting money for their holy “Santos” and probably steal it to get a nice dose of Chango, Yemaya, and whatsoever brainwashing more harmful than what they ever got from Fidel.

  • Cuban racism is widespread and well-known to its victims despite the claims to the contrary by Castro sycophants. To be clear, racism in the US is worse in many ways but the victims of racism in Cuba suffer nonetheless. As an African-American, I have experienced racism in both places. Cuban racism can be worse in one way: pretending it does not exist makes it even more difficult to eradicate.

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