The Persistence of Racism in Cuba
The Persistence of Racism in Cuba
May 21, 2016
By Alberto N Jones
HAVANA TIMES — The 1994 rafter crisis, changed the face of the Cuban
emigration and the strategy of the United States government to puncture
and weaken the Cuban government, when the predominantly white emigrants
suddenly became black and brown.
Surprised, the mass media in the US was not reluctant to declare that
the new emigrants did not look like Cubans anymore, as it debunked the
myth of the 60’s that Cuba was a nation of white millionaires without
The late AM Radio personality Agustin Tamargo had argued that the Cuban
government remained in power through the large presence of blacks in the
armed forces, police, personal security and other repressive
institutions, for which he requested a three days license to dole out
retribution when it falls.
The Cuban American National Foundation held meetings in Washington and
Miami to evaluate this demographic change, which led to the recruitment
of blacks with higher education in the US and in Cuba. They organized
seminars and courses in peaceful resistance at black universities and at
the Martin L. King Center in Atlanta, where they were organized into
independent librarians, independent farmers, independent journalists
etc., with branches in Cuba.
Two public meetings in Miami and Washington organized by the Center for
International Policy of the John Hopkins University in 1999 and 2000
with participants from Cuba and abroad demonstrated the existence of a
plan to exacerbate racial divisions in Cuba.
Attempting to impede them from laying the basis for another massacre of
blacks as the one that took place in Cuba in 1912, I shelved my limited
knowledge in animal pathology and environmental health and safety, to
venture into the complex journalistic world without previous knowledge
I published over a hundred articles among which it is worthwhile to
highlight, Una Cuba en la imagen de los Diaz-Balart 1998, Un hito en la
lucha en contra del racismo 1999, The attempt to divide Cuba along
racial lines 2001, Desenmascarando a los promotores de la Guerra racial
en Cuba 2007, Una batalla mundial de vida y muerte 2009, A sincere and
painful apology to the US Congressional Black Caucus 2009, How was I
drawn into Cuba’s racial issue 2011, and Afrocubans relations with
Afrocubaweb.com, Cubanews@yahoogroups, Havana Times, Cuba Journal, La
Alborada and other blogs played an outstanding role in spreading these
denunciations. The Miami Herald, el Nuevo Herald, Daytona Times,
Daytona News-Journal, Florida Times Union, Florida Sun Sentinel, the
Record, Tampa Bay, Washington Post, Listin Diario, Jamaica Gleaner, the
Star, the Observer, the New York Times and others, contributed
decisively to reach a wider audience.
Meanwhile in Cuba…
Paradoxically, while this battle was taking place outside of Cuba, on
the island the most retrograde, racists, neo-racists and
segregationists, unleashed a cruel attack against blacks by absorbing
every possible job with access to hard currency in tourism, joint
ventures, corporations, high level jobs and international scholarships.
Police intimidation increased on Obispo Street in Old Havana and in
Varadero and other tourist areas. The obstruction of black related
activities was stepped up, as was the masking of black history, culture
and education and the restricting of entry into certain professional
The result is graphic, irrefutable and devastating. Black neighborhoods
are like war zones, the disproportion in the incarcerated population,
level of prostitution and poverty are permanent testimony.
Prominent visitors from the US Congressional Black Caucus, artists and
intellectuals from around the world who have historically supported the
Cuban Revolution, expressed serious concerns to high ranking government
officials, many statistical studies were carried out and numerous
journalistic and literary works have severely judged this behavior.
The literary works by black intellectuals are carefully scrutinized,
delayed, they do not circulate freely and some documentaries have never
been shown or they were shown in the wee hours, when most people are in bed.
Obtaining financing from the Cuban Institute of Arts and Cinematography
(ICAIC) for black historical and cultural projects is extremely
difficult and the National Folkloric Dance Group has been on the verge
of collapse. Meanwhile the life of a pimp and a psychopath were financed
and distributed widely alongside other vain, violent or semi
pornographic imported films.
Most Cubans understood and accepted the abolition of racial, ethnic,
cultural and other societies and social organizations when they were
fused into Social Clubs. What is near impossible to explain is the
quiet resurrection of the Arab Society, Chinatown, Synagogues and
Asturian Societies with their commercial wing with restaurants, B&B and
hotels, which allows them to do social work among their members.
No black or mestizo society has been recreated and the Ministry of
Justice has done everything possible to keep former black emigrant
societies from functioning, or from repairing of buildings and operating
cafeterias and restaurants like the other above mentioned groups.
In the legal environment, the population is alarmed to see how easily
blacks can be accused and condemned for crimes they did not commit or
when they are guilty their sentences are more severe than their peers.
The sum of these factors, are the root cause of the increased racist
expressions in Cuba. From the use in employment centers of codified
words like “people with nice features”, the limited presence or absence
of blacks in areas with access to hard currency, the shameful job
opening on a blog for Whites Only and the repugnant and disrespectful
newspaper article following president Barack Obama visit to Cuba “Black,
are you Swedish”? and the appearance of Swastikas with a call to kill
blacks in Havana without any repercussion, denunciation or the capture
of the perpetrators by the authorities, are taking the country closer to
In the year 2006 erupted in the blogosphere the controversial letter
“Acting on our Conscience”, which was signed by close to 60 black
intellectuals, including the late Abadias Nascimento. No other action
intended to weaken black unity in and out of Cuba have had such a
negative impact on the country.
Multiple articles in which I proposed actions that could mitigate these
ills and denunciations from unconditional friends of Cuba, fell on deaf
and arrogant ears and have placed the future and national unity at risk.
Let’s rid ourselves of foolish arrogance by going to the heart of this
tragedy in Center Havana, Santiago de Cuba, Guantanamo, Marianao and
others, before an uncontrollable social explosion dooms the pompous
visits by dignitaries, international accords and development plans of
Source: The Persistence of Racism in Cuba – Havana Times.org –