By Nathan ‘Jolly’Green.
All those Cuban doctors and nurses arriving in the Caribbean are predominantly white. So where are the black doctors and nurses? The population of Cuba is 65% black, yet blacks have the worst housing, and the worst jobs, and are a minority in the Communist Party of Cuba. According to official Cuban figures, the black section of the population is only about 9%. With just over 1 million Cubans described as black, while 2.9 million considered being “mulatto” or “mestizo”. It is not unusual for Cuban figures to be massaged to suit the government; it happens in all sections of government.
The Economist states that, although the population is now mainly mulatto and black, its rulers form “a mainly white gerontocracy”.
Ref: The Economist. December 30, 2008.
There were 900,000 African slaves brought to Cuba compared to 475,000 taken to America. The blacks in Cuba have suffered racism from the moment their ancestors arrived, even after abolition, and right up until 2020, today they still suffer the indignities of systematic and institutional racism. Slavery ended late in Cuba; it was abolished in 1886, on a Royal Order by Regent Queen María Cristina of Spain.
The police in Cuba treat the black person differently from how they treat white people. The police always hurl racist comments at blacks, if you are black you even stand a good chance of being beaten by the police and there are recorded incidents of deaths of blacks in police custody.
According to anthropologists dispatched by the European Union, racism in Cuba is systemic and institutional. Black people are systematically excluded from positions in tourism-related jobs, where they could earn tips in hard currencies. According to the E.U. study, black people are relegated to poor housing, were excluded from managerial positions, received the lowest remittances from relatives abroad, and were five times more likely to be imprisoned. Blacks also complained of suffering the longest waits in healthcare.
Ref: “Obama Effect’ Highlights Racism in Cuba”. New America Media. December 15, 2008.
Esteban Morales Dominguez has pointed to institutionalised racism in his book “The Challenges of the Racial Problem in Cuba” (Fundación Fernando Ortiz). The book, which was published by Fundación Fernando Ortíz, a Cuban official publishing house, is allegedly banned in Cuba according to New America Media (even though it is featured in Fundación Fernando Ortíz’s website as item #29 of their collection La Fuente Viva, and is also called an “official document” by Carlos Moore, which would strongly indicate it is available in Cuba). A report from AfroCubaWeb disputes this claim about the ban on the book. Ref: afrocubaweb.com/jamesearly.htm
In the 1960s Cuba’s leader Fidel Castro was quoted as saying: “One of the most just battles that must be fought, a battle that must be emphasised more and more, which I might call the fourth battle—the battle to end racial discrimination at work centres. I repeat the battle to end racial discrimination at work centres. Of all the forms of racial discrimination, the worst is the one that limits the coloured Cuban’s access to jobs. “Castro pointed to the distinction between social segregation and employment while placing great emphasis on correcting the latter.
In response to the large degree of racism in the job market, Castro issued anti-discrimination laws. Besides, he attempted to close the class gap between wealthy white Cubans and Afro-Cubans with a massive literacy campaign, among other egalitarian reforms in the early and mid-1960s. Two years after his 1959 speech at the Havana Labour Rally, Castro declared that the age of racism and discrimination was over. In a statement given at the Confederation of Cuban Workers in observance of May Day, Castro said that the “just laws of the Revolution ended unemployment, put an end to villages without hospitals and schools, enacted laws which ended discrimination, control by monopolies, humiliation, and the suffering of the people”. Some sources consider the claim to be premature. But none of that worked, and today racism is as bad as it has ever been.
A survey showed that white Cubans believe that blacks are “less intelligent than whites” (58%) and “devoid of decency” (69%). Racial Politics in Post-Revolutionary Cuba by Mark Q. Sawyer discusses the racial ideology prevalent in the country.
Ref: Mark Q. Sawyer, Racial Politics in Post-Revolutionary Cuba, Cambridge University Press, 2006. ISBN 0-521-84807-5, ISBN 978-0-521-84807-7
On 18 April 2018, Díaz-Canel was elected as the new president succeeding the Castro’s. Him being elected was not so difficult as he was the only candidate He was confirmed by a vote of the National Assembly on 19 April and sworn in on the same day. Since coming to power the Communist Party colour mix has got a little better, a few more blacks in parliament.
The world has been following the treatment of blacks by some U.S. polices officers. Blacks have died at the hands of police in much-publicised events. The world has protested about that.
But the same thing has happened recently in Cuba, and no one can mention it, or complain, and least of all, protest. The world ignores the plight of the black Cubans.
2020, June 30, HAVANA (Reuters) – A raft of Cuban dissidents, artists and journalists said on Tuesday that state security agents had staked out their homes to prevent them from attending planned protests over the killing by police of a young Black man.
At least 40 dissident activists were also detained by police, according to exiled rights group Cubalex, with some later released.
Those included performance artists Tania Bruguera in Havana and the leader of Cuba’s most active opposition group, Jose Daniel Ferrer, who had been under house arrest in the eastern city of Santiago de Cuba.
Cuba does not usually comment on the detention of dissidents, which would give them more publicity. The government did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
No would-be protesters appeared able to make it to the site of what was supposed to be the main demonstration in Havana which was full of security forces. Some said state telecoms monopoly ETECSA had cut their mobile internet service overnight.
Protests against the state are rare in a country where public spaces are tightly controlled, and Communist authorities are quick to crack down on dissent.
The calls for protests on Tuesday were triggered by news last week that police had shot and killed a 27-year-old unarmed Black man, Hansel Hernandez.
A woman who identified herself as his aunt denounced the killing on social media and called for justice, grabbing attention amid protests against police violence and racism in the United States.
For three days, authorities did not comment. But on Saturday, Cuba’s Interior Ministry issued a statement saying police had been chasing Hernandez, who had done jail time previously for other crimes.
Hernandez, who had committed an act of vandalism, started throwing stones at police as they chased him and hit one officer in the shoulder, throwing him to the ground, the statement said.
The officer shot Hernandez after firing off two warning shots, the statement said, adding that he acted in self-defence and without the intent of killing him. [perhaps the truth is three shots were fired, two misses, one strike]
The Interior Ministry said it lamented his death.
Critics have denounced the government for not holding the police to account by launching an investigation, especially given how quick officials have been to condemn U.S. police brutality, with extensive coverage in state media of the Black Lives Matter protests.
They also accuse the government more broadly of allowing police brutality and failing to address racism in Cuba adequately.
Cuba’s government prides itself on having improved the lives of Black Cubans by officially eliminating racial segregation after its 1959 revolution and providing universal access to education and healthcare.
But anti-racism activists say that by acting as if the issue of racism were resolved and suppressing debate over it, the government has prevented the steps needed to eradicate it.
Read the whole story here – https://www.reuters.com/article/us-cuba-racism-protests/cuba-prevents-protest-over-police-killing-of-black-man-idUSKBN2413R5
Before I end, my two-penneth worth question, is why do Caribbean leaders of predominantly black countries align themselves with a state that acts in such a way against blacks and give their whites in that population privileges, Why?
Ralph Gonsalves is a white leader of a predominantly black country, you rarely if ever see or hear of white people being beaten by the SVG police, but it is common for black people to attend court with bruised faces and black eyes. Gonsalves is the Cubans biggest asset in the Caribbean, has officially announced that he has taken over the work of Maurice Bishop. The Cuban revolutionary communist who brought the Marxist revolution to Grenada. Ref: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eLPFeuQLwBs
It is default procedure for Blacks to be beaten by the police in Saint Vincent, yet I have never heard or read of Ralph Gonsalves demanding it stops. There are dozens of recorded cases.
I recently asked if Ralph Gonsalves is a member of the Cuban Communist Party, he nor the Cubans have replied to that. [the lapel badge?]
Every Vincentian online news site has been frightened to publish my articles, despite them being published far and wide by others. It is such a shame that online editors run scared of the Gonsalves regime, and I must rely on editors in most other countries in the region posting what I write. I am not sure if it is cowardice, if they are in bed with him, or if they quite simply are terrified of his wrath and fear the destruction of their companies. Perhaps a little of all the above.