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Lisa Brock

Carlos Moore

Race and the Cuban Revolution:
A Critique of Carlos Moore's "Castro, the Blacks, and Africa"

By Lisa Brock and Otis Cunningham

This article provides some much needed critique of Carlos Moore's book.  It was published by the Center for Latin American Studies at Pittsburgh University in the University of Pittsburgh Press' Cuban Studies 21, in 1991, Louis A. Perez, Jr, Ed.. We reprint it here with permission from the authors.

Race and the Cuban Revolution:
A Critique of Carlos Moore's "Castro, the Blacks, and Africa"

By Lisa Brock and Otis Cunningham

For many years, there has been a need for rigorous scholarship on the question of race in revolutionary Cuba. Intellectuals on the left have traditionally praised Cuba as a nation free of all aspects of racism. From the right have come a small number of blacks, such as Carlos Moore and John Clytus, who portray Cuba as a dogmatic Marxist country thriving on racism against a population that is largely black.1  Historically grounded research has generally been lacking, especially in English, even though a number of scholars have acknowledged both the material and cultural advances of blacks and the continuation of white supremacist attitudes.2  Carlos Moore's Castro, the Blacks and Africa is interesting reading because of its anecdotal style but projects no light into the general confusion. Moore can, however, be credited with making the need to carefully study race in Cuba all the more apparent.

In four parts and twenty-one chapters, Moore presents an impoverished thesis about race being used as leverage by Cuban leaders to further their domestic and foreign policy aims. His arguments are weakened by a persistent disregard for solid references and a heavy reliance on hearsay. Most disturbing is the general lack of historical context and the narrow racialistic framework that underpins the entire work. Tense race relations, socialist development, and internationalism during the early stages of the revolution are generally presented as new phenomena in Cuba, having little or no roots in the past or in the social, political and economic arena of the period. Similar approaches were employed by Moore in his earlier works, Were Marx and Engels, White Racist: The Prolet-Aryan Outlook of Marx and Engels and "Cuba: The Untold Story."

Fidel, the Revolution, and Race

A first aspect of Moore's current work concerns Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution's position on race. According to Moore, the Cuban leader is an elitist, an opportunist, and racist; and under his leadership the Revolution has been largely developed by and for white Hispanic Cubans.3 Because of all of this, black Cubans have gained little. Moore implies that racism is not only a vestige of the past, but also something fostered by Castro and socialism.

Moore makes his argument by first constructing a sociopsychological profile of Fidel Castro during the Revolution. He surmises that Fidel Castro is a "revolutionary warlord" with an "elitist and messianic character," a leader "endowed with an exclusive claim to popular legitimacy and absolute power."4   To argue such a position, he extracts passages from Carlos Franqui's Diario de la revolución cubana written by revolutionaries Frank Pats and Carlos Franqui.5  He points to a July 1957 "Note" in which Franqui is addressing important issues historically attributed to popular movements (and often debated) in Latin America. Franqui identifies "caudillism" as one of the "fundamental problems" of Latin America.6   Moore implies that Franqui is talking about Fidel Castro. A review of the original passage indicates that Franqui is exploring the various styles of leadership in general that the Cuban revolutionaries may wish to emulate and/or reject. Moore misrepresents the intent of Pats when he quotes a passage from a letter Pats drafted to Fidel Castro: "In a revolution assemblies cannot be organized, but neither can everything be centralized in one man."7  Moore infers that País is talking about Fidel Castro when in fact he is concerned with structural problems within the underground movement of which País, himself, was a leader. Moore provides no background information of the structure of the July 26th Movement or of underground movements in general. Neither is there any mention of the revolutionary context nor exchanges over tactics that are common among leaders of social movements. Moore has taken what were, in fact, differences over strategy and made them into major disputes over the personal character of Fidel Castro.8 The author then begins to interchange the term caudillo for Fidel Castro's name when referring to him in the book.

Moore suggests that, in addition to being an elitist caudillo, Fidel Castro is a racist. He does this without offering any real evidence. In chapter 3, which is entitled "Castro's Early Attitude on Race," Moore highlights Fidel Castro's Spanish-based, middle-class, Catholic upbringing in Oriente Province as providing the underpinnings of his racial attitudes. To prove his point, Moore quotes from Victor Franco's The Morning After, the memoirs of a friend of the Castro family. Franco comments that Angel Castro, Fidel's father, shot at Negroes as his favorite pastime.9  Upon review of the Franco book it is clear that Fidel actively disliked his father and would surely not consciously emulate him. Fidel's mother was a mulatta servant of the already married Angel Castro, and Fidel and his brothers and sisters were illegitimate, poor, and despised by Angel Castro's other children. Again, Moore misrepresents the context of the quote.10

Moore quotes Franqui again as commenting that Fidel's "great limitation" was in his incapacity to -understand "what it has meant and continues to mean to be a Black in Cuba." 11  Moore does pull other passages that may point to an honest misunderstanding on the part of Fidel of the historic impact of racism on black lives in Cuba. However, Moore does not prove that Fidel is racist. There are many examples such as Fidel's antiracist activities as a student at the University of Havana and later as an attorney that receive minor or no attention from Moore.12  Further, the outlawing of institutional discrimination in revolutionary Cuba is an issue Moore addresses only in passing. The importance or impact of such a policy is never measured.13

After discussing Castro, Moore examines the Revolution's position on race in the context of early black participation and black attitudes. He argues that blacks were concerned with the Revolution but did not really participate in it; and those that did, such as Juan Almeida - famed army major - were duped. Here, Moore's arguments are ahistorical, convoluted, and contradictory. On the one hand, he takes pride in the fact that blacks fought alongside white Cubans in wars against Spain. He commends renowned heroes of that era such as Antonio Maceo and the feared Mambí fighters (the largely black and mulatto nationalist soldiers). He even heralds the large-scale black uprising of 1912, which was the culmination of frustration felt by blacks over discrimination within the new republic. Yet, by the 1930s, Moore asserts "The Afro-Cuban population . . . had essentially abrogated its role in domestic power politics."14 In fact, Moore concludes that the Revolution was "essentially a victory of the anti-imperialist segment of the white Cuban middle class."15

To have the readers believe that black Cubans, after centuries of slave rebellions, maroon societies, participation in the independence and abolition movements and in civil uprisings, suddenly decided to stop struggling is insupportable. Moore does not even attempt to advance this claim. What he does do is to move without any explanation into a discussion of the well-known black participation in the Communist party and in the trade union movement. He states that blacks were well represented in most working-class organizations. He recognizes that the Communist party was the only consistent antiracist national organization, from 1930 to 1959 and admits, "Blacks were the backbone of the Party."16 However, he states that Communists and trade unionists had little or no impact on the Revolution.17

Moore makes no attempt to resolve the dual contradictions he sets up between black participation and asserted nonparticipation in the first instance and his contention that blacks were key members of working class organizations but that a "nationalist white bourgeois elite would eventually impose (on them) an ideology that led to Marxism."18 Part of Moore's analytical stalemate is due to his limited understanding of historical process, especially as it applies to the essential, integral, and decisive role of class consciousness in any successful revolution. To assert that the ideology of socialism was mechanically imposed by a white bourgeoisie upon black sections of a working class that had a high level of organizational and intellectual skill is ludicrous and almost smacks of white paternalism.

Moore's middle-class bias toward struggles he perceives as singularly valid in the battle against racism also leads to contradictions. Organizations and movements in which race is not the only issue appear to be unimportant. Moore's narrow interpretation of the Independent Party of Color of 1912 indicates such a bias. For instance, Moore perceives this organization as a middle-class organization, fighting only for political inclusion into the existing system at the time. (This interpretation is debatable.) The fact that peasants in Oriente joined the uprising for socioeconomic reasons-their land was being taken away because of U. S. penetration-is not examined.19 After the Independent Party of Color and the broader uprising were brutally put down, there was no significant struggle by blacks, according to Moore's analysis. It is partly within this context that Moore argues that blacks did not participate in the Revolution. Moore describes working-class movements after 1912 as "colorless."20 He contends that black workers and peasants who supported the Revolution did so not because they believed themselves better off as black people, but because they suffered from inferiority complexes and traumas associated with racism that left them with a confused self-perception.21

Moore presents these peculiar arguments without offering any commentary on the historical development of racism or racial ideology in Cuba.22 He never systematically explores issues in Cuban history important to the formation of racial ideas such as slavery, the Cuban struggle for independence and abolition, or the U.S. intervention in Cuba at the turn of the century. Because the Cuban fight for independence and abolition shared the same historical stage, there developed an ideological congruity between fighting for equality for blacks and against colonialism. Similarly, black Cubans suffered particularly from new forms of racism and economic deprivation after the United States' intervention and implementation of the Platt Amendment of 1901.23 A striking conjuncture of race, class, and national consciousness in Cuban history emerged (albeit with tensions) during the twentieth century.24 Yet, this fateful juncture is never explored by Moore. So while he must admit that over 90 percent of the black Cubans supported the Revolution, he deduces that black foresight had very little to do with it. The idea that blacks may have possessed a historically threaded belief that a movement that was rationalist, anti-imperialist (maybe even socialist) might also be antiracist, is never posed by Moore.

Race and Socialist Development

Moore addresses what he perceives as Cuba's domestic policy during the early years of the Revolution. He uses his first flawed premise to expand on his second theme, which is that Fidel consciously manipulated Cubans toward his own "sinister" aim of entrenching socialism, implying that socialism is somehow alien and against the will of the people. Part of Fidel's ideological arsenal, according to Moore, is his manipulation of the race factor in Cuban society.

These themes emerged in 1959. Yet, Moore never discusses their full scope within the context of that tumultuous year. The reader is never reminded of the actual fall of Batista, what kind of transitional government was installed, or what process was under way to establish radical reforms. In addition, there is no informed assessment of the opinions of Cuban people and the international community about the Revolution. Nevertheless, in the first paragraph of chapter 5, entitled "Cuba, the Third World and the Communist Bloc," Moore begins his exploration of Fidel's "schemes" with a long, detailed discussion of Hubert Matos, who was jailed for treason in 1959. Moore contends that Matos resigned from the army "over the issue of communism" and that the "Matos resignation was interpreted by the Caudillo as a challenge to his personal leadership."25 Further, Matos was then "dramatically arrested" and Fidel began to compare "men such as Hubert Matos to the slave owners of the past."26 Also, Moore questions Fidel's association of opposition, racism and anticommunism with counterrevolution.27

By not providing any historical context for these events, Moore implies that somehow Matos was a victim of large power schemes. Further, Fidel falsely evoked the analogy of slaveholders and imperialists in a drive to isolate noncommunists and to garner support among black Cubans.28 According to Moore,

Toward the end of 1959 Fidel Castro began to resort to the "Negro question in order to discredit his enemies, both domestic and foreign, and to enhance his messianic hold over Black Cuba. His first major use of the race issue as a weapon was to defeat opposing factions within his own movement and to consolidate himself as the sole arbiter of Cuba’s fate.29

Moore also suggests that any equation that places opposition, counterrevolution, imperialism, anticommunism, and racism on the same side is opportunistic. A general review of U.S. policy in Latin America and the Caribbean and events between 1959-1965 clearly indicate that Fidel Castro’s analysis had merit.

First, 1959 was a dramatic year. On January 1, President Batista boarded a plane to Miami. Many of his generals were captured, and on January 9, 1959, Fidel Castro marched into Havana where millions of Cubans greeted him. A few days later, mass graves of hundreds of victims of Batista’s army were uncovered. Cubans—rich and poor— demanded justice. Trials were held. Batista’s military officials openly spoke of having committed atrocities. Some were executed while others were imprisoned and a few sought asylum in the United States. Within two months it was evident that great changes were taking place in Cuba.

The full extent of change remained unclear for a few months. However, by May the basic direction of the Revolution was clear. That first comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law was officially enacted on May 17 and served as the culmination of the worst fears of the Cuban ruling class. The law, which restricted private ownership to 1,000 acres or less, liquidated huge plantations in a single stroke. If one considers that a small U.S. holding in Cuba at the time averaged 70,000 acres, one can imagine the reaction from U.S. firms.30 Additionally, the opening up of previously segregated restaurants, hotels, and beaches to blacks irritated North American businessmen and the white Cuban middle class, who were the primary clientele of such establishments.

It is within this context that Moore should begin his examination of opposition, racism, Hubert Matos, and Fidel’s assessment of counterrevolution. Moore neglects to mention three important developments that unfolded during the first half of this tumultuous year. First, there was a white backlash and fear among many white Cubans that black equality would negatively influence their personal lives.31 Second, it was evident to landowners and industrialists that—even though the revolution had not yet called itself socialist—the policies were clearly not based on a capitalist model of profit and individual enterprise. Disappointed were some members of the Cuban middle classes "who had imagined that they would be rewarded with wealth and privilege after the revolution."32 The slogan "Neither Black nor Red" began to appear; thus, contrary to Moore’s assessment, racism and anticommunism were, for many, on the same side of the equation. Finally, elements within the ruling class and disgruntled hopefuls from the middle class began a vicious campaign to thwart the Revolution, with increasing support from ruling circles in the United States.

The activities of disgruntled groups and within certain U.S. circles— bombings, invasion plots, sabotage, assassination attempts, and racist propaganda—between early in 1959. The Matos affair in autumn 1959 is what led Fidel to equate men such as Matos with slaveowners and imperialists of the past, and to equate anticommunism with opposition.33 Moore does not mention the fact that the Matos affair had been brewing for some days. Matos, who was the military commander in Camaguey, had been publicly denounced by local leaders for working with latifundists against implementation of agrarian reform. On the day of his arrest, an angry crowd had gathered outside the military garrison where Matos and his officers waited. Fidel emerged in the crowd, unarmed, and a highly unpopular Matos was taken as prisoner of the movement?’ On the same day as the arrest, ex—Cuban Air Force chief, José Luis Diaz Lanz, after denouncing the Revolution in the United States, returned to Cuba in a Mitchell B-25 bomber which is believed to have been provided by the CIA.35 Diaz Lanz provocatively dropped anticommunist flyers over Havana. Moore chooses to ignore these events. The "dramatic arrest" was more a result of the overall atmosphere rather than simply Fidel’s need to suppress noncommunists.

Absent from Moore’s analysis is the glaring emergence of anticommunism" as the catchall justification for bombings and U.S. opposition to the reforms. Wealthy U.S. and Cuban businessmen and latifundists began to use the red menace in the same way that they had manipulated the notion of the black peril to frighten white people away from the reforms.36 This was a plausible ploy, since Cubans, like North Americans, had been socialized within a capitalist system and had very little actual understanding of communism. But a majority did know that they supported the reforms.37

The. impetus for change was actually coming from below, not only from the top, as Moore contends.38 The people had not yet labeled their revolution, but there were organic instances of class struggle throughout Cuba. For the most part and for most people, it was a struggle over specific reform issues, not ideology in the abstract. But, as the year proceeded and the labeling process of the United States continued, more and more people began to associate anticommunism with incidents of bombings and opposition to reforms.

The international context of anticommunism in 1959 is never mentioned by Moore - not even once - even though stopping the alleged spread of communism had been a major domestic and foreign policy objective of the United States after 1945. By the 1950s anticommunism had been honed into an ideological weapon to be evoked against any movement that the United States government and its allies perceived as a threat to their interests. Anticommunism as a way to hamstring or destroy progressive movements within and outside the United States took on a particularly vicious character against Cuba, again something Moore only mentions in passing. During 1960, the United States embarked upon an economic, political, and ideological war against Cuba. Moore only mentions U.S. attacks as incidental to Cuba's emerging socialism and Fidel's positions on race.

Race as Foreign Policy

Constantly weaving his interpretive threads of Fidel as caudillo and race as a policy weapon, Moore moves into his final examination of Cuban foreign policy. He explores two themes in Cuban foreign policy history: Cuba's relations with people in the African diaspora and its emergence as a major participant in the anti-imperialist movement and within the Nonaligned Movement. The first variant of Cuba's relations within the diaspora focuses on the early relationship between the Cuban Revolution and African-Americans in the United States. According to Moore, the relationship was the result of Fidel's "exploitation of the American racial situation to further his own ends."39 Black Americans were "wooed" into supporting the Revolution not because certain advances had been made against institutional racism in Cuba but because they were "wonderstruck" and treated exaggeratedly well when they visited Cuba.40 Finally, there is almost no appreciation by Moore for the intensity of the contemporary movement for black rights in the United States and the impact it may have had on American perceptions of the Cuban Revolution.

The relationship between African-Americans in the United States and Cuba was well established by 1959-a history very well documented and totally ignored by Moore. From the early solidarity between North American and Cuban abolitionists to the cultural, peace, and sports movements of the twentieth century, Cubans and black Americans developed a warm relationship; Frederick Douglass and Henry Highland Garnet with Jos6 Martf and Antonio Maceo, Langston Hughes and Paul Robeson with Nicolás Guillén, and W.E.B. DuBois with Cubans in the peace movement. In addition, the Cuban Communist party campaigned in support of the Scottsboro Boys in the 1930s, and African-Americans and Cubans met on baseball diamonds and in sporting rings during the era of segregation in sports.41

Denying these historical roots, Moore situates the good relations between the Cuban Revolution and African-Americans within an unprecedented "Afrocentric" policy supposedly usurped by Fidel from a Cuban intellectual named Walterio Carbonell - a policy that, according to Moore, Fidel then twisted to his own ends,42 Moore maintains that in addition to a desire to manipulate ties with African-Americans, Fidel resided at the Hotel Theresa while in Harlem in 1960 in order to solidify relations with the "Afro-Asiatic Bloc" attending the opening session of the United Nations. Moore comments:

Raúl Castro's words signaled an entirely new direction in Castroite foreign policy. The "linkage" proposed in the "Carbonell Plan" had now became a fact: Cuba's domestic Africa, the U.S.'s little Africa," and continental Africa were now interconnected ethno-political factors in Havana's thinking. In that light, Castro's Harlem performance was not merely a propaganda stunt, but a major tactical victory on three fronts. Cuban Blacks had been made to feel that their Maximo Lider was being subjected by the Yankees to the same segregationist treatment they themselves had experienced for centuries. U.S. Blacks began to consider the bearded Hispanic from Havana as their personal liberator. And the leaders of the newly independent African states massed in New York for the Assembly meeting looked upon Castro with new eyes. The short- and long-term political gains for the Cuban revolution from Castro's Harlem performance were therefore incalculable.43

Moore's analysis of these first two years of Cuban foreign policy is marred by deceptive language. He contends that Fidel was pursuing an "entirely new direction." The Revolution, only one year old, was formulating its first policies. Further, there is no doubt that the revolutionary leader's brief residence at the Hotel Theresa positively influenced the solidarity felt between African-Americans, Africans, and the Cuban Revolution. However, Moore presents no documentation indicating that this was planned. One could argue that spontaneity, in fact, sharpened its significance.

Moore discusses at some length the relationship between Fidel and then popular African-Americans such as Robert Williams, Stokely Carmichael, and Malcolm X. He suggest that because the socialist doctrine of the Cuban Revolution differed with some aspects of the Black Power philosophy, Fidel was dishonest to invite its proponents to Cuba. Moore further surmises that' the only reason that Fidel initiated a relationship with especially the Black Power leaders was to involve them in anti-American activity.44 Without providing any verifiable information, Moore asserts that Fidel prodded Williams to prepare black Americans for "kamikaze" actions should there be a strike at the Revolution. According to Moore, Fidel wanted Williams to ready the southern anti-Klan watch group (the Deacons of Defense) for such activities.45 Williams and Malcolm X were also encouraged to recruit black Americans to participate in wars in Africa.

Cuba's desire for a relationship with African-Americans and newly independent Africa is reasonable, given their historic relation to racism and colonialism. However, Moore chooses to render racism and colonialism insignificant. He totally disregards the groundswell of fresh agendas brought about by the changing composition of the United Nations. Instead, he utilizes the paradigm of race and opportunism to argue that Fidel first "discovers Black Africa," and "co-opts" the "Black Americal Black Africa linkage" to his own advantage.46 Fidel then walks "into black Africa through the door of ethnicity."47 Moore maintains that Africa was viewed by Cuban leaders as "a zone of vital national security interests" and their intention was geared toward exporting revolution." In addition, he suggests that Fidel and Che remained so wedded to their prejudice that racism defined the level of assistance and aid provided for African movements and countries.49 According to Moore, the African countries and national liberation movements thai received support were those that had as members mulattoes, Arabs, or Africans of mixed descent. Without any documentation to uphold such a claim, Moore maintains that Algeria, the MPLA of Angola, the PAIGC of Guinea Bissua, FREELIMO of Mozambique, and the Zanzibar UMMA party received special consideration from the Cuban Revolution because of their racial composition.50 Similar to his implication that Fidel did not have a right to stay at the Hotel Theresa because he was virtually white, Moore also intimates that people like Marcelinos Dos Santos of FREELIMO or Lucio Lara of the MPLA should not have been included in African liberation movements because they were lighter skinned.51

But Cuba extended assistance to African nations and movements with little racial diversity, a fact that Moore cannot deny. Thus, he contends aid was provided in these instances solely because of Fidel's paternalism. He implies that Cuban involvements in the Congo and in Angola were opportunistic and not in response to appeals by the movements and countries themselves. Cuba's overall policy of international solidarity is never examined in Moore's book.52 Instead, he scrutinizes the experiences of a small number of African students educated in Cuba during the 1960s who noticed aspects of racism in Cuban society.53 Such problems were predictable, given the realities of 1960 Cuba, but Moore never interprets the broader issue of why Cuba initiated a policy of educating tens of thousands of African youth at no cost to the country of origin.54 Cuba's growing international involvement was directly tied to the anticolonial movements that unified many peoples of color in Asia,. Africa, and the Americas. Yet Moore narrowly argues that "extranational" "intervention" was undertaken to "court Africa" partly to undermine the "natural" role that could be played by African-Americans in the African independence process and partly to counter Chinese influence in Africa.55 He portrays Cuban activity in the Nonaligned Movement, the Afro-Asian peoples Solidarity Organization (AAPSO), and the Organization of Solidarity, of the Peoples of Africa, Asia and Latin America (OSPAAL) as intrusive and opportunistic and a product of Castro's personal dislike for the Chinese. In fact, according to Moore "Castro's open hostility toward China in the mid-1960s," played no small part in determining policy.56 Strangely, Moore deduces that "Guevara's tactical sinophilia quite probably had to contend with Castro's own reportedly ingrained sinophobia."57 Moore never discusses the political, economic and ideological disputes that emerged between Cuba and China, nor does he refer to the fact that these disputes were not isolated from general ideological debates taking place within the general Nonaligned Movement.58 Many nations and movements debated the issue of "equidistance" from Western and socialist countries and a definition of "genuine" nonalignment. More specifically, Maoist philosophies, Chinese support of UNITA, and China's invasion of Vietnam were topics for discussion at numerous Nonaligned Movement summits. Against all of Moore's insinuations, Cuba was not unique in its differences with China.59


Castro, the Blacks and Africa, is basically a series of far-reaching generalizations embellished with isolated stories and heavily suggestive language. Very little if any evidence is harnessed to support such statements as: "A great number of Pan African intellectuals suffer from humiliation over Cuba's involvement in Africa;" [Cuba is] destabilizing the southern African situation"; and "[Fidel has been on a] quest for political lebensraum."60 Instead, Moore presents in great detail the dates and places of specific conversations among individuals that took place over twenty years ago but almost totally excludes relevant contextual, historical, and well-documented information. He also neglects to mention the current opinions of persons to whom he refers in his examination of the 1960s. One would expect Moore to use popular culture and oral histories as part of his research, since he is an ethnologist. But, he gives no indication of his research methodology or ethnographic collections. His style reads more like a polemical essay or book of second-hand memoirs (since he does not present himself in the text) than a book of scholarship.

Moore's refusal to see any themes other than race and racism thrusts him into strange corners of analysis. In these corners, reality is distorted and simplistic answers to complex issues made palatable. His unwillingness to recognize class, nation, and international political economy as equally important agents in history is especially problematic when talking about the Cuban Revolution and national liberation.61 Serious scholars, objective political analysts, and members of national liberation movements for the most part reject a narrow racialistic view because it does not fully explain the world in which we live. The only place where such a view has historically sustained a small but significant following has been in the United States and in South Africa.62

Moore appears to be making a racialistic appeal especially to African-Americans by skillfully messaging the bitterness and frustration caused by centuries of white supremacy and racism. The fact the UCLA's Center for African-American Studies published the book and well-known popular black Americans endorsed it is further indication that the targeted audience must be black Americans. Yet, in Moore's relentless drive to prove the Cuban revolution to be racist, he denigrates the very black readership he has targeted by doing such poor scholarship on such an important subject as race and racism.

White supremacy, in all of its manifestations, has not been eradicated in Cuba, even though important advances have been made. The reprocluction of such an ideology in Cuba's thirty-year-old Revolution needs to be examined carefully and objectively against the backdrop of initial radical improvements in the material lives of black Cubans, recognition of black cultural contributions to Cuban society, and continued economic crisis. This seems to be the scholar's task, and Moore has not met it. It is simply impossible to glean from Castro, the Blacks and Africa an in-depth understanding of Fidel Castro, the experiences of black and mulatto Cubans as a whole, or Cuba's relationship with Africa and peoples in its diaspora.


1. We use the term black to describe all those Cubans of obvious African descent. Some people considered mulattos in the Cuban context would be considered black in the United States, Great Britain, and South Africa. Since mulattos and blacks have been historically discriminated against in Cuba, albeit at times to differing extents, we have chosen to use the term black to define all those who perceived themselves as victims of racial discrimination. When a distinction between mulatto and black is necessary for historical clarity, we explain as best we can the historical intent and context.

2. Johnetta Cole, "Race Towards Equality: The impact of the Cuban Revolution on Racism," Black Scholar 11 (November-December 1980). 2-24; René Depestre, "Letter From Cuba," Présence Africaine (1965). 123-56; Andrew Salkey, Havana Journal (Har. mondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin, 1971); Elizabeth Sutherland, The Youngest Revolution: A Personal Report on Cuba (New York: Dial Press. 1969); David Booth, "Cuba, Color and the Revolution," Science and Society 40 (Summer 1976), 129-72.

3. Moore uses Hispanic to define Cubans of obvious Spanish descent whom he considers to be white.

4. Moore, p. 13.

5. Carlos Franqui, Diary of the Cuban Revolution, trans. Georgette Felix, Elaine Kerrigan, Phyllis Freeman, and Hardie St. Martin (New York: Viking Press, 1980).

6. Moore quotes this on p. 9. This quote can be found in Franqui, Diary of the Cuban Revolution, p. 199.

7. Moore, p. 10; Franqui, Diary of the Cuban Revolution, p. 202.

8. Franqui. p. 135. it is clear upon review of letters and notes from Pais and Franqui that they do have some tactical differences with Fidel about how open they should be about their goals. Their discussion is not about Fidel's character. For a good discussion, see Marta Harnecker, Fidel Castro's Political Strategy: From Moncada to Victory (New York: Pathfinder Press, 1987).

9. Moore, p. 30.

10. Victor Franco, The Morning After: A French Journalist's Impressions of Cuba Under Castro, trans. Ivan Kats and Philip Pendered (New York: Praeger, 1963). p. 79.

11. Moore, p. 37.

12. See Lionel Martin. The Early Fidel: Roots of Castro's Communism (Secaucus. N.J.:

Lyle Stuart, 1978); Tad Szulc, Fidel: A Crirical Portrait (New York: Avon, 1986).

13. See Marianne Masferrer and Carmelo Mesa-Lago, "The Gradual integration of the Black in Cuba: Under the Colony, the Republic and the Revolution," in Slavery and Race in Latin America, ed. Robert B. Toplin (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood, 1974). pp. 348-84; and Oscar Lewis, Ruth Lewis, and Susan Rigdon, Four Men: Living the Revolution: An Oral History of Contemporary Cuba (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1977); Four Women: Living the Revolution: An Oral History of Contemporary Cuba (Urbana: University of Illinois Press,. 1977); and Neighbors: Living the Revolution: An Oral History of Contemporary Cuba (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1978).

14. Moore, p. 5.

15. ibid.

16. Ibid., p. 51.

17. This issue is discussed in Sheldon B. Uss, Roots of Revolution: Radical Thought in Cuba (Uncoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1987); Ramón Eduardo Ruiz, Cuba: The Making of a Revolution (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1968); and Maurice Zeitlin, Revolutionary Politics and the Cuban Working Class (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1967).

18. Moore, p. 14.

19. For a good discussion, see Louis A. Perez. Jr.. "Politics, Peasants and the People of Colour: The 1912 'Race' War in Cuba Reconsidered," Hispanic American Historical Review 54 (August 1986) 509-39.

20. Moore, p. 51.

21. Ibid.

22. Historical issues on race are raised in David Booth, "Cuba, Color and the Revolution," Science and Society 40 (Summer 1976) 129-72; Herbert S. Klein, African Slavery in Latin America and the Caribbean (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1986); Franklin Knight, Slave Society in Cuba During the Nineteenth Century (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1970); and Verena Martinez-Alier, Marriage, Class and Colour in Nineteenth-Century Cuba: A Study of Racial Atitudes and Sexual Values in a Slave Society, 2d ed. (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1989).

23. Sec Erwin Epstein, "Social Structure, Race Relations and Political Stability under

U.S. Administration," Revista/Review interarnericana 8 (Summer 1978), 192—203; Robert A. Hoernel, "Sugar and Social Change in Oriente, Cuba, 1898—1946," Journal of Latin American Studies 8 (November 1976), 215—49.

24. See Phillip Foner, Antonio Maceo: The "Bronze Titan" of Cuba’s Struggle for Independence (New York: Monthly Review Press, 1977); Donna M. Wolf, "The Cuban Gente de Color and the Independence Movement, 1879—1895," Revista/Review Interamericana 5 (Fall 1975); 403—21; Rebecca 3. Scott, Slave Emancipation in Cuba: The Transition to Free Labor, 1860—1899 (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1985); Esteban Montejo, Autobiography of a Runaway Slave, trans. Jocasta Innes, ed. Miguel Barnet (New York: World Publisher, 1969).

25. Moore, p. 57.

26. Ibid., pp. 57—58.

27. Ibid., p. 58.

28. Ibid., pp. 58—59.

29. Ibid., p. 57.

30. Terrence Cannon, Revolutionary Cuba (New York: Thomas W. Crowell, 1981), p. 116.

31. For a discussion of this issue, see Depestre, "Letter From Cuba," pp. 123—56. This was not new. Spanish colonialists and plantation owners had adopted the "black peril" issue before and during the independence wars in an attempt to split the multiracial effort. A similar scare was encouraged during the uprisings of 1912 as a way to discourage white peasants from joining black peasants. During the early stages of the Revolution, the bourgeoisie and petty-bourgeoisie propagated the notion of the black rapists and looters as a way to stir up fear among white Cubans. Such tactics are reminiscent of those used during and after Reconstruction in the U.S. South.

32. Cannon, Revolutionary Cuba, p. 117.

33. Moore, p. 58.

34. Hugh Thomas, Cuba, in Pursuit of Freedom (London: Eyre & Spottiswoode,

1971), pp. 1212—14, 1256; Herbert L. Matthews, Revolution in Cuba: An Essay in Understanding (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1975), pp. 138—44.

35. Cannon, Revolutionary Cuba, p. 117.

36. See Depestre, "Letter from Cuba."

37. See Lloyd Free and Hadley Cantril, Attitudes of the Cuban People Toward the Castro Regime in the Late Spring of 1960 (Princeton, NJ.: Institute for International Social Research, 1960).

38. Perez, Cuba: Between Reform and Revolution, pp. 313—36; Matthews, Revolution in Cuba: An Essay in Understanding, pp. 121—44.

39. Moore, p. 62.

40. Ibid., pp. 59, 61.

41. See Johnetta Cole, "Afro-American solidarity with Cuba." Black Scholar 8 (Summer 1977), 73—80; Gerald Home, Black and Red: W.E.B. DuBois and the Afro-American Response to the Cold War, 1944—1963 (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1986); and W.E.B. DuBois, The Autobiography of WE.B. DuBois (New York: International Publishers, 1968).

42. Moore, p. 76.

43. Ibid., p. 80.

44. Ibid., p. 62.

45. Activities of the Deacons of Defense are discussed in Robert Cohen, Black Crusader: A Biography of Robert Franklin Williams (Secaucus. N.J.: Lyle Stuart. 1972). pp. 90—131, 156—87; and Robert Williams, Negroes With Guns (New York: Marzani and Munsell, 1962), pp. 115—24.

46. Moore, pp. 71, 185.

47. Ibid., p. 164.

48. Ibid., p. 166.

49. As partial evidence of racism, Moore claims that Che and Fidel were known for disliking drumming and dancing, p. 209.

50. Moore, pp. 65, 181, 247, 326, 329.

51. Ibid., pp. 209—48.

52. Ibid., p. 209.

53. Ibid., p. 131.

54. Others do; see Jean Stubbs, Cuba: The Test of Time (London: Latin American Bureau, 1989); Kenneth Kaunda. "Remarks at the Reception in His Honor," Gramma Weekly Review 1 June 1989 and 18 June 1989, pp. 1—2; Nelson P. Valdés, "Revolutionary Solidarity in Angola," Cuba in the World, ed. Cole Blasier and Carmelo Mesa-Lago (Pittsburgh, PA.: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1979), pp. 87—117.

55. Moore, p. 162. Moore credits the idea of presenting to the UN a document on the position of black Americans and the proposition that African-Americans get involved in Africa to Malcolm X. He further states that this position was stolen and used by Fidel and Che to get involved in the Congo. There had many such proposals. Moore never mentions the William Patterson document, "We Charge Genocide," presented in 1951 to the United Nations. It was supported by W.E.B. Du Bois and Paul Robeson. Du Bois also presented such material to international bodies.

56. Moore, p. 70.

57. Ibid., pp. 69—70.

58. See Speech by Fidel Castro at the Fourth Conference of Nonaligned Nations. Al. giers, 7 September 1973, in The Cuban Revolution, National Liberation and the Soviet Union: Two Speeches by Fidel Castro (New York: New Outlook Publishers, 1974), pp.6-13.

59. For a discussion of some of the disputes, see Ian Cristi, Machel of Mozambique (Harare: Zimbabwe Publishing House. 1988); Ministry of Foreign Affairs—Socialist Republic of Vietnam, The Truth About Vietnam-China Relations Over the Last 30 Years (Hanot: Ministry of Foreign. Affairs of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, 1979); Kaysone Phomvihane, Revolution in Laos (Moscow: Progress, 1981).

60. Moore, pp. 4, 352, 349. There is no evidence to support Moore’s views of Cuban involvement in southern Africa. Neither is their evidence of great numbers of Pan African intellectuals writing against Cuban solidarity with Africa. The only intellectual quoted by Moore and who is noted for this position is Ali Mazrui. See Ali Mazrui. "MicroDependency: The Cuban Factor in Southern Africa," India Quarterly 37 (1981). 329—45.

61. In addition, Moore never discusses the historical roots of racism or illustrates any understanding of the differences in the development of racial consciousness in North America and Latin America,

62. For some highlights on the debate, see Henry Winston, Strategy for a Black Agenda (New York: International Publishers, 1973); Gail M. Gerhart, Black Power in South Africa. The Evolution of an Ideology (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1978).

For another response to Carlos Moore's work, see also Pedro Perez Sarduy's "An Open letter to Carlos Moore".

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