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Cuba pot Castro
Fidel Castro Ruz (1926-2016):
Race in Cuba

Fidel and Raul Castro grew up on their father's farm where they were in close contact with AfroCubans and Haitians. This is documented in Gloria Rolando's film Reembarque, which features an extensive interview with a Haitian worker who played baseball with the brothers. Fidel often cited this early experience as a marker for his political development:

Castro Town: Fidel grew up here, but he came back to destroy it  12/3/2016 WaPo: "Haitian laborers did most of the hard work in the cane fields. They lived in thatched-roof huts on the property, and Fidel Castro would later tell his many biographers that their exploitation by his father and other white landowners kindled his revolutionary zeal. “He saw those Haitians living in poverty. Who would have guessed it would make such a big impression on him?” said Pedro Rodriguez, 91, who attended first grade with Fidel at the one-room schoolhouse on the property."

Fidel's first attempts to deal with racism after the triumph of the Revolution in 1959 were based on classic leftist economic measures, opening up jobs and education. After 1962, the problem of racism was declared resolved and the topic became taboo as there was a fear it could be used by the US to divide and conquer, as an empire is want to do. For a while this worked well as generations of AfroCuban doctors, engineers, scientists, lawyers and other professionals were educated and joined the workforce. But then came the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the subsequent Special Period, which placed a great stress on all in Cuba. Tourism started to become more important and the hard currency jobs this entailed went massively to white Cubans. Remittances from white Miami became ever increasingly important, and were not available to AfroCubans. Fidel, Raul, and others breached the taboo and began talking about race.

Fidel's first speech on racism after the Revolution came March 23, 1959: Live speech by Premier Fidel Castro at Havana labor rally.

Devyn Benson discusses this in her book Antiracism in Cuba:

"During a heated televised interview on 25 March 1959, just three days after his first speech announcing the revolution’s campaign to eliminate racial discrimination, Cuban leader Fidel Castro had to defend his intentions against naysayers who disapproved of the new government’s integration plans. Castro recounted what he saw as a troubling event. He described a recent rally where audiences cheered wildly when he discussed lowering telephone taxes, reducing rents, and opening private beaches; yet the same crowd fell silent, or “made ugly faces” when he talked about “helping the negro.” After asking what the difference was between one injustice and the other, the young leader of the 26th of July Movement (M 26-7) concluded that the discrepancy resulted from “people who call themselves Christian and who are racist . . . people who call themselves revolutionaries but are racist . . . [and] people who call themselves good but are racist.”

By openly critiquing Cubans for their hypocrisy and silence on racial inequality and publicly addressing the problems of people of color, Castro distinguished himself and other revolutionary leaders from past regimes. Cuba’s state-sponsored campaign to eliminate racial discrimination began officially in March 1959, in response to pressure from Afro-Cuban groups demanding that racial justice be included in emerging revolutionary policies." -- muse.jhu.edu/chapter/1758015

The year 1960 saw Fidel going to Harlem where he met with Malcolm X:

Malcolm X and Fidel: 1990 Symposium in Havana  www.brothermalcolm.net: With audio and video tracks. Includes video of of Fidel talking to the delegates. Photogallery of Fidel - Malcom X meeting in 1960.Includes presentations by Nancy Morejon, Kwame Toure, Rogelio Martinez Fure, Osvaldo Cardenas, and many others.

La interacción entre Malcolm X y el movimiento revolucionario de la posguerra/The Interaction between Malcolm X and the Postwar Revolutionary Movement
http://www.brothermalcolm.net/2002/mx_1990/session1.htm
Scroll down for audio.

Fidel & Malcolm X: Memories of a Meeting, Rosemari Mealy

AfroCuban journalist Reynaldo Peñalver Moral helped arrange this meeting and attended it, we have a photo of Peñalver and Malcolm X.

In May 1961, the government sought to eliminate racial segregation by nationalising all clubs and associations. They did shut down whites only clubs,  but this also affected black and mixed race clubs, as well as ethnic based self help associations - Spanish, Arab, Chinese. This shut down was likely based on Republicanismo, rooted in the French Republique of 1789, where citizenship is all that matters and ethnic identity is denied.The many Spanish associations as well as the Arab and Chinese ones were at some point later allowed to reconstitute themselves, but not any of the AfroCuban ones.

Then, as Estaban Morales puts it in his Race in Cuba: Essays on the Revolution and Racial Inequality: "While Fidel Castro made a straightforward attack on the existing racial discrimination in Cuba in the speech he delivered in March 1959, with the Second Declaration of Havana, issued in 1962, the matter was put aside and forgotten. Not until the severe economic crisis that struck the island in the 1990s did this prolonged silence about race begin to be broken."

The issue of race was given special attention in the proceedings of the Fifth Cuban Communist Party Congress (October, 1997):  "in the present we must continue the consolidation of the fair policy of promoting blacks and women, especially as cadres, in the same way that has been occurring with youth, without being mechanical.  This is a policy that guarantees the moral authority of the Party before our people. The Party must insist in the application of that policy in all spheres of society."

Fidel comments on race relations in Cuba increased after the fall of '98, with the UNEAC Meeting, Nov '98.

 In the beginning of January, '99, Fidel met for 3 hours with TransAfrica and again for 6 hours in February with the leadership of the Congressional Black Caucus.   He has had more of a tendency to deal with the issue head on than others in the government, standing as an exception to the classic Cuban denial ("we're all Cubans here").  In February '99 he was reported to be discussing the topic on several occasions:

5 de febrero, '99: discurso, Pedagogia '99

Discurso en febrero '99

Subsequents comments on race include:

Speech at Riverside Baptist Church, NY, 9/8/00

Fidel Castro's speech in Durban, 9/1/01

Appearance on Cuban TV, Mesa Redonda, 1/17/03

Fidel Castro Ruz, at the closing session of the Pedagogy 2003 Conference, 2/7/03

Fidel Castro Ruz, en la clausura del Congreso Pedagogía 2003, 2/7/03

Fidel was never a pure marxist. As he remarked to the Liberation Theologist Leonardo Boff: <I was an intern with the Jesuits for several years; they gave me discipline but did not teach me how to think. In jail, reading Marx, I learned to think. Due to the Northamerican pressure I had to make a rapprochement to the Soviet Union, but if I had had at that time a theology of liberation, I would most certainly had embraced it and applied it in Cuba.>

In Cuba today, the main pressure against taking racism seriously comes from cultural factors and from Republicanismo, the French derived ideology Marti adopted where everyone is equal, so there can be no racism. Very little pressure seems to come from the old line marxist thinking that class trumps race.

In August '99, Fidel's brother Raul Castro was reported to have gotten angry at a high level meeting at the lack of progress on racism in Cuba.  In 2009, this anger was more manifest:

From a speech discussing racism and sexism in Cuba, reported in  Granma: "Personally, I consider the insufficient advance on this matter in 50 years of Revolution to be a disgrace": Es preciso caminar hacia el futuro, con paso firme y seguro, porque sencillamente no tenemos derecho a equivocarnos, 12/21/09

Note: Fidel Castro's mother was said to be 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. This is discussed in 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. This assertion is unverified.

Some reactions to Fidel's passingtop

Cábalas de a pie  12/4/2016 On Cuba: "San Jerónimo afirmaba que el número nueve indica sufrimiento y dolor en la Biblia. Sin embargo, esta tradición no tiene su origen en el libro santo, sino que se inspira en una costumbre griega y romana que celebraba nueve días de duelo por los difuntos o para apaciguar a los dioses. También a los nueve días, pero en el entorno de la santería cubana, se realiza la ceremonia conocida como Oro ilé Olofi, “misa cantada que se dice en la iglesia por el eterno descanso del olocha (hijo de santo) desaparecido”, según recoge Lydia Cabrera en su célebre libro El monte."

Fidel Castro's Legacy On Race Relations In Cuba And Abroad  12/3/2016 NPR: Interview with Mark Sawyer, UCLA - "I think we need to look at Castro's mistakes of not allowing black pressure groups, not pursuing more rigid anti-discrimination policies as failures, but that he came as close as anybody has ever come to eliminating racial inequality in a place that had had plantation slavery."

Castro Town: Fidel grew up here, but he came back to destroy it  12/3/2016 WaPo: "Haitian laborers did most of the hard work in the cane fields. They lived in thatched-roof huts on the property, and Fidel Castro would later tell his many biographers that their exploitation by his father and other white landowners kindled his revolutionary zeal. “He saw those Haitians living in poverty. Who would have guessed it would make such a big impression on him?” said Pedro Rodriguez, 91, who attended first grade with Fidel at the one-room schoolhouse on the property." [Gloria Rolando has documented the Haitians on the Castro finca in her film Reembarque.]

Revolutionary Road: Navigating Fidel Castro’s Polarizing Legacy  12/2/2016 The Root: An extensive article featuring an interview with AfroCubaWeb columnist Alberto Jones. Touches on Cuban and Black Cuban relations with Black Americans, as well as the justified execution of Batista torturers and murderers.

Reviewing "African-Americans should stop lionizing Castro as champion of black liberation" by Kimberly R Lyle  12/2/2016 AfroCubaWeb: by Alberto Jones - "Jose Marti, the father of the Cuban nation warned his people with these prophetic words: Ignorance Kills the People. One hundred and fifty years later, I read a hearsay laden article from another born-again Cubanologist, Kimberly Lyle, who has received her information from ultra-right wing Cuban Americans in Miami* and may have read an article or two on Afro Cuba here and there. In addition, she pretends ironically enough to write without basis about my home town Guantanamo!"

African-Americans should stop lionizing Castro as champion of black liberation  12/2/2016 Fusion: by Kimberly R. Lyle. - "My uncles passed down their stories too. One uncle, once a successful chemist, was left homeless and starving after the government punished him for seeking permission to leave the country. Another uncle refused to work sugarcane fields for free. Instead, he hid in the mountains until he could flee the island. A cousin who left Cuba almost a decade ago expressed how angry he was that he had to leave his own country to be a free man."

A Bandung Conference in Harlem: The Meaning of Castro’s Visit Uptown  12/1/2016 AAIHS: "Held in Indonesia from April 18–25, 1955, the Bandung Conference marked the first major articulation of the nonaligned movement. It voiced a shared commitment to anticolonialism and self-determination, carving out a third path beyond the bipolar struggle between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. Richard Wright summed up the goals of the conference through the terse phrases of a newspaper article: “The West is excluded. Emphasis is on the colored nations of the world . . . Colonialism is out. Hands off is the word. Asia is free. This is perhaps the greatest historic event of our century.”"

'We Learned a Lot from Fidel': Supporters Defend Castro's Legacy  11/29/2016 NBC 

After Surviving 600 Assassination Attempts & Outlasting 11 U.S. Presidents, Fidel Castro Dies at 90  11/28/2016 Democracy Now 

Expert on Race in Cuba Weighs in on Castro Legacy  11/28/2016 Davidson College: "When the Soviet Union fell in 1989 and Cuba's economy fell apart with it, Cubans of African descent experienced that crisis more harshly than their white counterparts because of difficulties getting jobs in the new tourist economy; and their white counterparts benefited financially from money they received from the largely white Cuban exile population. Most recently, a variety of Afro-Cuban anti-racist groups have taken the lead in fighting vocally against discrimination in the workforce, media and upper political positions. This group of intellectuals will continue that work no matter who is in power in the United States or Cuba because that is what Afro-Cubans have done since the late 19th century."

BBC World News: Remembering Fidel Castro with Cuban poet Pedro Perez Sarduy  11/28/2016 BBC: "Pedro Perez Sarduy is a poet, writer, journalist and broadcaster who worked for Cuban radio 1965-79 and with the BBC Latin-American Service 1981-94. He's now based in London. He spoke to BBC World News Anchor Lebo Diseko about Cuba’s Latin-African identity, AfroCuban culture and racism, slavery and Cuba’s close ties with African countries." See also a 2nd segment: vimeo.com/193318150

Castro Had Secret Role In Infamous Wells Fargo Robbery  11/27/2016 Hartford Courant: "It would take years of investigation, defections and admissions by conspirators before the complete picture emerged: Acting on a long-held grievance over what he considered the continuing colonial exploitation of Puerto Rico by the U.S., Castro allowed his country's diplomatic and intelligence services to finance and support a sensational robbery of $7 million from a Wells Fargo depot in West Hartford."

Colin Kaepernick clarifies remarks on Fidel Castro  11/27/2016 USA Today: "In the postgame press conference following the 49ers’ 31-24 loss to the Miami Dolphins, Kaepernick was asked about his remarks, which were interpreted by some as a sign of support for the longtime leader of Cuba. "What I said was I agree with the investment in education," Kaepernick said. "I also agree with the investment in free universal health care, as well as the involvement in helping end apartheid in South Africa."

Lessons from Fidel: Black Lives Matter and the Transition of El Comandante  11/27/2016 Black Lives Matter: "As a Black network committed to transformation, we are particularly grateful to Fidel for holding Mama Assata Shakur, who continues to inspire us. We are thankful that he provided a home for Brother Michael Finney Ralph Goodwin, and Charles Hill, asylum to Brother Huey P. Newton, and sanctuary for so many other Black revolutionaries who were being persecuted by the American government during the Black Power era. We are indebted to Fidel for sending resources to Haiti following the 2010 earthquake and attempting to support Black people in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina when our government left us to die on rooftops and in floodwaters. We are thankful that he provided a space where the traditional spiritual work of African people could flourish, regardless of his belief system."

Fidel Castro was an unwavering champion of racial equality  11/26/2016 NY Daily News: "Okay, the media failed supremely in not realizing Americans could elect an empty-headed, knee-jerk liar as President. But, still, I say the greatest media shortcoming of the past half century was not recognizing that Fidel Castro was the most dedicated and powerful proponent of racial justice the world has ever known."

Black America and the Passing of Fidel Castro  11/26/2016 Alternet: by Bill Fletcher, Jr. - "For any Black American who knows anything about the history of the Western Hemisphere, both Cuba and Haiti have a special significance. Haiti, of course, for successfully ousting the French in 1803 and forming the second republic in the Americas; a Black republic. Cuba, in 1959, kicked out the USA, the Mafia, and a corrupt ruling class that had enforced racist oppression against most of the Cuban population."

Black Radicals Owe a Great Deal to Fidel Castro  11/26/2016 The Root: "Don Rojas, a longtime activist who was a former press secretary for Grenadian Prime Minister Maurice Bishop, a Marxist revolutionary politically inspired by Castro, remembers this era well in an email comment this afternoon: “His concrete support to the liberation struggles in Southern Africa will go down in the annals of history as one of the most amazing demonstrations of solidarity in modern history.”

Articles/Artículostop

Lessons from Fidel: Black Lives Matter and the Transition of El Comandante  11/27/2016 Black Lives Matter: "As a Black network committed to transformation, we are particularly grateful to Fidel for holding Mama Assata Shakur, who continues to inspire us. We are thankful that he provided a home for Brother Michael Finney Ralph Goodwin, and Charles Hill, asylum to Brother Huey P. Newton, and sanctuary for so many other Black revolutionaries who were being persecuted by the American government during the Black Power era. We are indebted to Fidel for sending resources to Haiti following the 2010 earthquake and attempting to support Black people in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina when our government left us to die on rooftops and in floodwaters. We are thankful that he provided a space where the traditional spiritual work of African people could flourish, regardless of his belief system."

Colin Kaepernick clarifies remarks on Fidel Castro  11/27/2016 USA Today: "In the postgame press conference following the 49ers’ 31-24 loss to the Miami Dolphins, Kaepernick was asked about his remarks, which were interpreted by some as a sign of support for the longtime leader of Cuba. "What I said was I agree with the investment in education," Kaepernick said. "I also agree with the investment in free universal health care, as well as the involvement in helping end apartheid in South Africa."

Castro Had Secret Role In Infamous Wells Fargo Robbery  11/27/2016 Hartford Courant: "It would take years of investigation, defections and admissions by conspirators before the complete picture emerged: Acting on a long-held grievance over what he considered the continuing colonial exploitation of Puerto Rico by the U.S., Castro allowed his country's diplomatic and intelligence services to finance and support a sensational robbery of $7 million from a Wells Fargo depot in West Hartford."

Fidel Castro was an unwavering champion of racial equality  11/26/2016 NY Daily News: "Okay, the media failed supremely in not realizing Americans could elect an empty-headed, knee-jerk liar as President. But, still, I say the greatest media shortcoming of the past half century was not recognizing that Fidel Castro was the most dedicated and powerful proponent of racial justice the world has ever known."

Black Radicals Owe a Great Deal to Fidel Castro  11/26/2016 The Root: "Don Rojas, a longtime activist who was a former press secretary for Grenadian Prime Minister Maurice Bishop, a Marxist revolutionary politically inspired by Castro, remembers this era well in an email comment this afternoon: “His concrete support to the liberation struggles in Southern Africa will go down in the annals of history as one of the most amazing demonstrations of solidarity in modern history.”

Black America and the Passing of Fidel Castro  11/26/2016 Alternet: by Bill Fletcher, Jr. - "For any Black American who knows anything about the history of the Western Hemisphere, both Cuba and Haiti have a special significance. Haiti, of course, for successfully ousting the French in 1803 and forming the second republic in the Americas; a Black republic. Cuba, in 1959, kicked out the USA, the Mafia, and a corrupt ruling class that had enforced racist oppression against most of the Cuban population."

The History Behind Colin Kaepernick's Shirt of Malcolm X and Fidel Castro  8/31/2016 Latina: "While the two never met again, there's no doubt that this was an extremely powerful meeting of the minds. The fact that Kapernick decided to wear a shirt of these two seemingly different leaders coming together and admiring each other's work toward racial equality is super symbolic and inspiring."

When Malcolm X Met Fidel Castro  8/30/2016 Slate: "San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who has recently decided not to stand during the national anthem, wore a Malcolm X hat and a T-shirt featuring images of the leader meeting with Fidel Castro at a press conference where he explained his protest."

Fidel Castro and Apartheid  2/24/2015 CounterPunch: "In the American version of Cold War history, Cuba was carrying out aggression and acting as proxies of the Soviet Union. Were it not for one persistent and meticulous scholar, we might never have known that these are nothing more than dishonest fabrications. In his monumental books Conflicting Missions and Visions of Freedom, historian Piero Gleijeses uses thousands of documents from Cuban military archives, as well as U.S. and South African archives, to recount a dramatic, historical confrontation between tiny Cuba and Washington and its ally apartheid South Africa. Gleijeses is the only foreign scholar to have gained access to the closed Cuban archives. He obtained thousands of pages of documents, and made them available to the Wilson Center Digital Archive, which has posted the invaluable collection online."

Why black Americans love Fidel Castro  12/20/2014 Quartz: "It was I who in 1987 first reported that Shakur had actually escaped to Cuba and was residing there, protected by Castro. I spent several days with Shakur at her apartment and walking along the Malecón; my Newsday colleague, photographer Ozier Muhammad, photographed her as she posed provocatively outside the US Interests Section, hands up in victory."

Raúl Castro admite la persistencia de discriminación por raza y género  12/21/2009 Diario de Cuba: "El general Raúl Castro reconoció este domingo la persistencia de la discriminación por raza y género en la Isla. Es "una vergüenza el insuficiente avance en esta materia en 50 años de revolución", admitió al clausurar la sesión anual de la Asamblea Nacional del Poder Popular."

Eugene Godfried Calls on Fidel Castro for Reflection and Action concerning the 1912 Massacre: YouTube Video  9/26/2007 AfroCubaWeb  

 

Links/Enlaces top

Malcolm X and Fidel: 1990 Symposium in Havana  www.brothermalcolm.net: With audio and video tracks. Includes video of of Fidel talking to the delegates. Photogallery of Fidel - Malcom X meeting in 1960.Includes presentations by Nancy Morejon, Kwame Toure, Rogelio Martinez Fure, Osvaldo Cardenas, and many others.

La interacción entre Malcolm X y el movimiento revolucionario de la posguerra/The Interaction between Malcolm X and the Postwar Revolutionary Movement
http://www.brothermalcolm.net/2002/mx_1990/session1.htm
Scroll down for audio.

Fidel & Malcolm X: Memories of a Meeting, Rosemari Mealy

Castro and the Cuban Negro, Juan René Betancourt, Crisis (NAACP), May 1961, PDF  Discusses Fidel's closing of the Social Clubs.

By Eugene Godfried: The African Cuban Diaspora’s Cultural Shelters and Their Sudden Disappearance in 1959,  8/04

Fidel's first reception in Cuba after the Granma landing: at the home of Chicha, messenger for the Mambi, 12/1956

 

Fidel at 80: Confidential Memories by Leonardo Boff, Theologian, 8/11/06top

 What I am going to reveal here will irritate or scandalize those who do not like Cuba or Fidel Castro. That does not worry me. If you do not see the light of the star in the darkest night, it is not the star's fault; but yours.

Because of my book, Church: Charisma and Power, in 1985, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger subjected me to <obsequious silence>. I accepted the sentence, and quit teaching, writing and speaking in public. Months later, I was surprised to receive an invitation from Commandant Fidel Castro, asking me to spend two weeks with him on the Island, during his vacation. I accepted immediately, because I saw an opportunity to resume the critiquing dialogues that we had enjoyed several times previously, together with Frei Betto.

I headed to Cuba, and reported to the Commandant. In my presence, he immediately called the Apostolic Nuncio with whom he had cordial relations, and said to him: <Eminence, here is Brother Boff, who will be my guest for two weeks. As I am disciplined, I will not allow him to talk with anyone, nor give interviews, this way he will observe what the Vatican wants of him: obsequious silence. I will see to it that that is respected.> And so it was.

During those two weeks, whether by car, airplane or ship, he showed me the whole Island. Simultaneously, with total freedom, we conversed about a thousand topics: politics, religion, Marxism, revolution and also critiques of the deficiencies of democracy.

The nights were devoted to long meals, followed by serious discussions that often lasted into the early morning. Some times until 6 a.m. Then, he would stand up, stretch, and say:<now I am going to swim for some 40 minutes; and after that, I will go to work.> I would write down what we had talked about and then, go to sleep.

Some topics of our fellowship seem relevant to me. First of all, Fidel's persona. He is larger than the Island. His Marxism is more ethical than political: how to do justice to the poor? Then, there is his knowledge of the theology of liberation. He has read a mountain of books, all of them with notes, lists of terms and of doubts that he would clarify with me. I once told him: <If Cardinal Ratzinger understood half of what you understand of the Theology of Liberation, my personal destiny and the future of this theology would be very different.> And in that context, he confessed: <I am ever more convinced that no Latin American revolution will be true, popular and triumphant, if it does not incorporate the religious element.> Perhaps due to this conviction, he had practically forced Frei Betto and myself to give successive lessons on religion and Christianity to the whole second echelon of Government; some times, with all the ministers present. Those courses were decisive for the Government in dialoguing and coming to a sort of <reconciliation> with the Catholic Church and all the other religions in Cuba.

Finally, there was his confession: <I was an intern with the Jesuits for several years; they gave me discipline but did not teach me how to think. In jail, reading Marx, I learned to think. Due to the Northamerican pressure I had to make a rapprochement to the Soviet Union, but if I had had at that time a theology of liberation, I would most certainly had embraced it and applied it in Cuba.> And he finished: <If one day I return to the faith of my childhood, it will be by the hands of Brother Betto and Brother Boff> We reached moments of such solidarity that we could have easily prayed the Our Father together.

I had written 4 thick notebooks about our dialogues, but in Rio de Janeiro my car was attacked, and they took everything. The book I had imagined can never be written, but I treasure the memory of the unforgettable experience of a Head of State, worried about the dignity and the future of the poor.

Leonardo Boff

08-11-2006

 Free translation from the Spanish sent  by volar_2004@yahoo.com.ar, served by  contacto@servicioskoinonia.org; done at REFUGIO DEL RIO GRANDE, Texas

Fidel Castro Ruz, at the closing session of the Pedagogy 2003 Conference, 2/7/03top

"Many blacks think that this is a historic speech and that the Cuban press has not given it the same exposure as they have the president's other speeches. Even black dissidents have saulted this speech." - BBC

Ideas are the essential instrument in the battle of our species for its own survival

SPEECH GIVEN BY FIDEL CASTRO RUZ, FIRST SECRETARY OF THE CENTRAL COMMITTEE OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY OF CUBA AND PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCILS OF STATE AND MINISTERS, AT THE CLOSING SESSION OF THE PEDAGOGY 2003 CONGRESS IN THE KARL MARX THEATER, FEBRUARY 7, 2003: YEAR OF THE GLORIOUS ANNIVERSARIES OF MARTÍ AND THE MONCADA.

Translation of the Typescript Version of the Council of State

... One of the cruelest sufferings to afflict human society — and I mention it intentionally, for reasons that will become clear later — is racial discrimination. Slavery, imposed by bloodshed and the gun on men and women uprooted from Africa, lasted for centuries in many countries of this hemisphere, including Cuba. Millions of Native Indians were likewise forced to endure it.

While science incontestably demonstrates the real equality of human beings, discrimination persists. Even in societies such as the Cuban one, which emerged from a radical social revolution in which people were able to attain full and complete legal equality and a revolutionary level of education that cast out the subjective component of discrimination, this continues to exist in another form. I would describe it as objective discrimination, a phenomenon associated with poverty and the historic monopoly of knowledge.

Due to its characteristics, objective discrimination affects black people, those of mixed race and whites; in other words, those who historically made up the poorest and most marginalized sectors of the population. Although slavery was formally abolished in our homeland 117 years ago, men and women subjected to that abominable system continued living for close to 75 years (up until the Revolution triumphed) as apparently free workers in huts and shacks in rural areas and the cities, where large families shared one bedroom, without schools or teachers, in the worst-paid jobs. Many very poor white families who migrated from the rural areas to the cities experienced a similar fate.

The sad thing is to observe how poverty, associated with a lack of knowledge, tends to reproduce itself. Other sectors, mostly from very humble backgrounds, but with better living and working conditions, were able to take advantage of study possibilities created by the Revolution, and now make up the bulk of university graduates, and who likewise tend to reproduce their improved social conditions derived from education.

Put more bluntly and fruit of my own observations and reflections: having radically changed our society to a degree that women, who previously experienced terrible discrimination and for whom only the most humiliating jobs were available, are today a decisive and prestigious segment of society constituting 65% of the country’s technical and scientific force (APPLAUSE), well beyond the rights and guarantees attained by all citizens of any ethnic origin, the Revolution has not achieved the same success in the struggle to eradicate differences in the social and economic status of the country’s black population, even though this sector has an important role in many highly significant areas, including education and health.

On the other hand, in our search for full justice and for a much more humane society, we have observed something that would appear to constitute a social law: the inversely proportional relation between knowledge and culture and crime.

Without going any deeper into this phenomenon, it has been noted that the sectors of the population still living in the marginal neighborhoods of our urban communities, and those with less knowledge and culture are the ones who swell the ranks of the great majority of young prisoners, whatever their ethnic origin. From this it can be deduced that even in a society that is characterized as being the most just and egalitarian in the world, certain sectors are called on to occupy the places most in demand in the best educational institutions, to which entry is through one’s personal file and examinations, where the influence of the knowledge attained by the family nucleus is reflected, and later to take on the most important responsibilities. But children in other sectors with a lower index of knowledge, for the reasons already outlined, generally drift to educational centers that are less in demand and less attractive, constitute the largest percentage of those who abandon their studies at intermediate secondary level, gain a lower number of university places and have a high profile in the ranks of young people imprisoned for common crimes.

Moreover, the majority of this latter group come from broken homes and live with their mother or their father or neither of the two. That does not occur to the same extent when the dissolved nucleus is of parents with a university education or who are academics.

As education is the instrument par excellence in the search for equality, well being and social justice, you can better understand why I qualify what is currently taking place in Cuban education in search of higher objectives as a profound revolution. It is the total transformation of society itself, one of whose fruits will be a general integrated culture accessible to all citizens. More than 100 programs are linked to those objectives which, together with the Battle of Ideas are currently underway, and some of them have already become promising realities.

The very material future of our people is to be based on knowledge and culture. In the midst of a colossal world economic crisis, our country is advancing on various fronts in those contexts. We are already at the point of reducing unemployment to less than three percent, technically speaking a country with full employment.

More than 100,000 young people aged 17 to 30 who were neither studying or working are currently enthusiastically attending courses to refresh and extend their knowledge, and for which they receive remuneration. (APPLAUSE)

Possibly the boldest decision recently adopted has been that of converting study into a form of employment, a principle that made it possible to close down 70 sugar mills — the least efficient ones — whose hard-currency costs were in excess of the income they generated.

Computer teaching begins at the kindergarten stage and audiovisual aids are being extensively used. For the use of those aids, solar panels, at minimal cost and expense, supply the necessary power to 100% of rural schools lacking electricity.

New educational TV channels are being developed and through them, the University for All program is imparting language and many other courses with growing prestige, apart from material for schools.

The annual Book Fair now has 30 venues in the island’s largest cities. An explosion is taking place in the arts. Close to 12,000 young people are currently studying in 15 Arts Teacher Training Colleges after a rigorous selection process. Thousands of social workers are graduating every year.

Believe me that I have confined myself to citing very few programs; but I should note that higher education is no longer solely university based. Colleges are being developed at municipal level throughout the country for young people and workers, so that they do not have to move to the larger cities. Almost without us noticing it, the old concepts of higher education have disappeared.

New ideas and initiatives are moving ahead with impressive force...

For full text, see
www.granma.cu/documento/espanol03/003.html

For the first media discussion of this speech, see

Advierten sobre racismo en Cuba  2/13/03 BBC Mundo: "Los negros cubanos viven en peores casas, tienen los trabajos más duros y menos remunerados y, por si esto fuera poco, reciben entre 5 y 6 veces menos remesas familiares que sus compatriotas blancos. Por primera vez, el propio presidente de Cuba, Fidel Castro, reconoció en un discurso que la revolución no había logrado erradicar "las diferencias en el estatus social y económico de la población negra del país". Muchos negros piensan que se trata de un discurso histórico y se quejan de que los medios de prensa no le han dado la difusión que tienen las demás intervenciones públicas del presidente cubano. Incluso disidentes negros saludaron este discurso. "Es interesante que el presidente cubano haya reconocido que hay racismo, porque existen muchos que pretenden ocultarlo", dijo Manuel Cuesta, uno de estos disidentes."

Fidel Castro Ruz, en la clausura del Congreso Pedagogía 2003, 2/7/03top

Muchos negros piensan que se trata de un discurso histórico y se quejan de que los medios de prensa no le han dado la difusión que tienen las demás intervenciones públicas del presidente cubano. Incluso disidentes negros saludaron este discurso. - BBC

El futuro desarrollo de nuestra educación tendrá una enorme connotación política, social y humana

Discurso pronunciado por el Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro Ruz, Primer Secretario del Comité Central del Partido Comunista de Cuba y Presidente de los Consejos de Estado y de Ministros, en la clausura del Congreso Pedagogía 2003, en el teatro "Carlos Marx", el 7 de febrero del 2003, "Año de gloriosos aniversarios de Martí y del Moncada".

... Entre los más crueles sufrimientos que afectan a la sociedad humana —y lo menciono deliberadamente, como se explicará después— está la discriminación racial. La esclavitud, impuesta a sangre y fuego a hombres y mujeres arrancados de África, reinó durante siglos en muchos países de este hemisferio, entre ellos Cuba. Millones de nativos indios la padecieron igualmente.

Mientras la ciencia de forma incontestable demuestra la igualdad real de todos los seres humanos, la discriminación subsiste. Aun en sociedades como la de Cuba, surgida de una revolución social radical donde el pueblo alcanzó la plena y total igualdad legal y un nivel de educación revolucionaria que echó por tierra el componente subjetivo de la discriminación, ésta existe todavía de otra forma. La califico como discriminación objetiva, un fenómeno asociado a la pobreza y a un monopolio histórico de los conocimientos.

La discriminación objetiva, por sus características, afecta a negros, mestizos y blancos, es decir, a los que fueron históricamente los sectores más pobres y marginados de la población. Abolida aunque sólo fuera formalmente la esclavitud en nuestra Patria hace 117 años, los hombres y mujeres sometidos a ese abominable sistema continuaron viviendo durante casi tres cuartos de siglo como obreros aparentemente libres en barracones y chozas de campos y ciudades, donde familias numerosas disponían de una sola habitación, sin escuelas ni maestros, ocupando los trabajos peor remunerados hasta el triunfo revolucionario. Otro tanto ocurría con muchas familias blancas sumamente pobres, que emigraban del campo a las ciudades.

Lo triste es observar que esa pobreza, asociada a la falta de conocimientos, tiende a reproducirse. Otros sectores, de clase humilde la inmensa mayoría, pero en condiciones mejores de vivienda y trabajo, así como mayores niveles de conocimientos, que pudieron aprovechar mejor las ventajas y posibilidades de estudios creadas por la Revolución e integran hoy el grueso de los graduados universitarios, tienden igualmente a reproducir sus mejores condiciones sociales vinculadas al conocimiento.

Dicho con palabras más crudas y fruto de mis propias observaciones y meditaciones: habiendo cambiado radicalmente nuestra sociedad, si bien las mujeres, antes terriblemente discriminadas y a cuyo alcance estaban sólo los trabajos más humillantes, son hoy por sí mismas un decisivo y prestigioso segmento de la sociedad que constituye el 65 por ciento de la fuerza técnica y científica del país (Aplausos), la Revolución, más allá de los derechos y garantías alcanzados para todos los ciudadanos de cualquier etnia y origen, no ha logrado el mismo éxito en la lucha por erradicar las diferencias en el status social y económico de la población negra del país, aun cuando en numerosas áreas de gran trascendencia, entre ellas la educación y la salud, desempeñan un importante papel.

Por otro lado, en nuestra búsqueda de la más plena justicia y de una sociedad mucho más humana, hemos podido percatarnos de algo que parece constituir una ley social: la relación inversamente proporcional entre conocimiento y cultura y el delito.

Sin tratar de exponer todavía con más extensión y profundidad este fenómeno, se ha podido ver que los sectores de la población que viven todavía en barrios marginales de nuestras comunidades urbanas, y con menos conocimientos y cultura, son los que, cualquiera que sea su origen étnico, nutren las filas de la gran mayoría de los jóvenes presos, de lo cual podría deducirse que, aun en una sociedad que se caracteriza por ser la más justa e igualitaria del mundo, determinados sectores están llamados a ocupar las plazas más demandadas en las mejores instituciones educacionales, a las que se accede por expediente y exámenes, donde se refleja la influencia de los conocimientos alcanzados por el núcleo familiar, y más tarde ocupar las más importantes responsabilidades, mientras otros sectores, con menor índice de conocimientos cuyos hijos suelen asistir por las razones expuestas a centros de estudio menos demandados y atractivos, estos constituyen el mayor número de los que desertan del estudio en el nivel medio superior, alcanzan un menor número de plazas universitarias y nutren en una proporción mayor las filas de los jóvenes que arriban a las prisiones por delitos de carácter común.

La mayoría de estos últimos adicionalmente proceden de núcleos que se han disuelto y viven con la madre, con el padre, o con ninguno de los dos. No ocurre igual si el núcleo disuelto es de padres graduados en las universidades o son intelectuales.

Como la educación es el instrumento por excelencia en la búsqueda de la igualdad, el bienestar y la justicia social, se puede comprender mejor por qué califico de revolución profunda lo que hoy, en busca de objetivos más altos, tiene lugar con la educación en Cuba: la transformación total de la propia sociedad, uno de cuyos frutos será la cultura general integral, que debe alcanzar a todos los ciudadanos. A tales objetivos se vinculan más de cien programas, que junto a la Batalla de Ideas se llevan adelante, algunos convertidos ya en prometedoras realidades.

La propia vida material futura de nuestro pueblo tendrá como base los conocimientos y la cultura. Con ellos nuestro país, en medio de una colosal crisis económica mundial, avanza en distintos frentes. Estamos ya a punto de reducir a menos del tres por ciento el desempleo, lo que técnicamente se califica como un país de pleno empleo.

Más de cien mil jóvenes entre 17 y 30 años que no estudiaban ni disponían de trabajo, hoy asisten de manera entusiasta a los cursos donde refrescan y multiplican sus conocimientos, por lo cual reciben una remuneración.

Tal vez la más audaz decisión adoptada en fecha reciente ha sido la de convertir el estudio en una forma de empleo, principio bajo el cual se han podido dejar de utilizar 70 fábricas azucareras, las menos eficientes, cuyos costos en divisas convertibles superaban los ingresos que producían.

La enseñanza de la computación se inicia en la edad preescolar. Se utilizan exhaustivamente los medios audiovisuales. Para el uso de estas técnicas, los paneles solares, con un costo y gasto mínimos, suministran la electricidad necesaria al ciento por ciento de las escuelas rurales que carecían de ella.

Se crean nuevos canales educativos. A través de ellos, el programa Universidad para Todos imparte cursos de idiomas y otros muchos de variadas materias y creciente prestigio, aparte de programas escolares.

Las Ferias anuales del Libro se realizan ya en las 30 mayores ciudades del país. Tiene lugar una explosión de la cultura artística. En 15 Escuelas de Instructores de Arte, casi 12 mil jóvenes cursan estudios después de rigurosa selección. Miles de trabajadores sociales se gradúan cada año.

Créanme que me limito a citar un número muy reducido de programas; pero no debo dejar de señalar que la enseñanza de nivel superior ha dejado de tener por sede únicamente a las universidades. En todos los municipios del país se desarrollan escuelas donde se imparte estudios universitarios a jóvenes y a trabajadores, sin necesidad de moverse a las grandes ciudades. Apenas sin darnos cuenta, viejos conceptos acerca de la educación superior han desaparecido.

Nuevas ideas e iniciativas se abren paso con impresionante fuerza...

Por lo demas, vease
www.granma.cu/documento/espanol03/003.html

Por el primero tratamiento del discurso ese en la media, vease:

Advierten sobre racismo en Cuba  2/13/03 BBC Mundo: "Los negros cubanos viven en peores casas, tienen los trabajos más duros y menos remunerados y, por si esto fuera poco, reciben entre 5 y 6 veces menos remesas familiares que sus compatriotas blancos. Por primera vez, el propio presidente de Cuba, Fidel Castro, reconoció en un discurso que la revolución no había logrado erradicar "las diferencias en el estatus social y económico de la población negra del país". Muchos negros piensan que se trata de un discurso histórico y se quejan de que los medios de prensa no le han dado la difusión que tienen las demás intervenciones públicas del presidente cubano. Incluso disidentes negros saludaron este discurso. "Es interesante que el presidente cubano haya reconocido que hay racismo, porque existen muchos que pretenden ocultarlo", dijo Manuel Cuesta, uno de estos disidentes."

Appearance on Cuban TV, Mesa Redonda, 1/17/03top

Nuestra única alternativa es la victoria
La justeza del voto unido como estrategia revolucionaria
Por: María Julia Mayoral

"Hace falta una victoria enérgica y contundente que muestre al enemigo nuestra fuerza y unidad, cuando quiere dividirnos, debilitarnos, desmoralizarnos", ese fue el llamado de Fidel a los millones de cubanos que este domingo participarán en la elección directa de los diputados y los delegados provinciales del Poder Popular.

El Comandante en Jefe retomó, en la Mesa Redonda Informativa, los conceptos que expusiera en una carta enviada al pueblo el 20 de febrero de 1993 en ocasión de la primera elección directa de este tipo, pues las ideas desarrolladas en aquella oportunidad conservan plena vigencia.

El voto unido, recordó al leer la carta, no es una consigna, es una estrategia revolucionaria. No es un acto de disciplina, es un acto de conciencia. Debe hacerse no porque se solicita en nombre de la Patria, sino porque se comprenda a fondo que la Patria lo necesita. Es lo que haría posible la elección de muchos de los que constituyen nuestros más modestos y humildes candidatos, los menos conocidos a pesar de sus méritos.

El líder de la Revolución también consideró que nuestras elecciones, bajo métodos nuevos, creativos y tan democráticos como jamás se han empleado en el mundo, forman parte de la lucha por la supervivencia de los valores que más amamos.

Nuestras armas esenciales, ratificó, son las ideas. Ninguna podrá superar jamás en justicia y dignidad las que nosotros defendemos. Patria, Revolución, Socialismo son cosas demasiado sagradas para jugar con ellas, disparar contra ellas o clavarles por la espalda el puñal traicionero con que quiere el imperialismo matar nuestras esperanzas y destruir nuestra obra. No serán despedazadas nuestras conquistas sociales ni serán desenterrados de sus tumbas nuestros muertos heroicos. El ejemplo y la esperanza que hoy Cuba constituye para el mundo no pueden ser defraudados. Nuestra única alternativa es la victoria.

Al inicio de su intervención, Fidel señaló el excelente trabajo realizado por las comisiones de Candidaturas y Electoral, el apoyo brindado por todas las instituciones, organizaciones de masas y por el pueblo al proceso electoral.

No creo que ninguna otra elección, dijo, ha sido tan bien preparada y organizada como esta, al poderse recoger la experiencia que se va acumulando y al elevarse el nivel cultural, la preparación y la conciencia de nuestro pueblo, cuando llevamos más de tres años de intensa Batalla de Ideas. Y eso, pienso, debe reflejarse en estas elecciones.

Al retomar lo explicado en la Mesa por Ernesto Freire y Juan Vela, presidentes de las comisiones nacionales de Candidaturas y Electoral, respectivamente, Fidel valoró que entre los candidatos a diputados hay en esta ocasión un número de graduados universitarios y de nivel medio superior, crece la presencia femenina, así como de la de negros y mestizos, lo cual es fruto de la obra educacional y de justicia social desarrollada por la Revolución.

En la Asamblea Nacional constituida en 1993, el porcentaje de negros y mestizos era de 28,36%, en el Parlamento que resultó de las elecciones generales de 1997-98, esa proporción fue de 28,29 y ahora representan el 32,84% de los candidatos a diputados.

Es alentador, consideró, porque tenemos completa convicción de que irá creciendo en la medida en que factores objetivos y subjetivos vayan siendo superados y los vamos a seguir superando cada vez a un ritmo mayor.

Sobre la participación femenina, Fidel destacó que ellas constituyen el 35,96% de los candidatos a diputados. Es un avance significativo, apuntó, si se tiene en cuenta que aproximadamente el 65% de la fuerza técnica del país son mujeres. Comentarios similares hizo el Comandante en Jefe acerca del nivel de preparación de los postulados para ocupar un escaño en el Parlamento. El 80,95% de ellos tiene instrucción universitaria y sumados con los que poseen estudios de enseñanza media superior, representan el 99,01% del total de 609.

El Presidente de los Consejos de Estado y de Ministros recordó que en Cuba los candidatos surgen del pueblo. Son los ciudadanos mediante las asambleas para nominar a los posibles delegados de circunscripción y por medio de sus organizaciones de masas y estudiantiles, quienes realizan las propuestas, sin intervención del Partido. El Partido aquí no propone ni postula a nadie.

Comparó ese ejercicio democrático con lo que ocurre en otras partes del mundo, donde son los partidos los que elaboran las listas de candidatos y ubican en los primeros lugares de esas relaciones a quienes ellos quieren que salgan electos.

Según apuntó hay otros factores determinantes para marcar las diferencias, y el número uno, dijo, es el dinero, que resulta ser el gran elector. Con ese dinero crean estados de opinión de la misma manera que se hace para vender un refresco, una cerveza, un automóvil... cualquier artículo de los millones que se venden en el mercado. Si esto no fuera verdad, que los estados de opinión se crean, no se gastarían anualmente en el mundo mil millones de dólares en publicidad.

Ninguno de estos factores, advirtió, están presentes en nuestras modestas elecciones. En otros lugares, las calles, los postes y muchos sitios públicos se llenan de carteles de todo tipo. Aquí no hay ni un solo pasquín, solo aparecen las biografías y las fotos de aquellos a los que el pueblo propone, sin la intervención del Estado, sin la intervención del Partido.

Como una creación genuinamente criolla, cubana, calificó Fidel a otro de los rasgos distintivos de nuestras estructuras representativas del Estado: el hecho de que hasta el 50% de las asambleas provinciales y nacional del Poder Popular deben quedar integradas por delegados de circunscripción. Algo que no ocurre en ningún otro país y es expresión clara de la democracia socialista que defendemos.

El Comandante en Jefe explicó además que la cifra de electores inscritos hasta el nueve de enero (8 276 866) es superior a la cantidad de ciudadanos con derecho al sufragio que respaldaron con sus firmas el carácter irrevocable del Socialismo en Cuba, pero de todas formas se cumplirá la promesa de revisar el porcentaje de firmantes en apoyo a la modificación constitucional, una vez que estén listos los datos del reciente censo de población y viviendas. El resultado de ese nuevo cálculo, según reafirmó, será informado al pueblo.

En la Mesa Redonda Informativa también se ofrecieron detalles acerca de los preparativos en cada territorio para las votaciones de mañana 19 de enero, las cuales serán sin duda otro triunfo de la Revolución y el Socialismo.

CUBA-PEDAGOGIA, 2/99top

Speech given by the President of the Republic of Cuba, Dr. Fidel Castro Ruz, at the inauguration ceremony for the Intensive Training Course for Comprehensive Junior High School Teachers. Karl Marx Theater, September 9, 2002.
www.cuba.cu/gobierno/discursos/2002/ing/f090902i.html

============================
Prensa Latina - Habana, Cuba
============================

CUBA-PEDAGOGIA
AFIRMA FIDEL QUE EN CUBA AUN EXISTE DISCRIMINACION

La Habana, 5 feb (PL) El presidente cubano Fidel Castro afirmo hoy que despues de 40 anos de Revolucion, aun existen en Cuba razgos de discriminacion heredados de la etapa esclavista, los cuales pueden percibirse en el ingreso de jovenes a cursar estudios universitarios.  Durante la clausura del congreso Pedagogia 99, el mandatario cubano senalo que con la ocupacion norteamericana de la isla a principios de siglo, se introdujeron muchas costumbres entre las que se incluyo la discriminacion racial.

La revolucion encontro una sociedad mas discriminitaria que lo que fue la sociedad colonial, recalco.  Puntualizo que la exclavitud dejo la realidad de una grave pobreza, la cual obstaculizo el desarrollo de este sector de nuestra poblacion que vivia en las peores casas, sin posibilidades de acceso a las escuela y con salarios miserables.   Con el triunfo de enero de 1959 -preciso- se hicieron nuevas leyes, se abrieron todos los club exclusivos y discriminatorios, todas las playas, se echaron por tierra todas las manifestaciones de discriminacion. Se extendieron los derechos a todos los ciudadanos del pais sin excepcion, se acabaron las escuelas donde no podian ingresar ninos negros y se establecio lo que consideramos la mas plena igualdad del hombre.

Pensamos que decretar la igualdad de derecho absoluto habia sido suficiente para borrar estas secuelas, sin embargo, hoy se observa que los sectores mas pobres son todavia aquellos descendientes de los esclavos.

Fidel Castro senalo que antes del triunfo revolucionario existia  en la isla una cultura de la pobreza y de la riqueza, donde las capas medias eran fundamentalmente blancas, tenian mas preparacion y mejores condiciones de vida material. Las personas con mayores niveles de educacion -agrego- influyen en sus hijos porque les ensenan, los repasan, les exigen. De igual forma se va transmitiendo la pobreza.

Ratifico que por mucho que sea otorgada la igualdad ante la ley, por muchas que sean las prerrogativas, las mejores notas provienen de los nucleos familiares dirigidos por profesionales. Destaco que esto no significa que no se haya avanzado en estos anos, sino que a pesar de esa igualdad de posibilidades para todos, es dificil llevar a cabo una revolucion porque implica cambiar la sociedad. Jhb/sc

[c] 1999. Agencia Latinoamericana de Noticias Prensa Latina, S.A. (PL)

Discurso en febrero, 1999top

En otro tema delicado, el líder cubano admitió también que los problemas raciales no se han eliminado totalmente en Cuba a pesar de las reformas jurídicas de su gobierno que prohiberon la discriminación en 1959.

"Aún se observa que los sectores más pobres dentro de una sola sociedad socialista son todavía aquellos descendientes de los esclavos", y añadió: "¡Qué difícil es una revolución; qué difícil es cambiar una sociedad!"

Castro dijo que el racismo se ejemplifica más que nada en Estados Unidos y es un producto lógico del capitalismo y otros sistemas sociales explotadores.

Recordó que en su juventud se entristecía al observar a los negros comiendo carne humana en las películas de Tarzán y a los mexicanos reflejados invariablemente como sirvientes sumisos o villanos en las cintas de Hollywood. 

- discurso, 5 de febrero

UNEAC Meeting, November '98top

Fidel Castro, in an extended discussion with the Union of Artists and Writers (UNEAC) in Nov '99, once again addressed the topic of Cuban identity, touching upon issues of race in the context of globalization.

[we are looking for quotes here]

The Pope's Visit, 1/98top
http://www.standardnewspapers.com/cubanvisit.html
From the Chicago Standard Newpapers

The Pope's Cuban visit: racism vs the Afro-Cuban legacy

On Wednesday, January 21, 1998, the head of the Catholic church made history. For the first time in his life John Paul II set foot on Cuban soil. The Pope's visit to the Island nation just 90 miles due south off Miami, Florida, was not without some controversy--primarily from white, anti-Castro Cubans that were transplanted to this country over thirty years ago.

It is the contention of these Cuban expatriates, residing primarily in Miami, that Cuba under President Fidel Castro (Cuba's only president since the Revolution of 1959), is not free. The Pope's plane set down at Marti Airport as Castro now 71 years old waited to greet the pontiff. Donned in a striking blue suit, Castro cast a towering presence greeted the frail 77 year old Pope who kissed the dirt presented to him in tray by four young girls as a traditional ceremonial gesture.

Pope Paul II critical of the plight of Catholics in the Island Nation told Castro that "it is clear that human rights are fundamental rights and the foundation of all civilization. I brought this conviction and this engagement of human rights...with me from Poland in confrontation with the Soviet Union and with the Soviet system, a communist totalitarian system."

Castro speaking out against the U.S. embargo and sanction said, "Today, Holy Father, genocide is attemtpted against Cuba. The total economic suffocation imposed to subdue people who refuse to accept the dictates of the mightiest political and economic power."

Most white controlled media fail to report Castro's description at the airport of the early history of slavery, racism, and oppression by the white land owners of Cuba. He spoke of the inequalities that existed between the Afro-Cubans which make up nearly 50% of the population achieved greatly under the revolution. (One couldn't help to see the many Black Cuban soldiers at the ceremonies.)

It is ironic that one of the greatest legacies of Castro goes unreported in the white press while only the stories of the former white plantation owners are continuously reported from south Florida and parts of New York. Castro has been one of the few men who has attempted to deal with the question of race, racism, and economic exploitation. Castro recognized these inequalities and passed the Race Law in the early 1960s making it a crime to overtly discriminate or denigrate a person's race with the penalty of 1 to 20 years. The result was the exodus of white Cubans, both Christians and Jews from Cuba after 1962. This was followed by the Double Pay Law.

Again, Castro realized to bring about material equity with the elite and privileged white classes, Afro-Cubans were paid double pay for their labor or services for 20 years. This led to another exodus to the U.S., mostly white middle class Cubans who today demand their property and privileges back. During the late 70s other Cubans left which included a few Black Cuban athletes.

No one can refute the level of health care and education that many Afro-Cubans have received plus the opening to many leels of government for these once despised macheteros. Their standard of living is much higher in spite of the economic sanctions of the U.S. which is considered racist and genocidal by Castro and other leaders of the West and non-Western worlds. The question of racism and white oppression against people of color is seldom raised by Black Congressmen and Congresswomen. Is this because of their fear of going against white PACs whose interest may conflict with those of the Third World, or are they just that naive? Their quietness should be challenged at every point when the interest and destiny of African people are threatened wherever in the world they may be.

So the question remains which Castro and which Cuba are we talking about? Will the Black Americans line up on the correct side of history? Do they know the history of the negro puppet, Fulgencio Baptista who was scorned by some of the very people who now hang out in South Florida as Negrophobes. All one has to do is ask what are the relations between these white Cubans and the Black community. We say, Viva! Jose Martinez and Alberto Campos.

Fidel's first reception in Cuba after the Granma landing, 12/1956top

Leocadia Garzón (Chicha), a descendant of slaves, who was a messenger for the Liberation Army (los Mambises) in the War of Independence against Spain. Her thatched home was the first Fidel reached; there he received his first help.
 

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