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FBI Harrassment: 7/99

Cuba Solidarity Organizations

Although this is changing, most solidarity organizations have little participation from people of African descent. There are a number of reasons for this:

  • The US media has had very little emphasis on the fact that over 70% of Cubans are of African origin and that Cuba is a storehouse of African cultural treasures.  Many African Americans are unaware of this.
  • Cuban culture itself does not promote an awareness of how African Cuban culture is, for a variety of reasons. See Cuban resources on Race & Identity.
  • There has historically been suspicion in some US leftist circles of "Black Nationalism." This was a topic of the '98 Black Radical Congress (, which brought together different points of view: "revolutionary nationalism, feminism and socialism." It has been a sore point at least since the 1961 exile to Cuba of Robert F. Williams, later the first president of the Republic of New Afrika.  In Cuba, he explained to an interested Che about how some of the old leftists then coming to Cuba were marginalizing black people in the US, saying they had no power and could do nothing.

As we move into an endgame on the embargo, it is more important than ever for US solidarity organizations to reach out to the African American community as a means of counteracting the pressures on AfroCubans noted below. There are signs that a number of them are doing that.  The embargo endgame can currently be characterized by:

  • The continued development of Cuba's tourist sector as a predominantly white affair.   Eurotourist organizations from Europe and Latin America fund hotels and preferentially hire white Cubans.  As the tourism sector revenue is at about $1 billion, this has a disproportionate impact on the racial balance in Cuba, one which the government finds difficult to combat.
  • Serious exploratory participation by major US corporations, who, once they are working in Cuba, may extend the preferential white hiring to other sectors.
  • Continued participation of the largely white exiled Cubans in Cuba's economic life via family remittances.  These remittances are used to fund private enterprise in Cuba and currently are at about $800 million/year.
  • The virtual absence of African American businesses in the ongoing widespread exploration of business opportunities in Cuba, with the exception of the recent visit by the Congressional Black Caucus, which had some businessmen in the entourage.
  • The recent attempted pre-emption of the racial issue by Cuban Americans of the right who have a new-found concern for AfroCubans.  Curiously enough, this new concern is not mirrored in their in-country attitudes, as can attest many African Americans in South Florida who have complained bitterly for years about the high levels of racism they experience. This pre-emption even seems to be moving onto Radio Marti's agenda....

These trends will continue to exacerbate what has become a more delicate racial balance in Cuba, where white Cubans benefit from tourism and remittances from abroad while the government, with limited resources, is less able to support AfroCubans and they are left to hustle in the streets, often illegally. Consequently they wind up in disproportionate numbers in Cuban jails, a fact recently discussed by Fidel Castro on the occasion of TransAfrica's visit to Cuba in January '99.  And of course Miami is trying to take advantage of this.

TransAfrica's media campaign, which started with a presentation on BET Tonight, the talk show on Black Entertainment Television, is very supportive of Cuba and shows that much thought has gone into the positions taken.  The TransAfrica visit is a hopeful sign of the much needed mobilization of African Americans around the Cuba issue and may well stand as a watershed event. There are more than 30 million African Americans in the US and only 1 million Cuban Americans, whose political life has been hijacked by a wealthy, racist extreme right minority.  The TransAfrica visit has been followed by a February visit from a 6 member Congressional Black Caucus delegation, including the Chair, Vice Chair, and Whip.  TransAfrica has made available its Cuba Report on the disproportionate impact the embargo has had on AfroCubans.

For more discussion of the US based solidarity mouvements discourse on race, see the Smithsonian's James Early: TALKING RACE IN THE REVOLUTION

Listing of Cuba Solidarity Organizations

Center for Cuban Studies Located in New York, has many books, CDs, pieces of art available for sale. Held a great AfroCuban art show last fall.
Congressional Black Caucus Long has had an interest in Cuba, now getting more active with the February visit of a 6 member CBC delegation that includes the Chair, Maxine Waters, and the Vice Chair and Whip.
Congressman Charles Rangel The point person for Cuba activity within the Congressional Black Caucus, Congressman Rangel represents Harlem.  A measure of his impact is that right wing Cuban Americans spent over $500,000 to unseat him several years back and failed miserably as their contributions became an issue in his district.
The Cuban American Alliance The Cuban American Alliance Education  Fund, Inc., (The Alliance) is a national nonprofit organization that works for family reunification, educates legislators on issues affecting the welfare of Cuban Americans, and favors engagement as the best way to promote democratic values and assistance to family and friends in Cuba.  The Alliance publishes a Spanish/English newsletter, La Alborada, which is distributed to individuals interested in U.S.-Cuban affairs. Its board of directors features Dr. Alberto N. Jones, Director of the Caribbean American Children Foundation and member of the West Indian Welfare Society.
Cuba Central is a joint project sponsored by organizations working to change U.S. policy from a strategy of confrontation to one of normalized relations and common sense between the United States and Cuba. Included are groups fighting for repeal of the ban on legal travel by Americans to Cuba as well as organizations with wide-ranging interests in reforming policy toward Cuba and other nations in the Hemisphere.

These include:

The Center for International Policy
The Latin America Working Group
Global Exchange
Witness for Peace
Marazul Tours
Cuba Travel USA
US-CUBA Sister Cities Association
Presbyterian Church (USA), Washington Office
Fund for Reconciliation and Development
American Friends Service Committee
The United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society
NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby
The Washington Office on Latin America
Cuban American Alliance Education Fund, Inc.
Puentes Cubanos
Milwaukee Coalition to Normalize Relations with Cuba
IFCO/Pastors For Peace Web Site

see also:


The folks who run the Friendshipment aid caravans.  IFCO (Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization) has as Executive Director an African American, Rev. Lucius Walker.  In 1988, a regularly scheduled passenger ferryboat in Nicaragua was brutally attacked by contra forces. An IFCO study delegation was on that ferry, along with 200 Nicaraguan civilians. Two were killed and 29 were wounded in the attack -- including IFCO Executive Director Rev. Lucius Walker, an African American. In response to that brutal act of terrorism, Rev. Walker announced the formation of Pastors for Peace, a project of material aid, education, and advocacy designed to support the daily victims of so-called "low intensity" war.

Their Friendshipment Caravans have as partners the Martin Luther King Center in Havana.
InfoMed The folks who have send many hundreds of PCs to Cuba's innovative medical computer network.  They have launched a new campaign that includes Mumia and Assata. The Cuban Infomed network is a gem, and is now working with Jamaica to extend their technology to Jamaica, Trinidad, and Barbados.   This is a prelude to working in Southern Africa.  Amandla Awethu!

Jesse Helms Toilet Paper

helmss.gif (1947 bytes)

Wipe that smile off his face! Makes a great gift. 

Jesse's father was a Klan sheriff in North Carolina, active against Robert Williams, who had to flee the state and founded Radio Free Dixie in Havana in the 60's.  Williams also wrote the seminal work, Negroes with Guns, praised by Malcom X and Huey P. Newton.

And of course, Jesse is the sponsor of the infamous Helms Burton bill, which tightened the genocidal blockade.

No War on Cuba Active site these days...
Pittsburg Peace with Cuba Coalition Includes the Pittsburgh - Matanzas sister city project.  Matanzas is a hemispheric capital of African culture.
TransAfrica Forum TransAfrica was an important player in the establishment of the embargo against South African and in the end of the rule of Haiti's generals.  Their recent trip to Cuba signals their active participation in the embargo endgame. From their web site: "TransAfrica Forum, an African-American foreign policy institution, was founded in 1981 to provide a forum for the collection, analysis and dissemination of information about Africa and the Caribbean and about the United States' policies affecting these regions."
University of Houston - University of Havana Friendship Committee Eclectic list of links
US-Cuba Sister Cities Association This is one of the fastest growing areas. See their solidarity page.

Other lists of links

Cuba Solidarity Web Site's list of links Very comprehensive, many organizations and a number of resources on Cuba presented here.


How To Reach Organizations & People Involved In Cuba Solidarity Efforts Full listing of phone numbers in many locations.

FBI Harrassment, 7/99


A Cuba activist (from Philadelphia) was (recently) called and visited by the F.B.I. around matters of "national security" having to do with Cuba. She told them that she has nothing to say and refused to speak with them.

We wanted to get the word out that this happened in case others are contacted by the FBI or any other governmental agency such as the Treasury Department. It's important to know your rights. The following is an excerpt from the pamphlet "If An Agent Knocks", by the Center for Constitutional Rights.

Do I Have To Talk To The FBI?

No. The FBI does not have the authority to make anyone answer questions, or otherwise force anyone to cooperate with an investigation. Thus, if an FBI agent knocks at your door, you do not have to identify yourself to him, you can simply say "I don't want to talk to you," or, "You'll have to speak to my lawyer," and then close the door.  Agents are usually lawyers, and they are always trained as investigators; they have learned the power of persuasion, the ability to make a person feel scared, guilty, or impolite for refusing their requests for information. So remember, they have no legal authority to force people to do anything- unless they have obtained an arrest or search warrant. Even when agents do have warrants, you still don't have to answer their questions. From "If an Agent Knocks", Page 3.

An agent may also act very friendly or like it's no big deal to talk to him. However, anything you say, could be used against you or someone else. And you don't want to lie or say anything that could be construed as a lie, so it's best not to say anything at all.

For a copy of "If an Agent Knocks" (Available in both English and Spanish) contact the Center for Constitutional Rights at (212) 614-6470 (before July 19) and at (212) 614-6437 (after July 19). If you or someone you know is contacted by any government agency for information around Cuba, contact the Center for Constitutional Rights at the above numbers for legal assistance and also please contact the National Network On Cuba at (415) 566-8560 so the Network can maintain an accurate picture of the current harrasment around this issue and offer whatever assistance they can.

- Lisa Valenti

Note "If an Agent Knocks" is available on-line at:
We have archived a copy at

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