- Digna and Me: Cuba, Race and Transnational
Solidarity, by Lisa Brock, April 8,
- Race in
Cuba, Essays on the Revolution and Racial Equality, Esteban Morales,
edited by August Nimtz and Gary Prevost
Blacks in Cuba, the Revolution Hasn’t Begun," by Roberto
Zurbano, New York Times, March 23, 2013.The Zurbano
article resulted in a discussion about the question of race in
Cuba. Many of them are linked to at AfroCubaWeb. Here are some of the articles: Esteban
Morales response to Roberto Zurbano, includes link to Zurbano
NYT article, all in English; Polémica sobre tema del racismo en
Cuba, Havana Times includes link to NYT article
and response by Esteban Morales, all in Spanish;
letter by August Nimtz, Minnesota
Cuba Committee, to the New York Times
Fernandez Robaina, President of National Assembly
calls for complete eradication of racism in
Cuba (August 2011) (Eng/esp)
- Center for International Policy Studies,
Questions of Racial Identity, Racism and anti-Racist Policies in Cuba
PBS Documentary with Henry Louis Gates (April 2011)
- Cuban Color (12/14/2009)
Esteban Morales (2008)
Esteban Morales (2007)
- Esteban Morales blog (Esp)
- Queloides (Exposición de Arte, Centro de
Desarollo de las Artes Visuales, Ciudad de La Habana, Cuba, 1999)
from Abdias Nascimento
Declaration of African-American Support
Reverse images: The acrimonious debate on race in
Laying the Groundwork for another 1912 (12/08/2009)
Missed Shot on the Wrong Flank (12/09)
A new discussion on race in Cuba began in 2009 with a letter from Abdias
Nascimento of the Afro-Brazilian Sudies and Research Institute,
criticizing Cuba's treatment of an Afro-Cuban dissident, and
was followed by another letter signed by a number of prominent
African-Americans (both letters are linked to on the sidebar). It was followed
by a response from Cuba (reproduced below) as well as numerous analyses and
In addition, a petition initiated by the Minnesota Cuba Committee, entitled
"In Solidarity with the Real Anti-Racist Movement in Cuba"was initiated.
Links to other comments and analyses are on the sidebar. AfroCubaWeb has also
compiled a wealth of information on the discussion.
MESSAGE FROM CUBA TO AFROAMERICAN
INTELLECTUALS AND ARTISTS
A Yoruba proverb states: "The lie may run for a year, the truth will
up with it one day". Although the most intolerant political circles and
powerful mass media have tried to impose a distorted image of
Cuban society on American public opinion for a long time, one way
another, in the end, reality leads the way.
We are sure that's the way it will happen when the arguments refuting
deceitful statements about our society contained in a document circulated
December 1st in the name of a group of Afro-American intellectuals
leaders are considered.
To say that among us there is a "callous disregard" for black Cubans,
they are "den[ied] civil liberties on the basis of race," and to "stop
unwarranted and brutal harassment of black citizens in Cuba who are
defending their civil rights," would seem a delusional farce if the
intention of adding respectable voices from the Afro-American community
the anti-Cuban campaign that attempts to undermine our sovereignty
identity were not behind those fictions.
If the Cuba of these times was that racist nation they want to invent,
citizens would not have contributed massively to the liberation of
African people. More than 350,000 Cuban volunteers fought alongside
brothers of Africa against Colonialism. More than 2,000 combatants from
Island fell in the lands of that Continent. A personality of
worldwide import, Nelson Mandela, has recognized the role of those
volunteers in the definitive defeat of the infamous Apartheid regime.
Africa we brought back only the remains of our dead.
If the Cuba of today felt such disrespect for the black race, more
35,000 African young persons wouldn't have been trained in our schools
the past 40 years, nor would 2,600 young people from some 30 nations of
region be studying right now in our universities.
A people sick with racism would refuse to collaborate in the training
medical doctors and other human resources for health at the Schools
Medical Sciences founded in Guinea Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Gambia,
It would have turned its back on the health assistance programs that
saved thousands of lives in Latin America and the Caribbean, where
African Diaspora is significant, and they would have not provided
to the more than 20,000 Haitians and English speaking Afro-Caribbeans
recovered their eyesight through surgical operations performed in
country, free of charge.
It is very probable that the majority of those who signed the
aren't aware that when the City of New Orleans was devastated by
Katrina, dozens of Cuban medical doctors and paramedics volunteered
provide help to storm victims in a humanitarian gesture that received
response from the American authorities.
It is probable that those who signed the document also ignore the fact
from the earliest days following the popular victory of 1959, the
institutional and legal bases that sustained a racist society were
dismantled. In 1959 the Cuban Revolution found a critical situation in
majority of the population. Cubans of African descent, who were among
victims that suffered most from the Neo-colonial model that existed
immediately benefited from the battle carried out by the Revolution
put an end to any form of exclusion, including the fierce racism
characterized Cuba during those years.
Cuba's policy against any form of discrimination and in favor of
has Constitutional backing, found explicitly in the chapters of the
Constitution that refer to the essential political, social and
foundations of the State, and about the rights and obligations and
guarantees of its citizens.
These Constitutional Rights, as well as the mechanisms and means to
them and the restoration of legality before any violation of them,
guaranteed by means of very precise complementary legislation. As
before in the history of our nation, black and mixed-race Cubans have
opportunities for social and personal development in transformative
processes that have been ongoing for the past half a century.
These opportunities are conveyed through policies and programs that
possible the initiation of what Cuban Anthropologist Don Fernando
called the non-deferrable integration phase of Cuban society. It is
process, we know, that is not exempt from conflicts and contradictions
which inherited social disadvantages and deeply-rooted prejudices play
Six years ago, Fidel Castro, in a dialog that took place in Havana
Cuban and foreign pedagogues, commented how "even in societies like
that arose from a radical social revolution where the people had
full and total legal equality and a level of revolutionary education
interred the subjective component of discrimination, it does exist
another form," He described it as objective discrimination, a
associated with poverty and a historical monopoly on knowledge.
Whoever observes daily life anywhere in the country will be able to see
a sustained effort is underway to bring an end to the factors that
the conditions for that situation through new programs oriented
eliminating any social disadvantage.
Afro-American intellectuals must know how their Cuban colleagues have
with these topics and promote actions from the prominent position they
in civil society.
Some of the programs to which we have made previous references came
being as a result of the debates that took place in 1998 during the
Congress of the Cuban Association of Writers and Artists (UNEAC), in an
and sincere dialog with the State's highest authorities and
It should be remembered that UNEAC, which brings together the vanguard
Cuba's intellectual and artistic movement, had as its President and
a black poet, Nicolas Guillen, one of the most important poets in
Spanish language during the 20th century, an active fighter against
discrimination, and personal friend of Langston Hughes and Paul
Within UNEAC, an organization that never turned its back on these
a permanent Committee has been created to fight against any remains
discrimination and racial prejudices from a cultural perspective.
In a racist country it would be inconceivable to found and operate
institutions like the House of Africa, the Fernando Ortiz Foundation,
House of the Caribbean of Santiago de Cuba, the Center of Caribbean
of the House of the Americas, and the National Institute of
which, among others, conducts in-depth research into the African legacy
our culture and interracial relations in our country.
Likewise, artistic organizations and entities such as the National
Group, the Camagüey Folkloric Ballet, and the Oriente Folkloric
not have received support and the most widespread social
The Museum of the Slave Route would not have existed. The first of its
in Latin America and the Caribbean, The Museum is one of the first
of Cuba's commitment to the UNESCO-sponsored program to vindicate
contribution made by Africans forcibly removed from their lands of
and brought to these lands where they helped forge new identities.
If racial hatred was a predominant trend in our society, the celebration
the 100th Anniversary of the founding of the Party of Black
would have been nothing but a rhetorical gesture. The celebration was
on recovering the historical memory of that stage of struggle by
aspirations of the Cuban people for their rights and liberation from
forms of domination.
Genuine bearers of traditional musical culture much appreciated by
American public like "Los Muñequitos de Matanzas," "Yoruba Andabo"
"Clave y Guaguanco," would be working as parking lot attendants,
shiners and domestic labor were their extraordinary values not
A racist society would not have committed itself so deeply to
and publishing hundreds of literary works by African and
authors. On one of his visits to Cuba, the Nigerian Nobel Prize
Wole Soyinka declared: "It is difficult to find any other place in
Western Hemisphere where the quest to learn about African writers
the interest of the academic institutions, as I have seen here."
Cuban artists and intellectuals are thankful for the solidarity,
comprehension and respect many Afro-American personalities have
towards the Cuban reality during a half century. We have never asked them
share our political ideas, nor have we put conditions on the dialog, or
type of support or backing. From a most basic sense of ethics, we
their points of view.
Perhaps it would be opportune for those who signed the declaration
which we are commenting to listen, without prejudice, to this criteria.
are sure that by doing so, as the Yoruba saying proclaims: "the truth
have its day."
La Habana, December 3, 2009
Nancy Morejon, Poet and Essayist
Miguel Barnet, Poet and Anthropologist
Esteban Morales, Politologist and Essayist
Eduardo Roca (Choco), Artist
Heriberto Feraudy, Historian and Essayist
Rogelio Martinez Fure, Africanist
Pedro de la Hoz, Journalist and Essayist
Fernando Martinez Heredia, Sociologist and Essayist
Omara Portuondo, artist