September 8-14, 2007
subversion: the race issue
translation. Edited by Walter Lippmann.
There are many sides to the conflict between Cuba and the United States, mainly if we take into account the American political interest in subverting Cuba’s revolutionary society, be that by attempting to spearhead social processes in the island, or robbing Cuban political leaders of their function at the front of internal changes in order to subvert the socialist regime.
Drafted in 2004 and 2006, the so-called “transition documents” display unlimited criticism of every process under way in the island, seeking to project the worst possible image of Cuba’s overall national life.
Small surprise then that a given internal behavior is fostered in order to undermine the progress of the Cuba revolutionary process, engaged as it is in a number of pressing challenges. Among the topics covered by those documents is the race issue, pioneered by certain alleged scholars who, for all intents and purposes, are nothing but henchmen, subordinated to the U.S. administration’s anti-Cuban policy. Some, not all, of the black men from the other side of the Florida Strait try to portray Cuban blacks and people of mixed race as victims in their own land. It goes without saying that the victimizers are none other than the Cuban state, government and Communist Party, since there’s a distinct trend to tag those living on this side of the political spectrum as little more than sheep or stupid people devoid of any personal will.
Involved in this endeavor to manipulate the race issue in Cuba as a target of political subversion are individuals like Enrique Patterson, who links this topic either to matters of governance or to an anti-establishment political potential he claims to be boiling among nonwhite Cubans. Enrique Patterson was a former professor of Philosophy with Havana University’s Marxism-Leninism Department before he left the country in 1990, to reappear shortly afterwards at the LASA Congress in Washington with two officials from, it seemed, the State Department. Who was covering his expenses and the purpose of his presence there may be easily deduced. Settled in Miami, he is now devoted to writing about the race issue in Cuba, his way of thinking a perfect match with the aims of the U.S. Government.
A similar role as manipulator is played by Ramón Colás, leader of a Mississippi-based Race Relations Project, and the journal Islas, until recently in pursuit of contacts to produce materials on the race issue from inside Cuba.
The Miami Herald, in turn, continues to be a storing chamber of every article published in the United States on this subject.
It’s true that much remains to be done in Cuba before social inequality disappears once and for all as a problem still hovering over white and black people alike. The latter are more affected, mainly as a result of the uneven historical backgrounds which the various races comprising today’s Cuban society had in 1959.
It would be foolish and all but anti-scientific to believe that 450 years of colonialism and neocolonial exploitation can be erased in almost 50 years of Revolution, radical though this process may have been.
In line with the social policies enforced by the Revolution, everyone's right to education, health, social security and employment was recognized. This measure benefited all poor citizens, the vast majority of whom were black or from mixed racial descent.
Not that everything is to our complete satisfaction. It is also a fact that, despite being amply addressed by the top leader of the Revolution in 1959, this issue was not properly followed-up on and was, instead, hushed-up in later years, given the prevailing opinion that an egalitarian social policy which treated all races the same, and a far-reaching set of principles conducive to full equality for all Cubans were enough to solve these problems. This premise was totally unmindful of the terrible fallout that such assumptions could bring in tow both from the material and subjective points of view.
We must bear in mind, that in the early 1960s the U.S. government started a true war of aggression against the Cuban Revolution. The race issue began to draw attention as a potential bone of contention among the revolutionary forces, taking into account the difficult battles they were expected to face.
However, without agreeing with the so-called “theory of the one-eyed man” who is king in the land of the blind, I don’t think any country in this hemisphere, including the United States itself, has done as much for justice, egalitarianism and racial equality as Cuba.
Likewise, I have not heard, since before 1959, of any government allied to nonwhite people, or any state or government from which those ethnic groups have received more than just demagogic speeches. Few, if any, concrete actions were made to take them out of their deprived areas and to give them free medical care and education, real hopes of decent housing, a good job, and personal dignity, let alone a chance to be treated on an equal footing when faced with justice. This is a reality still suffered by most African-Americans in the United States.
Black people in Cuba struggle everyday in open spaces, of which there are many, without letting themselves be deceived by those who should first of all relinquish that racist, poor replica of a republic. It was designed to look like the Cuba of the 1950s, which the Cuban-American extreme right has built for the Miami-based black Cubans. Most of them are yet to leave behind the same place they had back in Cuba’s neo-republican days, only 50 years later. And forget about black people’s progress regarding access to power, only available to the wealthy whites, much like it was in Cuba before the Revolution. Yet, other forms of discrimination still hang over Cuban whites who, regardless of their wealth, stopped being “white” to become “Hispanics” when they arrived in the United States.
Therefore, just like Carlos Moore, many admit to the presence of racism and discrimination within the Cuban population in the United States.
On the other hand, Cuban nonwhites work from a vantage point because they’re aware of their status. That is why we can say with absolute certainty that the number of black people in Cuba who make it to the power structures increases by the day, as does the number of white people willing to share such power. After all, that was one of the Cuban Revolution’s goals. That’s the true platform for assuring equality, and the rest will be solved in good time, helped by the existing political dynamics and the will of both Cuban black people and the vast majority of whites. Not that black Cubans are living in a dream world, thinking everything will come as a godsend: they know that rain and snow are the only things they can expect from heaven; everything else calls for a lot of wrestling.
The main battle facing Cubans of black and mixed racial ancestry, then, is to keep building the society which opened so many doors to them, and also, why not, share the power with the nonwhites in a milieu marked by unique realities and opportunities. This is unquestionably more feasible in today’s Cuba than anywhere else, at least in our hemisphere. And again, I’m including the United States where, despite its civil rights movement and matchless wealth, 90% of African-Americans still live below the poverty level.
What’s the plan of those in the United States, and particularly in Miami, who sell the victim’s speech to Cubans in the island? Plainly and simply, to burden them with forms of struggle that never worked for them in order to establish organizations, factions and sects of discontentment as they sweeten them with USAID money, only to put them to work in the end for the heralds of racism in Washington and Miami, a sorrowful mission already undertaken by some U.S.-based black Cubans.
I don’t think they do so without knowing they are betraying their fellow human beings; it’s just that lining their pockets is more important. Like it or not, they have thus become pawns of the same Miami mafia whose only aim is to recover whatever properties and privileges they left in the island. Paradox: those privileges included discriminating against black people in Cuba.
Actually, there in the background of their speech –the victim’s– lies the intention that these nonwhite Cubans work for counterrevolutionary subversion, that is, to undo the political, social and economic process which has made it precisely possible for those ethnic groups to attain a social status in their country that very few of them could only dream of, the existing problems notwithstanding.
The bottom line is that Cuban blacks and people of mixed race have no use for such “victim’s speech”, nor do they need it. Therefore, those in the U.S. would better use their time and effort to come up with a speech of their own so they can help themselves survive in the midst of the racism which is characteristic of American society and especially of Miami.
In Cuba we know exactly who’s a friend and who’s an enemy.
*Esteban Morales: Doctor of Sciences, University Professor, Economist and Political Scientist specialized in topics related to U.S. economics and foreign policy. He is currently with Havana University’s Center for U.S. Studies (CESEU).