Some Quick Comments on Carlos Moore's PICHÓN

Walterio Lord Garnés and David González López [1]

February 2009


Edited by Walter Lippmann.

February 2009

Carlos Moore’s most recent book, Pichón, A Memoir,[2] is bound to generate as much controversy as his previous Castro, the Blacks, and Africa[3]. Not constructed as an academic work, it seems in many ways a lot more like a novel. Since several chapters are devoted to passages of the author’s life outside of (and frequently having little to do with) Cuba, the subtitle “Race and Revolution in Castro’s Cuba” can only be explained as a marketing device.

Cuba, nevertheless, is present, by hook or by crook, in pretty much every passage. Behind the seemingly-naive recounting of a life, one senses the constant tread of a minefield. The same ideas about his country of origin –presented twenty years earlier in Castro, the Blacks, and Africa— resurface again in his new work. This more recent book, however, does allow us a glimpse of some of the reasons why the author thinks and acts as he does.

Fairly well-constructed to grasp and hold the reader’s attention, the narrative depicts an individual who has suffered severe early childhood emotional traumas which refused to heal as the years went by. Moore was not only born a black person, but furthermore, the son of immigrant blacks in a very poor area of a country in which racism could be openly expressed. Worse yet, he was the very darkest-skinned among his siblings (only later in life would he learn that he was the product of his mother’s extra-marital love affair).

He was also the victim of transitory yet nearly-fatal expressions of physical abuse by his mother, whose love he nevertheless desperately craved. All this would suffice to explain his rebellious attitude vis-a-vis everything which surrounded him in childhood –family, neighborhood, school, and the icons of Cuban national culture. Even if such a wounded person believes that, with maturity, he or she has managed to come to terms with his/her original conflicts, the scars usually continue to inflict some kind of pain and to account for paranoid reactions and at-times distorted visions.

One initial problem with the book appears immediately in the acknowledgements. There, the author thanks “a host of decent people [who] took up my defence, stood by me when it was politically unwise to do so, and deflected the big waves that threatened to overwhelm me.”[4] He goes on to name this host of people (some of them having already passed away, several of them well-known for their firm support of the Cuban revolution) and, because it was thanks to their help that he was ultimately able to write the book, he considers them, “in that sense […], the coauthors of Pichón.”[5] The reader might wonder if each and every one of the individuals mentioned would approve (which is what a co-author usually does) each and every word written in Pichón, in particular, those views that express strong opinions about people, cultures, institutions or governments.

Perhaps the major problem a Cuban reader would confront with this book lies in the depiction of Cuban culture as a whole as portrayed in Moore’s inaccurate recollections. At times, Central Lugareño, the rural hamlet in which he was raised, would appear to a Cuban reader as a fictional God-forsaken spot. It is difficult to imagine this place of “fewer than two thousand people, mostly-whites”[6] in which even words seem to have a different meaning than elsewhere¨. This is always possible, but not likely, if you are over 60 years old, have more or less moved around Cuba, and have spoken with people from almost every corner of the country.

The title of the book itself, Pichón, is purportedly “Cuba’s most derogatory term for blacks.”;[7] “the word in this country [Cuba] that is more negative than the N word in the United States”,[8] or, as the author himself argues, a term which conveys a “scorching message of hate”[9], because –in the words attributed to his step-father— it refers to “di picney of a jancrow[10] –a buzzard’s chick.

Yet, for as long as both co-authors of these comments (David Gonzalez and Walterio Lord, both over 60 years of age) have lived in Cuba and travelled extensively throughout it, we have never heard anyone attach this very specific, derogatory meaning to the word pichón, even after interviewing people from the area of north-east Camagüey province. Pichón is, literally, a small bird (of whatever flying species) which has not left its nest.

From there, it evolved to designate a Cuban whose parents were immigrants, who is also referred to as a pichón of a given foreign nationality, though not necessarily in a derogatory way. Moreover, Moore’s change of mind with respect to the word –“for once, the term pichón exploded in my mind with a keen pride, a vengeful joy”[11]— when he thought of getting an important post back in Cuba seems much too sudden to be credible.[12]. It is not infrequent to hear someone refer to Fidel Castro as a pichón de gallego (that is, the child of someone from the Spanish province of Galicia), a phrase at which no one would raise an eyebrow in Cuba. Giving Moore the benefit of the doubt, one might accept that this was a very local (derogatory) meaning of the word at a given point in time, if this were the only problem appearing in the book, related to Moore’s peculiar interpretative memory.

As in other racially-diverse countries, a very wide popular vocabulary existed and is still heard in Cuba to refer to pigmentation differences. For example, “Makris” was not usually intended to describe “white trash” as Moore affirms, but rather whites who tended to have a wide circle of black friends, as piolo was the term used to name blacks who preferred white sexual partners or the company of whites.[13] In colonial times, particularly, bozal slaves (as those born in Africa were called) referred to whites as mucarandara and to mixed-blood individuals as mulañé: the prefix mu indicates a noun class grouping humans (singular) in most bantu languages, as is the case for words still used to refer to whites in many of those African languages (mundele, muzungu, murungu, etc.). Again, in all those cases, the intention is not derogatory but simply a statement of fact, without intent of judgement.

Another case in point is the term kalalu, that Moore likens to “a bush” whose leaves “Cubans fed only to their pigs”. However, in times of hunger he and his family went to gather kalalu “under cover of dark” during economic ¨dead season¨’[14] (the time between harvests). to brew and eat The recollection of this purportedly repulsive food, unfit for humans, was so strong for Moore that he refers to it again over forty pages later as “a wild grass.”[15] In fact, anyone who has lived among, or only near Cuban-Haitians would necessarily know that kalalu is the Kreyol word for what most Cubans call quimbombó and is known as okra in the US.

This was, as a matter of fact, one of the few foods that travelled from Africa to the Americas, where it became –a fact strangely ignored by Moore— a delicacy for many blacks and whites throughout the Caribbean area, even if some people, as Moore obviously does, dislike its flavour or its slimy texture. Even among the descendants of English-speaking Caribbean immigrants in Cuba the Kreyol term was adopted, and for many of them kuku, flying fish and kalalu was considered a perfect combination of a delicious Sunday meal.

A different case is that of gofio, also mentioned by Moore –and, it is true, was hated by most children of whatever color from our generation, including both co-authors of these observations. We were forced to swallow it from infancy, but it was a cheap, nutritious food. It was, however, not derived from cornmeal, as Moore claims,[16] but from flour.

Moore’s faulty memory is not, however, limited to the area of his brain that governs his palate. When attempting to depict the class structure of his home town, the author alternatively describes guajiros as “white cane cutters living deep in the countryside,” as a bunch of people “generally perceived as poor white trash (…), small-time peasants who lived in the bush” and finally as “illiterate and violent rustic folk…” who “…had emigrated from Spain in the mid-nineteenth century to work primarily as hunters of runaway slaves or as mayorales, whip-wielding overseers.”[17]

But around the origin of the term guajiros there are at least two hypotheses, both of them far from Moore’s definition. One of them is self-explanatory because it has to do with immigrants, not from Spain, but from La Guajira Peninsula in Venezuela, who came, yes, to work as peasants in Cuba. The other claims that the term is a corruption of the English words war heroes, as Cuban veterans of the independence wars were called as they settled down as farmers. Whatever the case, in time, the term would be used to depict any type of small peasant and, in general, rural folk, basically not the (rare) violent ones, but rather the more bashful ones. In fact, they were taken as paradigm of bashfulness, and thus guajiro has also become a popular synonym for a shy person –white or black.

Later on in the book, Moore himself introduces the character of a friend of “mixed blood” who was nicknamed Guajiro.[18] Associating the term guajiro with Spanish immigrants who came in the mid-19th century to work as rancheadores and mayorales for slaves, as the author does, would obviously mean a sharp reduction of the term to a very small group of immigrants. In any case, most of them were long dead by the time of Moore’s childhood.

Moore’s attempts at linguistic explanations are usually unfortunate. Such is the case with the term Yuma, which he also characterizes as “derogatory” and –again, in his peculiar recollections— “short for Yumaican.”[19] Strangely enough, in his more recent trips to Cuba, Moore seems not to have heard this very frequently used term to designate foreign English-speakers in general –as it was originally used— and more particularly North Americans but, yes, also English-speakers from the Caribbean area, coming from the expression “you, man.” It is not strange to hear someone say that a certain person “se va para la Yuma”, meaning that he or she “is leaving for the U:S.A.” But the term has now been expanded also to designate any foreigner — with no derogatory purpose whatsoever in any of its uses.

Even more simple recollections are deceptive in Moore’s elusive memory when referring to his childhood days. If, as he claims, empty bottles were paid ten cents at stores in Lugareño,[20] children would have been rich and the gallego owners would have faced bankrupcy. In Cuba –as in the US at the time— sodas used to cost five cents. In Cuba, if you wanted to take the bottle with you, you paid two additional cents. That’s what empty bottles of beverages cost everywhere: two cents.

But the book is full of all sorts of small, medium, large and extra-large inaccuracies. To say that in 1959 “the only people who spoke English in Cuba were rich U.S.-educated whites or blacks of West Indian heritage”[21] is a ridiculous exaggeration. It would mean extending the conditions at Lugareño to the rest of the island-nation. If Moore truly believed this, then readers might understand his shock for not having immediately landed an important post upon his return to Cuba. If the extreme poverty of his birthplace might explain the surprising fact that in Cuba he “rarely saw a black professional,”[22] his avowedly “overblown view of America”[23] later on can account for seeing no buildings over ten stories high in Havana in 1958.[24]

Moore says he “discovered television” in the US because “back home, it was a luxury enjoyed by two or three white families in town,”[25] something understandable, if he hadn’t previously confessed that, during his childhood at Lugareño, “all my favourite movie, TV and sports stars were American”.[26] Was he allowed to watch TV by some of the few white owners and later forgot? Or just another contradiction in the text that he and his editors overlooked.

Fortunately for Moore, his book is not aimed at a Cuban audience. Any Cuban, of whatever race, would laugh at the institution of padrinos and madrinas (godfathers and godmothers) as a “custom originated during slavery, when having a white sponsor was envied by other slaves.”[27] Moore either confuses this with the padrinos and madrinas established by Afro-Cuban religions (in the first place, to form new family links among slaves cut off from their blood relatives in Africa), or he continues to make everything that happens in the universe spin around black slavery. Padrinos and madrinas existed throughout Europe and other places, even before the Atlantic slave trade, and Catholic Cubans of all races have always had a padrino and a madrina assigned to them when they are baptized . Therefore, when a black slave was formally baptised, he was expected to automatically received a padrino and a madrina –whether he liked it or not.

The racial prism is pervasive throughout the book, and most everything is viewed –excessively at times— with nothing else but this topic in mind. In the index of the book, jineteras are described as “dark skinned prostitutes”[28]. Does Moore know a specific word for white- skinned ones? Jineteras was simply the popular name given to the new-type prostitutes –of every color— that flourished since the 1990s.

Not very many Cubans would refer to the struggle against the Batista dictatorship as “a civil war”[29], least of all while saying that in 1933 there was “an ongoing revolution”.[30] Speaking of derogatory terms, it is difficult to come up with a worse one than “aborted putsch” to label Fidel Castro’s attack on the Moncada Garrison in 1953,[31] or “terrorist groups” [32] to qualify Cuban youths who heroically battled the repressive armed forces of Batista in city streets. Moreover, no Cuban (no Latin-American, for that matter) would refer to the US as “America,” as Moore constantly does in this book. But, again, his intended target is not the (larger than he thinks) English-speaking Cuban reader.

The most insulting passages, however, are those in which Moore unapologizingly attacks icons of Cuban history and culture. What was presented as anger in Castro, the Blacks and Africa now appears as confessed hatred, gradually expanded from Central Lugareño to cover most of Cuba’s territory, culture and history. For Moore, only black heroes count.

If he expects us to believe that he only learned about Cuban independence hero Antonio Maceo after his return to Cuba and from a foreigner,[33] then it must have been because he did not listen to what was said in class while attending primary school. Yes, even in the most God-forsaken pre-1959 Cuban public school, at the very least, Maceo’s central role in Cuba’s independence struggle was taught. (Maceo has been referred to historically here in Cuba as the “Bronze Titan” because of the color of his skin.) Otherwise, then, Central Lugareño, the tiny hamlet in central Cuba’s Camaguey province where the author grew up, was a most peculiar place.

It is also true that, being the offspring of foreigners, Moore was also at a disadvantage. He could not count on alternative sources of family oral tradition about the wars of independence that many other Cuban children would hear from their grandparents since their infancy, particularly in the Eastern provinces of the country where he lived.

According to his sources, Carlos Manuel de Céspedes “initiated the independence war against Spain using his slaves as cannon fodder.”[34] He does not even acknowledge the fact that Cuba was the sole country in Latin America in which independence from Spain was not possible unless every able man –including slaves, who were granted their freedom by Céspedes and the other white landowner leaders of the revolution before having to choose whether to follow them to war or not— fought as a free person. Cuba’s peculiar situation (two hundred thousand Spanish soldiers to control a population of slightly over one million, a challenge of a scale that no other Latin American country had faced) required no less.

No wonder the author also candidly confesses his hatred for Marti’s intellect. The impression is that Moore feels so ill-treated by Cuban whites at large that, to get even, he aims at what he wishes were solely white icons. Is Moore ignorant of the works of the most color-blind leader of Cuba’s independence wars to the extent of saying…?:

“I abhorred Martí’s poems –silly stuff like ‘My little shoes are hurting my toes, and my socks overheat my feet. But the little kiss that my mother gave me will forever remain engraved in my Heart.’ Martí came to symbolize everything I hated about school: the white teachers, their white lies, and the disdain they inculcated in black kids against our own color.”[35]

A silly poem, indeed. Here everyone can agree with Moore. Only it’s not by Martí: it’s a stupid anonymous children’s rhyme. Moore’s gaffe is more monumental than attributing Mary had a little lamb to Walt Whitman, and it clearly reveals his ignorance about Cuba beyond the racial barriers that he has erected to defend himself from the pain that his longstanding wounds continue to inflict on him. Perhaps he should have chosen editors who would have checked in on his lack of knowledge about things Cuban instead of concentrating on wording the text for a more uninformed North-American public. Most of those readers will, no doubt, follow the thread of the story without giving much thought to what is true or false, fact or fiction.

By the way, the authors of these comments will abstain from going into the controversial sections of the book devoted to Moore’s feuds with Cuban officials because that is the kind of thing that readers will choose to believe or not according to the degree of accuracy that they attribute to a source, or according to their ideological inclinations. But let us say only that in some instances, such as the Dar-Es-Salaam incident[36], different recounts have been heard from other people present at the scene.

The fact is that Cuba was, before 1959, a country of institutionalized racism. The new Cuban leadership, together with Cuban revolutionaries bent on eliminating racism and racial discrimination were naïve, yes, when thinking that with a stop to exploitative policies and by giving equal opportunities to all, the problem would automatically disappear. It did not, and by the 1980s the Cuban leadership acknowledged its mistake.

However, Moore downplays or completely ignores the importance of certain measures that were taken: for instance, the abolition of private education and the establishment of an ambitious system of intern schools, that eliminated the possibility of all-white schools for the rich (this is one of the major reasons why many of them fled to Miami) and forced people of different colors to live together and constantly interact since their youth –something that was very important for the generation of the authors of these comments. He also downplays the impact of Cuba’s policy toward Africa –that he either finds paternalistic or based on a hidden agenda— in the gradual change of the Cuban people’s racial mentality.

But, again, these measures would not by themselves totally solve a centuries-old and markedly resilient problem, apparent –among many other indications— yes, in a lower performance of black children in schools and a higher crime rate among blacks, but also in the way in which people tend to define themselves in lighter-skinned terms when questioned about their color by census workers. Nevertheless, a growing awareness of the persistence of a racial issue is exemplified not only in the gradual reduction of racial inequalities and the growth of the number of blacks in leadership positions, [37] but also in the reprinting of Walterio Carbonell’s 1961 Cómo surgió la cultura nacional (How national culture emerged)[38], the appearance of other books on racial problems,[39] the establishment since 2007 of an Organizing Commission for the commemoration of the centennial of the founding of the Partido Independiente de Color (Independent Party of Color) and a visible increase in the number of public discussions on the subject. A gradual deconstruction of racially-inspired myths –such as the purported “superiority” of certain Afro-Cuban religious manifestations with respect to others— has also been on course for several years now.[40]

Moore’s confrontations with Cuban officials, whether they are accurate or not, sound like the ones many people of all races and various walks of life encountered from time to time with bureaucrats in posts of power in the early days of the Revolution: the stories that any Cuban over 50 can tell!!! But the difference lies in the weapons, the site and the opportunity that the affected individuals chose to combat those nefarious trends. If we can humanely justify Moore’s paranoia at times because of the weight of the problems he confronted, we might also understand, if not justify, the at times extreme reactions that certain officials might have displayed when struggling to defend a revolutionary process that was encountering serious, disproportionate challenges on most every front. The fact is that some individuals who felt affected chose to cross the line, while legions of others opted for putting those experiences behind and continued to work inside the revolutionary camp at whatever price.

Although Castro, the Blacks, and Africa was a long time in the making, it finally saw the light in 1988, when the gradual disintegration of the Eastern European block seemed to herald the swan song of the Cuban revolution. But revolutionary Cuba survived the challenge at its finest hour.

Coincidentally, Pichón, A Memoir, is published at a time when major leadership changes both in Cuba and the US induce many observers outside Cuba to believe that a brewing discontent among the island’s black population will cause an explosion from within. But these observers base their forecasts on controversial data. The basic ones are the racial breakdown of Cuba’s population according to figures of the US State Department, quoted by Moore: 37 percent whites and 62 percent blacks[41] –does this mean that there is no intermediate, mulato stratum? Hence, people with “a drop of white blood” are included in the 37% whites, or more likely, those with “a drop of black blood” are added into the 62% black?

This definition is as important as establishing those who see a glass half-full or half-empty to detect the optimistic and the pessimistic. And the basic problem with Moore’s interpretation of the “racial problem” in Cuba –as lived in Central Lugareño in his childhood and early youth, then barely a couple of years again in Cuba in the first convulsed years of the revolution, plus a few brief return tours many years after that— is that it fails to grasp what is unique in the island’s history of racial relations and therefore does not require a solution imported from other experiences abroad. Then he would understand why those –white and black— whom he left behind in Central Lugareño, as poor as they are, continue to support the revolution.

In spite of a longstanding institutionalized racism, Cuban society evolved, from colonial times, in a peculiar way that forced the lower, the middle and at times even considerable sections of the upper social strata to work closely together not only to assure social promotion, but also for their very survival.

By 1843-1844 the paranoia developed by Spanish colonialism vis-a-vis a growing dissatisfaction induced the persecution of participants in a purported conspiracy, known as Conspiración de la Escalera, in which the most outstanding individuals of a growing black bourgeoisie were tortured and killed or deported. But historical data have proven that the Conspiración de la Escalera was a fabrication, and the Spaniards would quickly learn with a shock that they were wrong to direct their blow solely against blacks.

What really existed was “…a diversity of movements, each of them grouping different nuclei formed by whites together with free blacks and mulattos and slaves.”[42] In spite of the effort of Spanish colonialism to keep clear racial divides in their colony, the convergence of criollos of various colors is clearly visible in various groupings: from those of Afro-cuban religions and sects to the political or military branches of the liberation struggle.

However, having said this, some of Moore’s problems are not unique to a Cuban –or even Caribbean, or North or South American— social context for that matter. The first instance in which unnecessary racially-inspired pain is inflicted on the individual is within the family, when siblings have different colors. The lighter-skinned will be lauded as adelantados (advanced), whereas the darker ones will be termed as atrasados (backward).[43] It is of little import if this is done jokingly: the child will interpret it as a personal aggression. Moore’s problem is even greater as the product of an extra-marital affair with a darker-skinned individual than his foster father. This is more than enough to implant in a person an automatic device that will guarantee an over-reaction with respect to racial issues.

Many Cubans of various colors –including both authors of these observations— faced discrimination either at home or abroad and were sometimes forced to repeat things that they did not like in school. But this did not necessarily lead them to hate the school system or all of its teachers. And if a student had problems with what he/she heard in a history class –this could sometimes happen—, they would usually consult their parents to hear a different version, passed down by (sometimes family) oral tradition. In Moore’s case there was little that his immigrant parents could tell him about Cuban history, except their own personal, desperate struggle for acceptance and survival. But this is a normal problem experienced by first-generation immigrants most everywhere.

Cuba has many problems today. The racial problem is certainly one of them, and an important one at that, –though not the only one. Furthermore, the racial issue is intertwined with most of the others. It would be very difficult to try to solve any one of them in isolation. And a deep knowledge of Cuba and how its population, of different races, has evolved in the recent past, and how individuals of various colors perceive themselves and what they long for is vital when thinking about how to solve them.

The author of Pichón tells us that his “first brush with death” occurred when he almost drowned in the excrement of an outhouse, into which he had fallen as a consequence of his “inordinate terror of the hairy, black, poisonous spiders that pullulated in dark places.”[44] Indeed, most Cuban children loath those menacing-looking spiders –although their poison is not as strong as most people think. But those spiders are very instrumental in the self-training of Cuban boys to overcome their frights: little by little they will examine the spiders, threaten them with a stick or capture them to play with them.

Carlos Moore is a person who has suffered extensively, more than his share. We truly hope that he may have finally found peace in beautiful and hospitable Salvador de Bahía and that he might successfully deal with his own demons. Meanwhile, Cuba will continue to live on and to change. Changes will not re-introduce, however, the type of regime that the country already experienced in the past (multi-partyism coexisting with a dictatorial, corrupt regime; an array of racial-based organizations in a context in which they did no more than strengthen racist divides, etc.), but an altogether new type of dispensation along the line of Martí’s purpose: Con todos y para el bien de todos (With everyone and for the good of everyone). For Cubans of every color, of today and of tomorrow.

On race and racism in Cuba:

AFROCUBA: An Anthology of Cuban Writing on Race, Politics and Culture, London/New York/Melbourne: Latin America Bureau/Center for Cuban Studies/Ocean Press, 1993
Edited by Pedro Perez Sarduy and Jean Stubbs

Afro-Cuban Voices: On Race and Identity in Contemporary Cuba
Edited by Jean Stubbs and Pedro Perez Sarduy

: : Race, Inequality and Politics in Twentieth-Century Cuba by Alejandro de la Fuente




[1]Walterio Lord Garnés [Havana, 1948] and David González López [Havana, 1947] are collaborators attached to the Centro de Estudios de África y Medio Oriente in Havana and to the University of Havana’s Cátedra “Amílcar Cabral” de Estudios Africanos. They have written dissertations at home and abroad and published works about African and Afro-Cuban cultures in Cuban and foreign publications. Because Walterio Lord’s father was born in Barbados, since birth he was affectionately/jokingly called pichón de barbadense or pichón de jamaiquino. David González recalls that, because his grandfather came from the Canary Islands, his father was affectionately/jokingly called Pichón de isleño.

[2] Pichón, A Memoir. Race and Revolution in Castro’s Cuba, Lawrence Hill Books, Chicago, 2008

[3] CAAS Monograph Series, Volume 8, UCLA, Los Angeles, 1988.

[4] Pichón (op. cit.), p. xii

[5] Id., p. xiii

[6] Id., p. 1

[7] Id., book jacket

[8] Id., Maya Angelou’s Foreword to the book, p. ix

[9] Id., p. 7.

[10] Id., p. 8

[11] Id., p. 146. In fact, in the Advance Reading Copy, it was Major Juan Almeida who in a –matter-of-fact way acknowledged “Oh, you are a pichón...” (Advance Reading Copy, p. 147). In the final edition, Moore corrected his recollections, perhaps because it was obvious that there was no derogatory intent in Almeida’s observation.

[12] Id., p. 147

[13] As is clearly stated in the Index, id., p. 390

[14] Id., p. 5

[15] Id., p. 48

[16] Id., p. 76

[17] Id., p. 2

[18] Id., p. 235

[19] Id., p. 3

[20] As Moore claims in the last paragraph of id., p. 5.

[21] Id., p. 146

[22] Id., p. 70. Moore toned down his phrase in the Advance Reading Copy, which was “…I never saw…” But then, again, he only knew his hamlet of several hundreds poor blacks.

[23] Id., p. 70

[24] Id., p. 69

[25] Id., p. 71

[26] Id., p. xvii

[27] Id., p. 27

[28] Id., p. 386

[29] Id., p. 63

[30] Id., p. 53

[31] Id., p. 55

[32] Id., p. 59

[33] In id., p. 175, Moore claims that it was from Marc Balin that “I learned from the accomplishments of the Cubans Antonio Maceo Grajales, Guillermo Moncada and Quintín Banderas…” 

[34] Id., p. 175

[35] Id., p. 6

[36] Id., pp. 292-295

[37] In his A Nation for All: Race, Inequality and Politics in Twentieth-Century Cuba (The University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill & London, 2001), Alejandro de la Fuente argues that “By the early 1980s, Cuban society had made remarkable progress in the reduction of racial inequality in a number of crucial areas, including education, health care, and employment. Racial inequality persisted in some areas, but the trend was unequivocally toward equality.” (o.c., p. 309) Further on (o.c., pp. 311-313) he documents efforts to increase the number of blacks in leadership positions. And even if he argues that the racial problem was again promoted by the developments of the “Special Period” started in 1990 (o.c., pp. 317-334), he concludes that, nevertheless, “…after four decades of massive social mobility, education, and radical integration, Afro-Cubans are better prepared than ever to assert their equal place in society.” (o.c., p. 339)

[38] Ediciones Bachiller, Biblioteca Nacional José Martí, La Habana, 2006

[39] For instance, Esteban Morales’ Desafíos de la problemática racial en Cuba, Fundación Fernando Ortiz, La Habana, 2007, together with the appearance of chapters of this and other books in various magazines and on-line sites.

[40] See, for instance, David González López & Walterio Lord Garnés: “Estereotipos en la percepción de las prácticas religiosas de origen africano,” (Stereotypes in the perception of religious practices of African origin) Temas nr. 45, enero-marzo de 2006, pp. 67-78

[41] Pichón (op. cit.), p. 366

[42] La Colonia. Grupo de redacción: María del Carmen Barcia, Gloria García y Eduardo Torres Cuevas, pp 434-437, La Habana, Editorial Pueblo y Educación 2002.

[43] These notions, deeply rooted in Cuban popular psyche are a leitmotiv in Abel Prieto’s
El vuelo del gato. (2000)

[44] Pichón (op. cit.), pp. 4-5