Thursday, January 05, 2006

Getting Clarity On Cuba's Determined AntiRacist Struggle

Happy New Year of Struggle, Sistas & Brothas!

The Title that "The Infamous Vinnie Gangbox" gave to the below article on Cuba is misleading: "CUBA`S JIM CROW SOCIALISM... 47 YRS AFTER REVOLUTION, BLACKS STILL AT THE BOTTOM OF SOCIETY...." That Cuba is about "Jim Crow Socialism" may be Brotha Gangbox's perspective, but the article takes a different slant on Black Cuba's History/current state and fate. The articles has a more positive slant towards Cuba's battle against racism.

One of the things that revolution does in any society- if it is an ongoing process -is open new areas of struggle against institutionalized and personalized oppressions. In other words, the battle to eliminate racism in a society takes on a protracted struggle because racism has been imbedded within every fabric and thread of society for over 500 years... and, hence, cannot be eradicated within a generation.

Particularly in Cuba: now that there is no longer a material base buttressing white supremacy and internalization of racial inferiority, "Black" and "White" Cubans now have a battle of ideas to deal with (within the everpresent global white supremacist capitalist system constantly bombarding Cuba's 11 million folk with its antiBlack propaganda and policies). The vast majority of Black Cubans living in Cuba see that they have a stake in maintaining the Cuban Revolutionary process of building Socialism. They have battled the Cuban leadership for the legitimate right to practice Santeria as an open religio-cultural aspect of Cuban society. They have battled for Black Cubans to advance in ALL fields of education and government. They have battled for Black Cuban presence on TV programs beyond sports and entertainment.

Cuba's central leadership is "browner" now than back in the 60's & 70's because of the positive antiracist policies of the Cuban revolution. Does all this mean that Black Cubans should now chill and be content with what is? Hell no!

Cuba's struggle to eliminate racism and racist ideas is not at one of its most critical stages... and will intensify either positively or negatively. That's up to "AfroCubans." Judging by some of the Cuban Sistas & Brothas I know living and struggling in Cuba, the next decade will be an even more positive advancement for "Black Cuba" specifically and Cuban Socialism in general- whether or not Fidel is alive.

Remember how the US government thought that with the death of Ho Chi Minh, the Vietnam Revolution would also die. Well, we know it more than not die: it intensified. Why? Because the struggle for selfdetermination and socialism was transformed into a peoples' struggle thru a peoples war. Vietnam was never about one great man holding down imnperialism.

And neither is Cuba. The Cuban Communist Party, the Cuban governmental structure from the neighborhoods up have had 45 years of daily struggle to educate, mobilize and bring into the leadership ordinary hard working Cubans... and, for the most part, they have succeeded against fantastic odds: a Blockade, continuous biological warfare upon their agricultural infrastructure, assassination attempts, global media lies and systemic whiteouts, US attempts at political and intellectual isolation, the lure of capitalist trinkets for Cuba's stars and regular folk....

Lastly, to reiterate for emphasis: the struggle for socialism IS the struggle for the eradication of racism. It's a multigenerational process because worldwide white supremecy still dominates the hearst and minds of billions of people directly or indirectly (just like the struggle to eliminate sexism/male chauvinism is a multigenerational process because of worldwide male chauvinism/sexism).

Cuba's advances on the antiracist front will always be remembered thru their tremendous political, economic and personal sacrifices to help beat back South Africa's (and by extension, the US and Europe's) Apartheid in the 1970's and 80's by directly confronting these racist forces on the battlefields of Angola and Namibia. Cuba's antiracism and internationalism will also be remembered by their principaled stance in support and portection of Assata Shakur and other Black/Latino US political exiles relentlessly being pursued by the US to be assassinated. We also will never forget the work they have done in educating thousands of African exiled children (and Africa's youth today) as well as their medical teams found by the hundreds thruout the African Diaspora bringing medical support and helping to train our Sistas & Brothas in medicine.

Let's not forget the standing offer to train Black/Latino med students from the US to come back and work in our medically depressed Black/Latino communities. Let's always remember the 1500+ Cuban doctors with tons of medical supplies waiting to be flown into the Post Katrina US GulfCoast to help in the vast rescue and recovery process. Many of those doctors were clearly of African descent.

All these things and more have had a powerful impact on the hearts and minds of Cubans and their struggle against white supremacist ideas and practices. I am cionfident we will see more advances on the racial front in Cuba over the next few years because it is the nature of people to live in racial harmony and Because the struggle for socialism in Cuba recognizes that true workers equality and workers power cannot be realized without the constant battle against racism and the evolution of Black leadership.

In Struggle,

Sam Anderson


Can Afro Cuba survive after Fidel? by KAREN JUANITA CARRILLO Special to the Amnews Originally posted 12/22/2005

The latest rumor from Cuba is that the nation's leader, Fidel Castro, may have Parkinson's disease. It's only one of many tales about Castro's health, his wealth, and his governing abilities.

It's a CIA assessment that Castro personally refuted by delivering one of his customary five hour long speeches to a group of Havana University students. Castro has long been the subject of near-death rumors, despite the general health he enjoys at 79 years old. The reports usually originate in Florida's exiled Cuban-American community, where many have never forgiven the Cuban leader for taking power on the island during the 1959 revolution. Cuba's president traditionally dismisses the various rumors of stroke, brain hemorrhage, hypertension and other illnesses as the vengeful wishes of enemies who would love to see him dead.

Still, the inevitable reality of Fidel Castro's true passing is bound to lead to drastic changes on the island nation. And the most striking changes will affect the lives of Afro Cubans.

"Black Cubans continue to lag behind white Cubans," notes the journalist and activist, Willie Mack Thompson. "Pres. Castro has spoken to this … but this is especially frightening in an anticipated leadership transition. "My concern is that if Black Cubans enter into this transition with less resources and income – less status – they will not be able to compete and will thus be relegated to their pre-Revolutionary status. It will be a class struggle based on status." Castro's 1959 Revolution took Cuba out from under the control of monied interests strongly allied to the U.S. government.

Between the large agro-businesses and Mafia-controlled casinos, hotels and prostitution rings throughout the island, Black and white Cubans had bitterly complained of being treated as if they lived on a large offshore U.S. plantation. Castro's revolution nationalized island businesses, which led to the end of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States and a now 43-year-old U.S. economic embargo against the island. Cuba's survival has been buttressed by the education, employment and social inclusion of its large Black population.

But the fact that Blacks are not central to the political structure in Cuba may prohibit Afro-Cubans from playing a central role in controlling the island post-Castro. "The Black population there realizes that they have made gains since the Revolution," notes local Harlem activist Elombe Brath. "They understand that it's to their advantage to maintain the Revolution." Race-based discrimination was so fine-tuned in Cuba prior to Castro that even the nation's former president, General Fulgencio Batista, was denied admission to exclusive clubs because he was considered a mulatto, pointed out Brath, who hosts the show "Afrikaleidoscope" on WBAI-FM.

"There has always been a relative silence among Cubans about race and racial inequality," said Dr. George Priestley, who directs the Latin American Area Studies department at CUNY's Queens College. "And given the fact that so much has been done to erase the racial problems the island had, and that so much was done to address the issues of structural inequality, racial identification was for a while not encouraged. And a Black identification was particularly not encouraged."

The popularity of reggaeton, hip-hop and floetry among Afro Cuban youth may spark a higher degree of ethnic awareness, Priestley added. And that ethnic awareness – or Black pride – should spur stronger political responsibility. But in the meantime, the political awareness of Afro Cubans remains exclusively tied to the Revolution. "And Fidel is the one sustaining the Revolution: the reason Cuba is so strong is because of Fidel," said a prominent U.S.-based Afro Latino journalist who preferred not to be named.

"After Fidel, the Cubans in Miami will simply pounce on the island," this journalist contends. "They have connections in Cuba; they have their people in place in Cuba already. When they take over they're going to be opening up the political arena to the U.S. again. "The problem is going to be with Black Cubans who are not used to taking orders and won't stand for it. The white Cubans in Miami are still racists. They're making preparations for their return, but their plans don't include concerns about Black people." The majority of Miami-based Cubans are right wing and anti-Castro, called "gusanos" (worms) or "vendepatria" (traitors) by Castro supporters. There are left-wing Castro-supporting Cubans also living abroad, but they are not as frequently heard from in the media, because they are generally labeled communists.

Cuba has also been branded communist since the Castro-led revolution, but supporters see Castro's efforts as continuing the island's push for independence. Cuba has ostensibly been "independent" since Dec. 10, 1898, following decades of fighting between the nation's independence army, the Cuba Libre, and Spain.

By 1898, the war was between Spain and the United States, but Cubans had declared their independence as early as Oct. 10, 1868. At that time, they'd also called for the island to end its enslavement of Black people, but emancipation from slavery was not made law until Oct. 7, 1886. Afro Cubans took the lead in the fight to end Spain's dominance on the island, and for three decades they formed the majority of soldiers in Cuba Libre's ranks.

After its independence from Spain, Cubans felt they had to continue their fight to gain independence from the United States. Castro has always termed his Revolution a further battle in the struggle for Cuba's independence. "Fidel is a mortal being and as a mortal being he will die one day," notes the Afro Cuban journalist, author, and broadcaster Pedro Perez-Sarduy. "But Cubans know that Cuba has been transformed into a revolutionary nation over these past decades.

And Cuba will remain a revolutionary nation for many years to come – with or without Fidel! "I think these kinds of worries, so often repeated in recent years – mostly by people of goodwill, who don't live in Cuba – is in many ways similar to the wishes of those who don't want the best for Cuba after Fidel dies," Perez-Sarduy adds. "Obviously, it would be shameful for most of Cuba if the Revolution does not survive the death of its principal creator.

But he is not the only defender of the revolutionary ideals that began in 1868 and re-emerged on July 26, 1953 during the attack on the Moncada barracks in Santiago de Cuba. Cuba will survive with or without Fidel!"

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