Is Castro's Cuba a Racist Society?

by Servando Gonzalez

Copyright © 1999. All rights reserved.

If one is to believe what Castro does , as opposed to what he says , the answer is YES! The evidence strongly indicates that Castro does not has a high appreciation for what he considers the "lower" races.

Most people seem to ignore the fact that, before Castro came to power, Cuba was one of the most racially integrated nations in the world, with a socio-cultural system relatively free of racial discrimination. As professor Richard R. Fagen pointed out, "Batista's Cuba exhibited a greater degree of national integration than did Mexico after 50 years of 'integrative revolution.'" Though racial biases and discrimination were far from non-existent, Cuba was almost free of institutional racism. Racial relations among Cubans were very different from the existent in the U.S. Proof of that is that Fulgencio Batista, a dark skinned mulatto, found his way to top political positions in Cuba-though not to high society-, and eventually became president of the country.

Since Castro assumed power in 1959, he has been claiming that his regime brought an end to racial discrimination in Cuba. However, if one is to believe what Castro does, as opposed to what he says, the evidence strongly indicates that he does not has a high appreciation for what he considers the "lower," dark-skinned races. On a personal level, for example, the record shows that, in a country where the mulatta is the canon of feminine beauty, none of Castro's known women has been dark-skinned.

In addition, there is evidence that at least part of his hatred and contempt for President Batista was racially motivated. Fulgencio Batista's humble origins and his mixed blood (half black, and probably Cuban Indian) was a motive for scorn among some of his opponents-most of them members of the Cuban wealthy and aristocratic classes, including Fidel Castro. As an interesting detail one might add that Fidel's racial slurs about Batista (he usually referred to the Cuban President as "negro de mierda"--shitty nigger) had a sympathetic echo among CIA officers under diplomatic cover at the American Embassy in Havana, who strongly despised the Cuban president.

Some people claim that perhaps Fidel learnt his racial biases from his father Angel and his mother Lina (Angel's second wife). Angel and Lina ruled their largely black cane cutters at the Birán estate by gun law, unmercifully killing the bold ones who stepped too far out of line. The Castro's never ventured into the field without their guns, and the local military post, a corporal and two soldiers, slept on Angel's land, ate his food and received a small monthly stipend from him. Another reason for Fidel's racism may be that María Argota, Angel Castro's first wife -a woman Fidel deeply hated- was a dark-skinned mulatta.

Contrary to Fidel's political demagoguery, the fact is that, even though blacks constitute a large segment of the Cuban population, the Central Committee of Castro's "Communist" Party is almost devoid of blacks. Notwithstanding the fact that more than half of the Cuban population is now made up of blacks, a simple look at Castro's ministers and generals, show a group of white old men. Proof of the above is that not a single one of the Army officers involved in the "drug trafficking" case of 1989, all of them men close to Castro, was black. As a matter of fact, blacks have had a larger representation in most, if not all, of previous Cuban governments than in Castro's. But a notable exception to the small presence of blacks in the Castro government is found in the Cuban army.

Photographs of Cuban army units show close to 90 percent of black soldiers. But officers, particularly high rank senior officers, are 95 percent white.

Evidently Castro, like the leaders of many imperialist nations, uses racial minorities as cannon fodder. Most Cuban soldiers among the several thousands killed in Angola were black. (Tough the Castro government has never provided any figures, analysts estimate Cuban casualties in Africa between 4,000 and 7,000.)

Another fact that makes one wonder about Castro's professed love for blacks (he visits Harlem every time he comes to the U.S.), is that American blacks are seemingly not welcome in Cuba. Proof of it is that, with the exception of a few black leaders like Jessee Jackson and Louis Farrakhan, American blacks have chosen not to visit Cuba and avoid the humiliations Cuban blacks suffer every day.

Since the very first day he took power in Cuba, Fidel Castro plotted using the American black to spearhead his revolution inside the United States. As early as September 1960, while Castro was visiting the US to deliver a speech at the UN General Assembly he staged an incident and moved from his hotel in midtown Manhattan to the Hotel Theresa located in Harlem.

The Hotel Theresa is in the heart of Harlem, in an area known as the center of black nationalism. Down the street from the Theresa was Lewis Michaux's African Memorial Book Store, the biggest black nationalist book store in the country. Around the corner was the Harlem Labor Center, a black militant organization. Within a few blocks from the hotel were located the offices of several black nationalist publications and organizations, including the Black Muslims. During his stay at the Theresa Castro met several times with Malcolm X and other black leaders. Some authors claim that Black Revolution was a hand-made creation of Fidel Castro, carefully directed from Cuba.

In the early sixties some American black leaders, among them Huey Newton, Stokely Carmichael, Rap Brown, Bobby Seal, Eldridge Cleaver, and Robert F. Williams, were routinely visiting Havana to experience first hand the marvels of a society free of racial discrimination. It is rumored that some of them had urban guerrilla training in Cuba. It is not a coincidence that in summer of 1967, while the Organization of Latin American Solidarity was gathering in Havana, riots were the erupting almost daily in many American cities. Detailed instruction for methods on urban warfare, later applied Watts, Detroit, Newark and other riot scenes, appeared in The Crusader , a Cuban-financed newsletter mailed from Canada to the U.S. Copies of Ché Guevara's manual on guerrilla warfare were sold by the thousands in book stores frequented by black nationalists, such as Vaughan's in Detroit, Robin's in Philadelphia, and Michaux's in New York.

Eventually, however, the relations between Castro and the American blacks went sour. Finally, after some bold attempts at controlling the American black revolutionary movements in the 1960s, the honeymoon between Castro and the American black militants is completely over. Now, perhaps with the exception of a black fascist like Lewis Farrakhan, no American black is using Castro's Cuba anymore as an example of a racism-free society.

In the mid-sixties some Cuba intellectuals, among them Walterio Carbonell, a Marxist sociologist and a friend of Castro from their days at the University of Havana, and Nancy Morejón a young poet, tried to create a Cuban version of the Black Power movement. As soon as Castro's secret police got word of it they were detained. Morejón quickly realized her ideological mistake and promised to reform. Carbonell, who believed that there were too many whites on Fidel's non-racist society, persisted on his ideas and was given a two year hard-labor sentence in one of Casto's gulags.

So much for Fidel Castro's non-racist Cuban society.