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Commentary: Castro's (white) successor highlights racism in Cuba
Published on March 1, 2013 Email To Friend    Print Version

By Anthony L Hall

I am among those who have been agitating for years for the United States to lift its hypocritical, unconscionable, and demonstrably misguided embargo against Cuba. Not least because the people who have been (and are being) harmed most by it are poor Cubans, the majority of whom are black.

Instead of merely extolling the Pope’s moral authority, President Bush should rise above political pandering and heed his call to end America’s inhumane and immoral embargo against Cuba. After all, when a communist dictator can claim papal sanction to dismiss the president of the United States as a hypocrite, this alone should cause a God fearing president like George W. Bush to reexamine his policies, if not his soul. (“President Bush, Seal Your and Pope’s Legacy, Lift Embargo Against Cuba,” The iPINIONS Journal, April 11, 2005)

Anthony L. Hall is a Bahamian who descends from the Turks and Caicos Islands. He is an international lawyer and political consultant - headquartered in Washington DC - who also publishes a current events weblog, The iPINIONS Journal, at
I have even suggested that the same moral and pragmatic principle that is leading President Obama to break with his predecessors to hold direct talks with Iran (and even with terrorist groups like the Taliban) will lead him to break with his predecessors to lift this embargo….

But I have always been keen to ensure that my support for lifting the embargo is not mistaken as support for the Castro regime.

Which brings me to the announcement Rául Castro (81) made this week. He announced that Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez (52) is, for now, the anointed one to succeed him when his and Fidel’s 50-year rule comes to an end.

It is surreal enough that Díaz-Canel will have to cool his heels for another five years until Rául officially retires in 2018. But if Fidel handing power to Rául did not betray all pretense of democracy in Cuba, surely Rául tapping Díaz-Canel as his successor does.

Even worse, though, is that none of the Castros’ political enablers in Africa or the Caribbean seem the least bit troubled that, despite Cuba being predominantly black, no black stood a snowball’s chance in Hell of even being considered to succeed Rául.

Indeed, the parade of black democratic leaders visiting Cuba over the years to pay homage to the Castros must have been even more disheartening to black Cubans than the parade of white democratic leaders visiting South Africa during Apartheid to pay homage to its leaders must have been to black South Africans.

This might seem unfairly provocative, if not uniformed, given the now-conventional wisdom of Castro’s propaganda about his revolution ending racial inequality. Except that my contention is supported by no less a person than Dr Esteban Morales Domínguez, professor of economics and political science at the University of Havana and member of the Cuban Academy of Sciences, in Challenges of the Racial Problem in Cuba (Havana: Editorial de Ciencias Sociales, 2008).

Here, courtesy of his research, are just a few apartheid-like statistics about life in Cuba:

• Cuba’s total civil and public leadership is predominantly white (71%), despite a black population of somewhere between 62-72%;

• Privately owned land is 98% white; only 2% of the private sector in land is in the hands of blacks; and

• Blacks have only 5% interests in state cooperatives and with growing privatizing of land, they will be totally disenfranchised.

And here is how Dr Morales himself debunked the myth of Castro’s revolution ushering in a new era of racial equality in the October-December 2008 quarterly magazine Temas:

The way power is distributed in present-day Cuban society does not go beyond what existed prior to 1959. White dominance is still forcefully expressed, especially at the level of what is called the ‘new economy.’ This is especially evident in the absence of blacks in the upper leadership levels of the state, government and institutions of civil society in general....

To be fair, Dr Morales states (and I readily acknowledge) that the Castros did take steps to eradicate institutional racism in the early years of their revolution. But even though recognized as equal in the eyes of the law, blacks were (and still are) denied equal opportunity to excel in practically every aspect of life in Cuba.

Indeed, it is a damning indictment of not only Castro’s leadership but also the political judgment of anyone who glorifies him that the vast majority of black Cubans live in more squalid conditions today – 47 years into his socialist revolution – than they did under the Apartheid-style dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista, the man he overthrew. (“Dancing on Castro’s Grave Is Not Only Unseemly; It’s Premature,” The iPINIONS Journal, August 2, 2006)

This is why I have continually admonished those, especially blacks, who stand so proudly in solidarity with the Castros to be mindful of the contradiction, if not treachery, inherent in doing so. It is also why I have continually argued for a balance to be struck between calling on the United States to end its embargo and calling on the Castros to end their apartheid-like, totalitarian rule.

Finally, just as no commentary on Cuba can fail to mention the embargo, none can fail to mention the Cuban exiles who are primarily responsible for keeping it in place. Accordingly, consider this:

It is a testament to the conceit and arrogance of Miami Cubans that they firmly believe that – once the Castro brothers die off – they will be able to return to Cuba to inherit the political power and social privileges their ancestors abandoned decades ago…

But … chances are that a well-indoctrinated Elian Gonzalez will be Cuban dictator before Miami Cubans are disabused of their antic pining for their paradise lost
…. (“Dancing on Castro’s Grave Is Not Only Unseemly; It’s Premature,” The iPINIONS Journal, August 2, 2006)

In other words, there is no doubt that, when/if he assumes power, the only mandate Díaz-Canel will recognize is that which compels him to honor the Castros’ legacy.

¡Viva la Revolución!...?

Related commentaries:
Bush…lift embargo
Dancing on Castro’s grave
Castro admits his model has failed
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