Travelers Ignore Castro’s Racism
The criticism thus far of the Cuban vacation taken by Beyonce and Jay-Z has been easy: celebrities doing as they please, regardless of the circumstances, above the letter or intent of the law and unconstrained to consider the consequences. However, these are the low hanging mangos. Consider the more disturbing aspects of this trip.
Unlike most Americans, the Knowles-Carter’s wealth affords them the resources to be enlightened about the evolving situation in Cuba (or anywhere). Should they have known of the severe racism and human rights abuses in Cuba and that overwhelmingly Afro-Cubans are the victims? Yes. In fact, detention and repression in Cuba are at all-time highs and like the Jim Crow South, they are arbitrary, unjustified and targeted towards blacks.
What has become of the Cuban revolution from a racial perspective? Blacks remain second class Cubans, worse than before. As Che Guevara said early on, “we’re going to do for blacks exactly what blacks did for the revolution. By which I mean: nothing.” He was not promoting egalitarianism when he said, “the negro is indolent and lazy, and spends his money on frivolities, whereas the European is forward-looking, organized and intelligent.” Does it matter that he was referring to the Congolese?
More recently, Mark Sawyer, a political scientist at UCLA quotes a Cuban Interior Ministry official on page 119 of his book, Racial Politics in Post-Revolutionary Cuba, “it is simply a sociological fact that blacks are more violent and criminal than whites. They also do not work as hard and cannot be trusted”. This from a government official. Jay-Z, please empty your pockets before you leave Cuba.
These reflect the unspoken and unintended consequence of Marxism in the Caribbean: the consideration of blacks as equals, which Fidel Castro, et al, despite popular belief (propaganda) never fully accepted or dealt with over 54 years. His fiat mandating the end of racial discrimination to avoid this critical issue had the opposite and pernicious effect of exponentially increasing culturally and institutionally inherent racism there; it was, to be charitable, a cop out.
Yet, when confronted with reality, the incredible poverty in Cuba, race has been a convenient excuse for failure. When asked after a few years why the revolution was struggling, Fidel Castro extemporaneously replied, referring to the mass exodus of professional whites, “you expect me to build a communist utopia with these people (blacks)?”
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