The Plight of Blacks in Cuba

Via the University of Miami’s Institute for Cuban and Cuban American Studies:

Issue 60- April 2013

Cuba Facts is an ongoing series of succinct fact sheets on various topics, including, but not limited to, political structure, health, economy, education, nutrition, labor, business, foreign investment, and demographics, published and updated on a regular basis by the Cuba Transition Project staff.

The Plight of Blacks in Cuba*

  • More than 60% of Cubans in the island are black or mulatos.
  • About 80% of Cubans jailed in the island for political offenses are black or mulatos.
  • Cuba’s Communist Party politburo, the island’s ruling body, is composed of 15 members, out of which 2 are black.
  • Cuba’s Council of State is composed of 31 members, only 7 are black.
  • Less than 10% of Cuba’s top Generals are black.
  • Most Cubans outside the island are white. Therefore blacks and mulatos in Cuba receive very few remittances from abroad.
  • A profound social and economic division has developed between Afro-Cubans and whites, which receive the bulk of remittances from abroad.
  • The recent relaxation of restrictions for Cuban-Americans to travel to Cuba has had the unintended result of providing money to the Castro regime and money, food and clothing, almost exclusively, to white families in the island.
  • The Cuban government discriminates against blacks for jobs in the tourist industry believing that tourists in Cuba prefer to deal with whites and light skinned people. The majority of employees in this industry are white, thus depriving the black population of access to foreign currency.
  • Most of the leaders of the Cuban opposition are black:
    • Berta Soler and Rosario Morales la Rosa, representatives of the Ladies in White.
    • Jorge Luis Antunez, OZT National Civic Resistance and Civil Disobedience Front.
    • Gillermo Fariñas, Anti-Totalitarian United Front.
    • Yris Tamara Perez, president, the Rosa Parks Movement for Civil Rights.
    • Oscar Elias Biscet, M.D., president, the Lawton Foundation.
    • Damaris Moya, president, the Central Opposition Coalition.
    • Sonia Garro, member, Independent Afro-Cuban Foundation, jailed for more than a year.
    • Ramon Alejandro Munoz, member, Independent Afro-Cuban Foundation, also jailed for more than a year.
    • Laritza Diversent, independent lawyer and blogger, arrested, censored and persecuted.
  • Roberto Zurbano, director of Cuba’s Editorial House Casa de las Americas, a government entity, wrote an article on March 23, 2013 in the New York Times on how the revolution has not improved life for blacks in Cuba. Days after, Zurbano, a black himself, was removed from his position.
  • In 2003, three black Cubans, Lorenzo Enrique Copello, Bárbaro Leodán Sevilla García, and Jorge Luis Martínez were summarily executed by firing squad by the Castro regime after their attempt to steal a raft and flee the island. There was no violence and no one was hurt.


* This report was prepared by Jennifer Hernandez, Research Assistant, Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies, University of Miami.