Jose Martí, racism, and Cuba’s Castro dictatorship

John Suarez in Notes from the Cuban Exile Quarter:

Reflection on José Martí, Racism, and the Castro Regime

“Slavery does not imply inferiority in the enslaved race, since Gauls with blue eyes and blond hair were sold as serfs with shackles around their necks in the markets of Rome. This example helps make ignorant whites less prejudiced.”  – José Martí “My Race” Patria, April 16 1893

Reviewing José Martí on the subject of racism within the Cuban context is depressing, and especially the above statement on slavery. Fidel Castro’s revolution over six decades enslaved an entire people. Regardless of one’s race, religion, or class all were forced to be subservient to the Castro family or face exile, prison, torture, extrajudicial killings or firing squads.

Reading The New York Times one must parse it in the same way than one does Granma, when reading anything they write or publish on Cuba. The Gray Lady recently published an opinion piece by French journalist and essayist Jean François Fogel that reports that Cuba under the Castro dictatorship is “a segregated society: 70 percent of black and mixed-race Cubans said they didn’t have access to the internet, compared with 25 percent of white Cubans. The racial wealth gap was also vast: While 50 percent of white Cubans had a banking account, only 11 percent of black Cubans said they had one. Moreover, white Cubans received 78 percent of remittances to Cuba, and they controlled 98 percent of private companies.”

These numbers are questionable, but the underlying sentiment is that there is a racial divide in Cuba today. Worse yet the writer claims that selecting a white prime minister was a betrayal of racial equality in Cuba. This ignores the reality that both the president and the prime minister are puppets controlled by the Castro family. 

In order to justify the present sorry condition of Cubans, Fogel rewrites history claiming that “the dominance of the white political leader and the disenfranchisement of black Cubans have always been a part of the island’s history.” This ignores the role played by strong black leaders that changed things for the better in the wars of independence and in the first half century of the Republic. It also ignores the mixed raced strong man who dominated Cuban political life for two decades. He was first elected president democratically in 1940 and later returned to destroy the democratic order taking power as dictator in 1952.. 

This blog entry is an attempt to challenge François Fogel’s false narrative highlighting some important historic figures.

Continue reading HERE.