Fidel Castro died aged 90 in his sleep. No thanks to America. Castro rejected America and its decadence. Consequently, he escaped 600 assassination attempts. From Dwight Eisenhower to George Bush Junior (10 Presidents) tried to kill and otherwise oust him from power at the cost of more than $1bn. Castro was a man with a radical vision. He overthrew the military dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista in 1959. It was a revolution for the people, but I am still not sure for which people. As much as I saw Castro as a revolutionist I was never confident of his position on race.
Cuba Africa and The Caribbean
Fidel Castro was the lone voice in the western hemisphere who stood up to American and its Munroe Doctrine. The overthrow of Prime Minister Eric Gairy in Grenada’s bloodless coups d’état may have been an echo of that influence. However, the Munroe Doctrine was a white on white dichotomy.
Castro has shown solidarity with the developing world. He has provided doctors and teachers free of charge to Caribbean islands and Africa. Castro lent military support to Ethiopia and Mozambique. He sent 25,000 troops to Angola, to fight against apartheid South Africa. He has shown solidarity with Black America giving amnesty to Black Panthers like Assata Shakur. In times of humanitarian crisis, Castro has been the unsung hero in countries like Haiti and Sierra Leon. However, it is possible to explain these actions as a benevolent necessity. After all, Cuba had been marginalised by the West and Russia; their ally collapsed in the 1980s.
Fidel Castro appeared to support ‘the cause’ on the world stage. Yet at home, the story is not so, pardon the pun, – black and white. Before Castro’s revolution, Cuba was as segregated as America. Two years after it Castro considered Cuba post-racial. He said that the ‘Revolution… enacted laws which ended discrimination, humiliation, and the suffering of the people.’ That may be true for the Euro-Cubans.
Cuba, like some other countries subjected to European rule, often refer to people not of European descent as the ethnic minority. Cuba’s population is estimated to be at least 60% Afro-Cuban. So they are not a minority at all. Yet, local and public leadership is about 70% Euro-Cuban. Fidel Castro handed the reigns of power to his brother Raúl. It reminded me of the way the Afrikaans thought it was their duty to look after the childlike Africans.
Cuba has high levels of literacy and life expectancy because it has universal and free education and healthcare. These benefits have reached the poorest people in Cuba, who also happen to be Afro-Cubans. Nonetheless, a study by Esteban Morales Domínguez, a Cuban economist, found that professional positions such as scientists, technicians and university professors were 80% Euro-Cubans. The lucrative tourist industry is the same. Euro-Cuban’s are the management and Afro-Cubans the janitors; the Guinness Effect. Meanwhile, black women have to supplement their income with prostitution.
Fidel Castro And Cuba’s White Revolution
Cubans do not speak of racism. They deny it because there is a sizable mestizo population. That union of black and white is held up of proof of integration and equality. Another reason is one can end up in jail for 17 years like Jorge Luis García Pérez. So Afro-Cubans are denied freedom of speech. For them, the revolution has not begun.
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