Wednesday, July 14, 2010

At the United States Social Forum: Black Activists Defend the Cuban Revolution

At USSF: Black activists defend the Cuban revolution

By Dolores Cox
Published Jul 11, 2010 11:23 PM

The need for African-American solidarity with Cuba was the subject of a U.S. Social Forum workshop organized by the Cuba Working Group of the Black Left Unity Network on June 23 in Detroit. The group challenged the recent accusations of Cuba being a racist society. The aim of all unjustified attacks against Cuba, of course, has been to discredit the social, political and economic gains of the Cuban socialist revolution and its system of ensuring equitable distribution of resources for all.

The U.S. has systematically and continually sought to undermine and destroy Cuba. It was mentioned that sadly some misguided African-American intellectuals and celebrities have unwittingly bought into this accusation, promulgated by Cuban expatriates, dissenters and, of course, U.S. and Western-led imperialists.

The workshop gave an overview of Cuba’s struggle against 450 years of colonialism and neocolonial exploitation and its war of independence from Spain. Cuba then succeeded in abolishing slavery in 1886.

This struggle occurred at the same time that African Americans were fighting for their freedom in the U.S., a struggle that continues today. U.S. racist intervention and occupation in Cuba in 1898, however, reestablished institutionalized racism in Cuba. But the successful 1959 Cuban socialist revolution officially abolished legalized racism.

Since the revolution, Cuba has been actively working toward combating and eradicating centuries of racism created by its former colonizers, Spain and the U.S. But it’s impossible to eradicate racism overnight in any underdeveloped country. Meanwhile, while these claims of Cuba’s racism are made, poverty, unjust exploitation, gender discrimination and racial oppression are far from being eliminated here in the U.S. — the richest country in the world.

Cuba’s socialist government utilizes “adaptive leadership” to address and solve its problems and engages its people in the process of improving society and workers’ empowerment.

Despite the almost 50-year-old inhumane U.S. blockade, Cuba’s socialist system has managed to eradicate illiteracy, guarantee free education and health care, and provide housing.

Cuba has progressive laws to protect all its citizens regardless of skin color as well as anti-racist, anti-discrimination equality policies and programs. Additionally, Cuba has a history of internationalism with Africa and elsewhere, despite its lack of resources. The workshop stated that Black Cubans have been instrumental in transforming their society.

Tony Vandermeer, professor of African Studies at Boston’s University of Massachusetts, reported in the workshop that he recently took five young students to Cuba when Cuba held its 10th anniversary Slave Remembrance Day. The students went sailing in a small replica of the Amistad slave ship. They were asked to imagine the physical and mental journey of enslaved Africans crossing the Atlantic during the European slave trade.

One student attending the workshop referred to the experience as terrifying. He also mentioned how “free” he felt while in Cuba and praised its humanity and accomplishments. Students also met with Cuban students and government officials.

Several Black people in the multinational workshop testified that going to Cuba was a “life-changing” experience. They reinforced the panel’s assessments and impressions of Cuba. While the U.S. makes it very difficult for people in the U.S to travel to Cuba, workshop panel members encouraged everyone to visit Cuba, especially young people, so that they can become informed and think for themselves.

The BLUN announced a “Thank You Cuba!” campaign, with postcards thanking Cuba for supporting the Haitian people and their solidarity with Katrina survivors and calling for the end to U.S. travel restrictions, the blockade and freedom for the Cuban Five. It was also mentioned that Cuba is in solidarity with Palestinian freedom fighters.

BLUN is distributing postcards for endorsement signatures. After collecting the postcards, they plan to organize a Black delegation to deliver them to Cuba. For more information go to

Finally, the workshop emphasized that Cuba has been an historic ally of the U.S. Black Freedom Movement and that the African-American community must help Cuba protect the rich gains of its revolutionary process.
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