Black and Counter-revolutionary in Cuba?
August 23, 2016
By Yusimi Rodriguez
HAVANA TIMES — I regularly read the articles written by my fellow
writer, Elio Delgado Legon, who adds a touch of humor to this website
for many of its readers. Personally, his greatest virtue, without him
intending to do this, is to show the plurality of Havana Times, an
independent media website which Delgado often criticizes, with a space
for someone whose ideas vary greatly from those of the majority of its
collaborators and readers. This inclusive space for all kinds of ideas
and opinions is the greatest difference between the Cuban government's
media and Havana Times, which isn't an institution owned by any
Recently, a reader asked Elio Delgado, in a comment left on his post, if
he was paid to write his articles. This is a question that has crossed
my mind every time Elio Delgado labels independent journalists
"mercenaries". I still don't know the answer to that question and I hope
it's negative: it's the only way that my colleague would seem coherent
to me. If it's positive, I ask myself whether our colleague thinks it's
justified to charge for writing in independent media, when it's to talk
about the government in a positive light.
In a recent post, Elio classifies the hunger strike carried out by
Guillermo Farinas as a "business". I don't know Farinas personally, but
I doubt he'd be so stupid as to start a hunger strike for money when the
chances are that he'll probably never be able to enjoy it. So many
hunger strikes take their toll on your body; holding another one is more
like committing suicide than a business really.
We live in a country where you are guilty until you're proven innocent,
and even if your innocence is proven, where you can be charged on
conviction, without the need for evidence; where political prisoners and
prisoners of conscience aren't recognized as such. Therefore, I'm forced
to seriously doubt the charges filed at Santa Clara's Provincial Court
against Guillermo Farinas.
However, I do coincide with Elio Delgado on one point: I wouldn't
stretch out my hand to Luis Posada Carriles either. I don't hate him,
not like those who lost their relatives in terrorist attacks which he
has confessed to or is suspected of having carried out. However, I don't
identify myself with him or his methods. Nevertheless, I find it
contradictory that our colleague resorts to precisely the words of
former US President George W. Bush to reinforce the idea that whoever is
friends with a terrorist (although stretching your hand out in greeting
doesn't automatically make you anybody's friend) is also a terrorist.
Seeing as our colleague has opened this door, let's examine it shall we.
In the film City in Red, which was recently aired on Cuban TV, the main
character says to his father with pride: "I make bombs." Last night,
they aired the film Operacion Fangio about the kidnapping of the
Argentinian race car driver who was kidnapped by the July 26th Movement,
which had an operations and sabotage unit. For decades, the Cuban
government offered refuge to US citizens who had been charged with
crimes including murder in their own country; many of them hijacked
airplanes to get to Cuba.
Just for the record, I don't believe that whoever is friends with a
terrorist is also a terrorist.
Another detail which has caught my attention in Elio Delgado's article:
"…for being a counter-revolutionary in spite of being black…" (referring
to Guillermo Farinas). Although I don't have my photo up on Havana
Times, readers should know that I am black, and can imagine how taken
aback I was when I realized how charged this phrase was with racism.
Racism isn't an issue that belongs exclusively to black people or
so-called ethnic minorities. Many white people have got involved, and
even lost their lives, in the struggle for equal civil rights in the US
and in the fight against apartheid in South Africa. Many white people
fight against racism even today. And I'm sure that a lot of the white
audience were able to pick up on the racist mentality that lies behind
that phrase. Not only Elio Delgado's own racist mentality, but also that
of the political regime that was established in Cuba in 1959.
The regime has denied Cubans their right to freedom of expression, to
join political parties of our own accord and in a legal sense, to choose
a different path from that set out by Fidel Castro. We've been injected
with the idea that if white people don't have the right to oppose the
regime, we black Cubans certainly don't, because if we've managed to
become something it's thanks to the Revolution. In other words, you
can't be both black and "counter-revolutionary" (a term which they use
to discredit dissidents).
We can't deny the fact that this so-called Revolution has improved the
lives of a large part of the Cuban population, including those of
Afro-Descendants. However, the regime has taken advantage of these
improvements in the same way that Carlos Manuel de Cespedes did when he
freed his slaves, inviting them to join the war against Spain: thereby
guaranteeing committed, indebted subordinates.
In one of those articles that appear and then are spread virally about
by the Left, an exiled black Cuban intellectual stated that in the
Revolution, the black man became a subordinate revolutionary.
Elio Delgado claims that it would have been impossible for Guillermo
Farinas to have studied a university degree before 1959; another idea
planted by the regime to convert us into subordinates. Not all black
Cuban families owe their first university degree to the rebellion led by
A lot of the assaults and beatings that happen here, which Elio denies,
appear in videos. When somebody who dares to disagree is a black person,
beatings are accompanied by insults about the color of his skin: "black
shit", "ungrateful niggers", "…some niggers who never had any rights and
are now demanding more than what they have."
I'm sure Elio Delgado will deny his racist mentality and argue the fact
that he has a lot of black friends. I once knew a black man who, when he
went to see his white girlfriend for the first time at home, was
welcomed by her parents with the utmost kindness… while they understood
him to be just a friend from her pre-university class. I must note that
when the girl presented him as her boyfriend, her father "went white".
By the way, her father had a lot of black friends and had fought for the
"Revolution" in the Sierra Maestra.
Source: Black and Counter-revolutionary in Cuba? - Havana Times.org -