Thursday, November 29, 2007

Cuba is no paradise for blacks

Last modified 11/29/2007 - 6:54 am
Originally created 112907

Cuba is no paradise for blacks

By Special to the Times-Union

As Cuban-Americans living in Florida, we are appalled by Tonyaa
Weathersbee's article on blacks in Cuba. The administration of the
newspaper obviously did not check to verify the facts stated in it.

Ever since the founding of the Cuban republic in 1901, all public
colleges and universities had been free and open to all races. Although,
for decades now, one of the slogans the Cuban government has lived by
is, "The universities are for the revolutionaries" only.

Weathersbee quoted someone as saying, "It's an undeniable fact that
black Cubans have made more advancements in the 47 years under Castro
than they ever had before."

However, in Cuba, prior to the revolution, not only could blacks study
any profession, but many had been federal senators, representatives,
secretaries of governments, Supreme Court justices and even one
popularly elected president (Fulgencio Batista, 1940-44).

Today, after nearly 48 years of revolution, the Cuban government can
show only one black in high position in the government.

Publishing articles like this one is a disservice to the interest of
this country, to the journalism profession and to freedom in general.

It is also a disservice, of course, to the legitimate interests of
freedom and democracy for Cuba, and to those who fight to achieve them.
It is surely an affront to the good and peaceful racial relations of all

In 1961, during the Bay of Pigs invasion (after President Kennedy
ordered the U.S. military personnel to return to the U.S., even though
their help had been promised to the Cuban freedom fighters), Fidel
Castro went to inspect the prisoners and noticed a black soldier
approaching him. He asked him: "You're black. What are you doing here?
Don't you remember that blacks are not allowed to swim at the beaches?"

That was a veiled reference to the Havana Yacht Club and other private
recreational places where blacks were not allowed to be members,
although since 1940 all beaches and their adjacent waters were public
and accessible to all.

The Cuban fighter, Tomas Cruz, answered: "I came to Cuba to liberate my
country, not to swim at the beach."

Of course, there was racial discrimination in Cuba prior to the
revolution, but very mild if we compare it with the United States at
that time, and insignificant if we compare it with the position of the
blacks in Castro's revolution.

Don't Weathersbee and her source know that the most prominent political
opponent to the totalitarian Cuban regime (jailed for many years now for
simply using his voice against the atrocities of the Cuban Communist
tyranny) is black physician Oscar Elias Bicet?

Of course, they know!

Josefa Quintana, Ph.D, a Miami journalist; Evelio Bofill, a Miami Beach
physician; Rafael Gomez, a Jacksonville physician; and Otto
Rodriguez-Viamonte of Miami.

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