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wikileaks barbados – “Cuba’s Big Black Lie” – Afro Cubans catching hell


Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09BRIDGETOWN180 2009-03-24 15:21 2011-08-26 00:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Bridgetown

VZCZCXRO8351
RR RUEHGR
DE RUEHWN #0180/01 0831521
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 241521Z MAR 09
FM AMEMBASSY BRIDGETOWN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7243
INFO RUCNCOM/EC CARICOM COLLECTIVE
RUEHUB/USINT HAVANA 0133

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BRIDGETOWN 000180

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12948: N/A
TAGS: PREL PHUM CU XL
SUBJECT: Cuban Dissident Blasts Cuban Racism, Sparking Vigorous
Debate in Barbados

——-
Summary
——-

¶1. (SBU) A rare public presentation by a critic of Cuba sponsored by
the University of the West Indies drew big crowds, sparked a heated
debate, and evoked a hysterical (in both senses of the word)
response from the Cuban Ambassador in Barbados. Afro-Cuban
dissident Carlos Moore highlighted the pervasive racism that exists
in Cuba and the lack of genuinely democratic practices. The
willingness of the university and the Barbadian media to provide a
forum for critical perspectives of Cuba stood in contrast to both
the Barbadian government’s usual non-critical support of Cuba in
Human Rights fora and the usual academic and media political
correctness about the goodness of all things Cuban. The volatile
reactions from many audience members to the critical views, however,
demonstrated that many Barbadians are still loathe to call their
island neighbor to account. End Summary.

—————————————
Racism Alive and Well in Cuban Paradise
—————————————

¶2. (U) Carlos Moore, an Afro-Cuban dissident and professor of
international studies, delivered a public lecture on the realities
and impact of racism in Cuba at the University of the West Indies in
Barbados March 19. The lecture, part of a multi-country book tour
to promote the professor’s recently-completed autobiography, was
sponsored by UWI’s new Cultural Studies Department. Well attended
by university students, members of the public, and current and
former members of the diplomatic corps, the presentation has
received extensive coverage in the local press.

¶3. (U) Moore’s lecture followed on the heels of the publication of
an open letter he wrote to Cuban President Raul Castro entitled
“Cuba’s Big Black Lie.” In the letter and in his lecture, Moore
derided as deceitful past declarations by Cuba’s ruling elite that
racial discrimination in Cuba had been eliminated. “Wherever we look
in socialist Cuba,” Moore contended, “our eyes are confronted with a
cobweb of social and racial inequities and racial hatred against
black people.” In his lecture, Moore shared that, as a young man,
he had strongly supported the revolution and been a devotee of Fidel
Castro. However, this support quickly turned to disillusionment
because of what Moore called the revolutionary government’s
ineptness at destroying the legacy of white supremacy and racism
against Afro-Cubans.

¶4. (U) Moore was among those imprisoned for protesting the
revolution’s refusal to advance racial integration. He said he
spent 28 days in jail, and was subsequently sent to a labor camp for
7 years before escaping to the Embassy of Guinea and eventually
making his way to the U.S., after which he lived in exile in several
countries for 35 years, still a committed Marxist with strong
criticism both for America’s Cuba policy and for Cuba’s
institutionalized racism.

¶5. (U) Moore’s key message was that the racial divide and the
resulting tension in Cuba have grown over the past 50 years and the
country is now a racial powder keg on the verge of explosion. The
situation is dire — contained, or perhaps only delayed, by the
recent release of statistics by Raul Castro that acknowledge a
racial problem exists. Moore cited recently released GOC statistics
that show, he said, that Afro-Cubans are disproportionately
unemployed, under housed, and unrepresented in positions of
leadership at all levels. Moore contended that the reality of a
small minority white ruling elite in a country that is 70-75 percent
Afro-Cuban could not continue for much longer without either
providing Afro-Cubans greater access to government, business, and
military leadership positions, or facing the real possibility of
civil unrest.

——————————————
Swimming Against a Strong pro-Cuban Stream
——————————————

¶6. (U) Moore’s lecture was followed by a lively question and answer
session, during which it quickly emerged that his compelling
personal story and factually argued points had swayed few in the
audience from their firmly held affinity for Cuba. While some in
the audience thanked the professor and focused their questions on
distinctions between different kinds of racism and the plight of
black women in Cuba, others were aggressive, forcefully pressing
professor Moore on why he had not addressed the white communities in
Cuba that had also suffered or why he had not highlighted the fact
that the Cuban military under Fidel had gone to Africa to liberate
blacks from oppression.

——————————————— ——-
Cuban Ambassador Blasts Free Press, Academic Freedom
——————————————— ——-

BRIDGETOWN 00000180 002 OF 002

¶7. (SBU) The publication of Moore’s letter and the extensive media
coverage of the lecture sparked an immediate harangue from Cuba’s
Ambassador to Barbados, who castigated the Nation newspaper for
printing what he termed an “outrageous and hostile” article and
coverage of an “anti-revolutionary” lecture. The Ambassador also
attacked UWI for supporting “the propaganda of defamation and lies
against Cuba.” Clearly unfamiliar with the role and functioning of
a free press, the Cuban expressed his hope that the newspaper” will
not publish, in the future, any more unpleasant articles like the
one I am complaining about which does not correspond or identify
with the traditional and magnificent relations and collaborations
which exists between the Government and people of Barbados and the
Government and people of Cuba.”

——-
Comment
——-

¶8. (SBU) Both UWI and local media are to be commended for providing
a forum for a Cuban dissident to air a rare criticism of Cuba in the
Eastern Caribbean, where solidarity with Castro’s Cuba has long been
an unchallenged shibboleth and honest discussions of human rights in
Cuba are rare. Nevertheless, the reaction to Moore’s comments made
it clear that many Barbadians, still anchored in the past of
romanticized support for the Cuban revolution, are simply not yet
willing or able to come to grips with open criticism of Cuba. While
feelings of non-aligned small-state fraternity and appreciation for
Cuban medical assistance programs color many opinions in the region,
the Barbadian affinity for Cuba still seems oddly juxtaposed against
a society that boasts of having the longest democratic traditions in
the Hemisphere, holds itself to the highest ideals of protection for
human rights, and has labored mightily to overcome its own heritage
of slavery and racial division. Still, the willingness of the
university and media to contemplate a non-traditional narrative on
Cuba offers a glimmer of hope that Barbados could play a more
constructive role within the region as it comes to terms with how to
deal with an evolving Cuba in the years ahead.

HARDT [the new ambassador to Guyana. but months after the announcement he has not shown up in Georgetown yet]

Original column Published on: 3/17/2009 in the Nation, Barbados
MR PRESIDENT:

I AM OBLIGED to frame this as an open letter because it is the only way I may
get through to you directly.

Moreover, I want my fellow citizens and those worldwide who are interested in
the vital problems of our times, to hear what I am about to say.

You are a descendant of Europeans born in Spain; I am a descendant of Africans
born in the Caribbean.

We are both Cubans. However, being Cuban confers no specific privilege on either
of us as human beings. What it does confer is the right to have a say in the
affairs of the country of our birth. So, I avail myself of that right
unapologetically.

I am aware of the vast differences that separate our respective ideas about
life, social relations and how the affairs of our country should be conducted.

We also differ in how to interpret the daily realities that negatively impact
the lives of most Cubans. But you as the president of our country, and I as a
citizen, share a common responsibility; to shoulder the burden of shaping our
present and moulding the destiny of our nation.

Regardless of class, gender, race, sexual orientation or political affiliation,
whatever Cubans do, or refrain from doing will determine the future for all.

I have always upheld and respected our national sovereignty. That is why I
steadfastly opposed any measure that could have endangered Cuba’s independence,
or hurt the best interests of its citizens, whether it be an economic embargo or
threats against our national territory.

However, those same reasons have made me an advocate for the inalienable right
of the Cuban people, or of any other people for that matter, to shape its future
and manage its own affairs through representative institutions and elected
officials.

The latter are chosen in truly free and fair democratic elections. During such
elections, different ideas are debated and organised movements and parties, with
differing political platforms and social proposals, vie for power.

Against dictatorship

I believe that only then can a people exercise its right to choose whatever
suits them best. Therefore, I am against any form of dictatorship or
totalitarian system, whether it be led by the so-called Right, or by what is
designated as the Left.

I certainly do not share the opinion that democracy is a luxury reserved for the
rich.

I will not beat around the bush to express my strong conviction that racism is
our country’s most serious and tenacious problem.

It is a phenomenon that gains new ground and expands its influence over our body
politic, cultural life and economy.

Notwithstanding the grandiose, but vacuous speeches, or bombastic but no less
deceitful declarations on the alleged elimination of racism and racial
discrimination, wherever we look in socialist Cuba our eyes are confronted with
a cobweb of social and racial inequities and racial hatred against black people.

White supremacy

No doubt, these issues were bequeathed to us through centuries of oppression.
The revolution that empowered itself in 1959 merely inherited them.

However, the revolutionary leaders showed themselves particularly inept at
correctly interpreting that reality. In the final analysis, these leaders were
men and women from the white middle class that had always dominated the country,
monopolised its political life and determined the direction of its economy.

Rather than destroy the legacy of white supremacy and its concomitant racism,
the revolutionary government contributed to solidify and expand it.

It did so, when it declared the non-existence of racism, the end to racial
discrimination and the advent of a “post-racial” socialist democracy in Cuba.
Therefore, the leaders of the revolution that enacted so many beneficial social
changes for our country, and the people who wholeheartedly supported the
revolutionary process, were hostage to the same brutal past birthed by racial
slavery.

As a consequence, Cuba is a country that speaks with two totally different
voices, one white and one black, although at specific moments of our common
history, these voices have spoken in unison.

Socialist Cuba is the only country in the world to have publicly proclaimed it
had eliminated racism and racial discrimination and empowered its black
population.

As a result, the revolutionary government repressed, persecuted and forced into
exile those Blacks, whether intellectuals or working class, who argued the
contrary. The latter were forced into labour camps, prisons, mental hospitals or
driven out of the country.

Nowadays, many eyes are trained on this supposed “post-racial democracy”, as
people seek to understand why the revolutionary regime destroyed those who
refused to endorse this “Big Lie”.

Cuban Ambassador to barbados response

Mere propaganda, lies against Cuba

Published on: 3/23/2009.

I AM WRITING this letter to protest the outrageous and hostile article published
in the DAILY NATION on March 17 titled ‘Cuba’s Big Black Lie’.

It surprises me that THE NATION, which has traditionally respected and reflected
on the real truth of Cuba, has now been an accomplice of an individual who has
come to Barbados to spread propaganda against our country.

The purpose of Carlos Moore is to use Barbados for his anti-revolutionary
propaganda and that is why we do not understand why this paper published this
very shameful article against the Cuban people and the revolutionary process.

I hope that in the future THE NATION will take into consideration the good
relations that exist between Barbados and Cuba, and not play the game with
individuals like this person who denied his own country and then shamed us when
they say that they are Cubans.

It is no less outrageous and astonishing that the Errol Barrow Centre For
Creative Imagination of the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, has
supported Moore in the propaganda of defamation and lies against Cuba.

The publication of my letter of protest by THE NATION is much appreciated and I
hope the newspaper will not publish, in the future, any more unpleasant articles
like the one I am complaining about which does not correspond or identify with
the traditional and magnificent relations and collaborations which exists
between the Government and people of Barbados and the government and people of
Cuba.

- PEDRO GARCIA ROQUE,

Ambassador

EDITOR’S NOTE: THE NATION publishes the expressed views of all and guarantees
the right of reply.

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