Blacks in Cuba Aspire to More / Iván García

People of the black race are those who live the worst in Cuban. Also, the descendants of Africans are the majority of those in prison. Despite the fact that blacks and mixed-race exceed 50% of the population, they occupy the hardest jobs and earn the lowest salaries.

On the social scale, there are a minority of AfroCubans in important positions. They tend to be pigeonholed. They are famous or well-known in music, sports, the Santería religion, and of course sex, as in the case with hookers and pimps.

According to Fidel Castro in a speech from eight years ago (and the last known statistics), 88% of the prison population in Cuba — estimated by dissident sources to number 100,000 common prisoners 00 is black or mixed.

The most violent crimes are committed by people of this race. And this is the sector that receives the least hard currency from family remittances. As far as we know, the Castro brothers aren’t racist. In Geneva, the vice chancellor Albelardo Moreno recognized before the United Nations Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination that “certain” racial prejudices persist on the island.

Within Cuban society are worrying indices of hidden racism. A casual observer may not see it. However, it’s latent. A dangerous Pandora’s Box. Whites and blacks accept each other. Ride the same buses. Talk together. Sit together on the wall of the Malecon and shoot the breeze while sharing a bottle of rum.

But we know there are differences. Ask Ramiro, a manager, about subtle racism and his mouth curls up in disgust. He’s white, tall and blond. He runs a cafe that sells French pastries in the center of Havana.

“I’m not racist. But in tourism and businesses serving foreigners, almost all the employees are white. Among the bosses the predominance is almost absolute. The strongest racism isn’t white towards blacks, but blacks toward mixed-race and white. They always think the whites want to fuck them over,” says the boss.

It’s true that there are phrases and disgusting attitudes among black and mixed-race people. But in terms of racist insults, the large-caliber bullets are fired by people with white skin.

With few exceptions, a white Cuban man would be willing to marry a black woman. “Sex, whatever you want but marriage, not even a joke,” confesses Heriberto, student.

Young white women don’t think the same. Because of existing taboos, like the supposed body odor, enormous penises, or the tendency to beat their wives, they don’t usually like blacks. “But if I fell in love with a black man, there’s no doubt I would marry him. As long as he wasn’t too dark,” says Noemí, cashier.

Elsa, a sociologist, is concerned about a number of symptoms and signs of racism on the island. “It’s about a hierarchy of economic power that does not hide its segregationist behavior. They see blacks as a threat. Where there is no racism is when it has to do with sex. Something that we inherited from the Spanish colonizers, who liked to go to bed with black and mulatto women. Between whites and blacks in poor neighborhoods there is no racial prejudice.”

Veins of racism also occur in children. In schools or when they play each other, at the first sign of trouble, even if the child is a mulatto a while boy shouts scornfully “black piece of shit.” For Lucia, an elementary school principal, “It is a problem the kids bring from their homes, where they hear their parents refer to blacks in a pejorative way.”

Ana, a black student of international relations, feels marginalized in her class. I’m the only brown one in the group. They don’t go so far as to offend me for the color of my skin, but they ignore me and don’t invite me to their parties,” she says.

Still, to be black in Cuba is not a serious problem. Laws punish racial discrimination. And the Constitution says that everyone has the same rights.

Dark-skinned Cubans don’t see it like this. They live in the worst houses, are the majority in prison and don’t occupy important jobs. The blacks in Cuba want things to change. They aspire to be leaders some day.

March 10 2011